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SIMPLE PHOTOSHOP EDITS TO MAKE YOUR BLOG IMAGES POP

Today, I was thinking about sharing simple Photoshop edits to make your blog images pop. Ideally, you can get a perfect shot with a little practice and with lots of natural lights. Sometimes that works, but in most cases, photos ended up in dull, gloomy colors.  Editing photos can make such a huge difference. And remember there are multiple ways to edit a photo. But what I have shown you is what I do to quickly edit my photos.

BASIC EDITS

STEP ONE: ADJUST BRIGHTNESS AND CONTRAST

Go to the Adjustment panel and click Brightness/Contrast button, highlighted in below image. If not go to Image ->> Adjustments ->>Brightness/Contrast.  Adjust until you are happy with the result.

edit blog images

 

STEP TWO: ADJUST CURVES

Go to the Adjustment panel and click Curves button, highlighted in below image. If not go to Image ->> Adjustments ->>Curves. Make a point on the top and drag it upward until you are happy with the result. Make a second point on the bottom and drag it down until you are happy with the result. You can see in the below image how I add two points and drag them in order to adjust the image.

edit blog images

 

STEP THREE: ADJUST VIBRANCE AND SATURATION

Go to the Adjustment panel and click Vibrance button, highlighted in below image. If not go to Image ->> Adjustments ->>Vibrance.  Adjust the vibrance and saturation until you are happy with the result.

edit blog images

 

STEP FOUR: ADJUST HUE AND SATURATION

Go to the Adjustment panel and click Hue/Saturation button, highlighted in below image. or go to Image ->> Adjustments ->>Hue/Saturation.  Adjust the saturation until you are happy with the result.

edit blog images

 

Those simple edits are enough to make a huge difference in your image. Look at below images how the above simple edits transform the dull image to vibrant and colorful one.

BEFORE AFTER
edit blog images edit blog images

 

EDIT TWO – ADD SOFT CREAMY LAYER.

If you have more time, we can add a creamy overlay to make it even softer whiter image. Go to the Layers panel and click Channels tab, highlighted in below image. Then click the circle at the bottom, also highlighted in the below image.

edit blog images

 

Then go to the Layers tab again. From the previous post, you know how to add adjustment layer now. right-click the ‘create new fill or adjustment layer’ button. From the drop-down list select the solid color. It will create a new solid color adjustment layer.

edit blog images

 

select a creamy white color and click ok. For example #fdf2e4.

edit blog images

 

Now you will get a whiter creamier image. To remove all washed out feeling select the background layer and then hit cmd + J. This will create a duplicate layer on top. Select the newly created duplicate layer and change the blending mode to ‘Soft Light’ as shown in the below image.

edit blog images

 

side note: If you want to know what is adjustment layer and what is blending mode, check on my previous post about Photoshop Layers here.

 

You can see how the image changes from adding a soft creamy layer.

BEFORE AFTER
edit blog images edit blog images

 

In the below image I have added both basic edits and creamier effect. It gives unnecessary creamy feels to the image.

 

edit blog images

 

So what you have to do is select the adjustment layer that we have created to add creamy effect, and reduce the opacity down as shown in the image below. It all depends on your image. You may not want to reduce the opacity or may have to reduce the opacity way more down.

edit blog images

 

In the below image you can see adding both basic edits and creamier effect change the original image.

BEFORE AFTER
edit blog images edit blog images

 

And that’s how I do my edits in Photoshop. Hope this has been helpful to you. What is your editing procedure to edit your blog images?

 

simple Photoshop edits to make your blog images pop simple Photoshop edits to make your blog images pop
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Category: Blogging Tips

WORKING WITH PHOTOSHOP LAYERS AS A BLOGGER

It is important that you have a clear understanding of working with Photoshop layers as a blogger.It gives the ability to work on individual elements in a document.

Think of layers as transparent sheets stack on top of each other. Let’s say you want three objects in your final photograph, a mountain, a cloud and a flower. You draw each object in a separate transparent sheet. And finally, you stack them on top of each other. Once you finish and look through the top you can see the mountain, cloud and the flower as one photograph, but in fact, they are three different layers. This three-layer composition gives the final result.

If you want to change the color of the flower you just go to the flower layer and change it. It does not affect the other layers. If you draw all the three objects in one layer you have to change the whole photograph when you just want to change the one layer, that is the color of the flower.

 

Always try to create a new layer for every important modification. So it gives you the ability to change something later without complicating the Photoshop file.

 

If you don’t see the layers panel doesn’t appear, go to Window->> Layers

You can rename your layers. Simply double-click on the layer and re-type what you want. This is more helpful if you have a handful of layers.

 

When you first created a Photoshop document it only has one layer – the background layer. It is always by default locked. You can see the padlock sign. It means if you try to move canvas it won’t move. Click on the padlock sign and it will unlock.

Layers panel

working with Photoshop layers as a blogger

1- Filter layer: filer buttons appear on the top. For example, if you need to select only the text layers click the T icon. you can turn off the filter by clicking the same button again.

 

2 – Blending modes: Blending modes are the way the layers interact with each other. The default one is “Normal”. Draw two layers, one is a shape and one is text. Bring one layer on top of the other. Play with other modes and you can see how each blending modes changes the final result.

 

3 – Opacity and Fill: You can use these functions to change the transparency of a selected layer

 

4 – Lock a layer: Like the background layer, you can lock every other layer by clicking the tiny lock here. Every time you want to prevent a layer from adjustments, you can lock it by selecting the layer and then press the lock icon.

 

5 – Unlock a layer: To unlock a certain layer, click this padlock sign.

 

6 – You can turn the layer on or off by toggling the eyeball. You can easily hide a layer without completely deleting it.

 

7 – Link layer:  Link layers establishes a relationship between them

 

8 – Add a Layer Style: This will add special effects to selected layer

 

9 – Add layer Mask: It can make a layer or part of the layer either visible or invisible.

 

10 – Create new fill or adjustment layer: A fill layer lets you add a layer of solid color, gradient, or pattern. Adjustment layer adds color and other adjustments to your image without permanently changing the image.

 

11 –  create a folder: so that you can group related layers. This is only for the organizing purposes. When you work in a document that has a lot of layers you can organize them by grouping related layers. Create a folder and drag the related layers to the folder.

 

12 –  click this icon to create a new layer.

 

13 –  to delete a layer, select the layer and drag it to the trash can icon. You can right-click on the layer and select the delete layer option. Or you can simply select the layer you want to delete and hit the delete button on your computer.

 

Layer Types

There are few different layer types

Background: The background layer is the default layer in Photoshop. When you open an image for the first time, it will always consist just of this layer which is locked

 

Text: When you Press letter “T” on your keyboard or the “T” symbol in the toolbar, it automatically puts your text on a new text layer.

 

Image: The image layer contains all your image information.

 

Fill: The fill layer let you add a layer of solid color, gradient, or pattern on top of an image.

 

Adjustment: This will create a transparent layer where you can make changes to your photograph without affecting your original.

When you’re working on a layer, make sure you selected the right one. You can select a layer just by clicking on it.

Hope you have a much better understanding about layers panel now. If you want to see the beginner Photoshop tutorial click here.

 

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Category: Blogging Tips

PHOTOSHOP FOR BLOGGERS – PHOTOSHOP BEGINNER TUTORIAL

Adobe Photoshop for bloggers. Adobe Photoshop is one of the most valuable tools for a blogger. You might hear it already great content + great design is fundamental for your blog to succeed. As a blogger or an entrepreneur, you’ll have to create a lot of visual content and Photoshop is an ideal tool with lots of features. 

If you are a beginner and looking for a place to start Photoshop, you are in the right place. You may think Photoshop is way too complicated. I can never figure this out.”. That’s a myth! I’m going to show you how to use the Photoshop as a blogger to have a great blog. I’m here to guide you step by step to learn Photoshop.

If you don’t have Photoshop you can download it as a free 30 day trial from Adobe’s website.

 

If you prefer watching a video rather than reading a blog post, here is the video tutorial for you.

 

Let’s get back in to the tutorial.

You can create a new document by clicking the File ->> New button or open up an existing document using the File->>Open button.

Create a new document in Photoshop

Once you click the new button it will pop up the below window. On the left, you can see all the recent file sizes. Also, you can see some predefined templates for print, web and other purposes on the left. they all are in separate tabs, Once you click the relevant tab series of templates will show up.

Photoshop tutorial

 

1 – you can give the width you want.

2 –  you can give the height you want.

You can select the units you want from the drop-down menu. Pixels and Inches are pretty famous, but you can select whatever you want. 

3 – Set the resolution at least to 72.

4 – If you create something for web select the color mode to RGB, If you create something for print select the color mode to CMYK.

5 – I normally left Background Content to be the default – white.

After you have done everything clicks create button.

 

Photoshop Workspace

When you create a new document or open up an existing document, you will get the following interface. there are several things you should get familiar with

Photoshop tutorial

 

To get a better understanding lets reset the workspace so that the interface will look the same. To reset the workspace go to Windows->> Workspace->> Essentials

1 – Menu bar 

2 – Tool Options Bar. this tool option changes every time you change a tool on the toolbar

3 – Toolbar

4 – Panels 

5 – Rulers – If you can’t see the rulers, go to View->> Rulers

6 – Canvas 

 

Save a document

To save a document go to File ->> Save as.

Photoshop tutorial

 

In the following window give it a name and select the place you want to save the document. For the format leave it as Photoshop. You can save it as any other formats later. In this way, you will always have your original Photoshop file.

 

Photoshop Toolbar

The next important thing is the Toolbar

In the toolbar, you can see there is a small arrow on the right bottom corner of some tools. That means it has other hidden tool choices. Right-click on the arrow and it will show other tools.

Shape tool is the best example for this one. Once you right-click you can see other hidden tools, which is rectangle tool, Rounded Rectangle tool, Ellipse tool, etc.

Photoshop tutorial

 

Let’s see some basic important tools

Shape tool

There are 3 methods to draw a shape.

method 1

To draw a rectangle, select the Rectangle tool. Click and draw a rectangle on canvas. Once you draw a rectangle the property window pop up, if it not you can always open it up using Window->> Properties. You can change the properties of the shape there. The width, height, color, Stroke color, X and Y position, etc.

Once you are done using a tool click v on the keyboard to go back to move tool.

method 2

Click and hold the shift key while drawing a rectangle to make it a perfect square.

method 3

Select the rectangle tool and click on the canvas to give exact dimensions of the rectangle. 

Photoshop tutorial

 

To draw another shape the process is the same. Select the shape you want and draw the shape.

 

Text tool

To write down something select the text tool. You can change the font, size, and color in the tool options bar.

Photoshop tutorial

 

To change the font, size and color after typing, open up the Character window. Go to Window->> Character.

Photoshop tutorial

 

To write vertically select the vertical type tool.

 

Crop tool

Select the crop tool. Drag from the handlers to select the area to crop. Once you define the area to crop, hit enter.

Photoshop tutorial

Zoom tool 

To zoom in and zoom out.

 

Layers in Photoshop

Layers are the most important and most used panel in Photoshop. If it doesn’t appear, go to Window->> Layers

When you first created a Photoshop document it only has one layer – the background layer. It is always by default locked. You can see the padlock sign. It means if you try to move canvas it won’t move. Click on the padlock sign and it will unlock. If you want to lock a certain layer, select the layer first in the layers panel and click the padlock sign which you can see in the below image.

Photoshop tutorial

 

1-  If you want to lock a certain layer, select the layer first in the layers panel and click the padlock sign

2 – To unlock a certain layer, click this padlock sign.

3 –  create a folder, so that you can group related layers. This is only for the organizing purposes. When you work in a document that has a lot of layers you can organize them by grouping related layers. Create a folder and drag the related layers to the folder.

4 –  click this icon to create a new layer.

5 –  to delete a layer, select the layer and drag it to the trash can icon. You can right-click on the layer and select the delete layer option. Or you can simply select the layer you want to delete and hit the delete button on your computer.

 

Organize your layers in Photoshop

In the below image you can see several layers in the layers panel. Some are rectangle layers and some are circle layers. I can group them into two folders to arrange it nicely.

 

Photoshop tutorial

Photoshop tutorial

 

Click on the eyeball symbol to hide a layer without deleting it.

You can color coordinate the layers in order to organize them. Right-click on the eyeball symbol and pick a color.

Photoshop tutorial

 

 

In the below image notice that circle is on top of the rectangle. In layers panel ellipse layer is in top and rectangle layer is at the bottom. Layer on top of the layers panel appears in front of other layers on the canvas.

Photoshop tutorial

 

If we switch the layers in the layers panel (drag the rectangle layer on top) then you can see on the canvas, the rectangle is on top of the ellipse.

Photoshop tutorial

 

Create a duplicate layer 

Method 1

in the layers panel, click the layer and while holding it click the options button and drag down the layer. it will create a duplicate layer. In the canvas, you can’t see it because the new layer is on top of the older one. but in the canvas,  you can select the layer and drag it around. 

Method 2

Click and hold the alt key and once you hover the mouse on the layer, the mouse pointer converts into double pointers. Then click the layer and drag it.

 

Layer visibility

In the below image notice there are two layers. One is a text layer and it is in the top of the layers panel and the other one is a rectangle layer and it is in the bottom of the text layer.

Photoshop tutorial

 

Since the text layer is on top of the layers panel you can see the text.

What if we change the layers in the layers panel? Drag the rectangle layer to the top in the layers panel. In the below image you can’t see the text layer.

Photoshop tutorial

If you want to see the text layer, you can do it.

Select the rectangle layer in the layers panel. Click the drop-down arrow next to the Opacity. and reduce the opacity.  You can change the opacity to make the underneath layer visible.

Photoshop tutorial

 

To go step backward

To go step backward cmd+z is the famous shortcut for any application. But if you want to go back another step and click cmd+Z it will bring back the previous change, it will not go back one more step.

So if you want to go back more than one time go to,

Edit->> Step Backward.

So there you go. It’s a quick introduction to Adobe Photoshop. Was this tutorial useful? Are you ready to get started with Photoshop?

Adobe Photoshop for Bloggers Adobe Photoshop for Bloggers
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Category: Blogging Tips, Resources

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR EVERYDAY WRITING AS A BLOGGER

You worked hard on your latest blog post, we all trying to do that at the end of the day right? Give the best out there. But have you check spelling and grammar of your blog post? Yes, of course, I know how to write, I’m naturally good at grammar and spelling from high school. So why do I need to worry about that? You ask. You think you don’t make any spelling or grammar mistake, but guess what? It happens. It can happen to any of us. If English is not your first language, then there is at least one grammar or spelling mistake.

 

For me, English not my mother tongue, I struggle a lot when it comes to spelling and grammar. I always try to write an error-free blog post. Luckily I found Grammarly.

To put it simply, Grammarly is a grammar checker. Once installed, it will proofread your writing for grammar and spelling errors as you type. You even get email updates on how many words, mistakes, and improvements you’ve made each week.

Grammarly is a free app that is going to be one of your best friends! It is going to proof read your blog post as you write it.

The best thing is Grammarly has a Chrome extension that comes in handy on your browser. It is there whenever you need it. You don’t need to log in to the website and copy your whole text in there! You can check grammar mistakes on your WordPress/ Blogger editor, and you can correct your emails while writing it. How easy it is. Once you sign up for a Grammarly account, you can install the Grammarly extension for your browser. Since I do most of my blogging and writing online – the Grammarly extension for Chrome was perfect for me.

You can see below how Grammarly work on WordPress. At the bottom of the blog post editing area, it shows how many errors were there. Once you expand it, you can see the errors and suggestions. Also if you mouse over a wrong word, the right word suggestion box will appear. 

improve your writing with Grammarly

On WordPress, I write my blog post as usual, and since I installed Grammarly, it shows every mistake I have done there.

 

improve your writing with Grammarly

Once you clicked a particular error word, It shows details about it and ways to correct it.

 

improve your writing with Grammarly

The bottom line is Grammarly helps you to become a better writer. This app is useful to anyone.  If you are bloggers, freelance writers, entrepreneurs or even if you are a college student who does lots of writing on a daily basis this app is a life saver for you. 

I included it to my list of things you should do before publishing a blog post. You can find it here.

 

Grammarly pricing

Grammarly has free forever plan which is great. They also have a premium plan which starts from 11.66/month if you pay annually.

 

Grammarly offers

advanced grammar and spelling checks,

style checks,

Vocabulary enhancement suggestions

plagiarism checker.

Enhance your writing

 

I’ve been editing all my posts using Grammarly and cannot even believe how many mistakes I’ve made. It is a life saver.

Do you use Grammarly while writing blog posts? Let me know what you think about this app in the comments down below!

Grammarly Writing Support

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which mean that if you click a link in this article and purchase something, I may make a small commission at NO cost to you. See the Disclosure Policy here.

improve everyday writing as a blogger_3 improve everyday writing as a blogger_3

Category: Blogging Tips

UPDATE YOUR PINTEREST BOARD COVERS WITH BRANDED IMAGES

Pinterest, by far the most helpful platform to grow your blog. The first step in order to grow your Pinterest audience by giving your Pinterest profile a cohesive look, so that others can easily identify your work when they see it. As a blogger, you should put an extra effort to create an aesthetic for your Pinterest account which stands out your brand. One way to do this is by updating Pinterest board covers, which this tutorial is all about.

why you should create Pinterest board covers

As a blogger, you should put an extra effort to create a cohesive brand across all of your platforms. That means you use your brand colors, fonts throughout all of your social media platforms. So that when a reader sees your work they will instantly recognize you.

Declutter your Pinterest profile by using board covers. When you don’t have custom Pinterest board covers, your profile can look too messy.Viewers are more likely to stick around and follow you if your profile is organized.

Have you noticed that some of the lengthy board names don’t show on Pinterest? can you imagine having an eye-catching title for your boards and Pinterest doesn’t fully show your board name? readers don’t get a good first impression when they were not able to see what this board is about. But you can design your board cover with full board title so that every visitor can easily see the board name.

If you want a good cohesive branded Pinterest profile, you should create board covers for your Pinterest boards. If you haven’t don that so far, don’t worry friends it’s time to do that.
In this tutorial, we are gonna create board covers using Photoshop.

 

How to design your custom Pinterest board covers in Photoshop?

Create a new document (size 830 * 830  with 300pixel/inch resolution).

Drag and drop your background image to the Photoshop.

Update pinterest board covers
Using the Rectangle tool, draw a box that is the full size of the 830×830 square. use one of your signature branding colors and place it on top of the image aligning to your canvas.

Update pinterest board covers

Select that rectangle layer and reduce the opacity to your desired level.

Update pinterest board covers

 

Click on the Rectangle Tool again and draw a rectangle approximately 620×300 in size(of course you can change the size ). A Properties Box will appear and you can select the Fill Color.

Select the horizontal type tool and type the title of your Pinterest board. choose a font and decide on the size and color your text should be.

Update pinterest board covers

update Pinterest board covers

Once you log in go to pins section and click the + sign saying “save pin”. Clicking it will allow you to upload an image – either from your device or from the web. We’ll be uploading the image from our device, and selecting to add it to the board you want to change the cover of.

Once you’ve chosen an image to upload, you’ll notice you have the option to include a Destination URL for the image. For this, I recommend adding your website URL. Then click “Continue.”

Update pinterest board covers

 

Update pinterest board covers

 

Update pinterest board covers

Go to boards section. click the edit button at the bottom of your board.

Click the change button infant of cover section. Select your newly uploaded image and click save.

Update pinterest board covers

repeat all steps until every board cover photo is changed. You’ll be happy with the end product, I promise!

before

Update pinterest board covers

after

Update pinterest board covers

Have you taken the time to brand your Pinterest board covers? If not, are you going to?

Update pinterest board covers Update pinterest board covers
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Category: Blogging Tips

ADD PIN IT BUTTON TO YOUR WORDPRESS BLOG

Writing a great post is pointless if you don’t promote it. Sure you can promote it through social media. But if one of your readers find it great and want to share it,  do you offer them an easy way to share it? If a reader has to go through several steps to share it, most likely they will end up in not sharing your blog post regardless of how great it was.

One of the easiest ways to do this is adding image hover pin it button to your blog images. In that way, a reader can share your post instantly on Pinterest. It is really important that you add image hover pin it button at very early stage of your blogging journey.

it will allow the reader to easily pin your post image straight to Pinterest. You’re probably thinking, “yeah that’s cool feature but how am I gonna add this feature to my blog?” If you’ve every been curious on how to add a pin it button to your blog, then this tutorial is for you. Plus you can collect 11 free pin it buttons for your blog.

Install Plugin

Let’s first starts with your WordPress dashboard, you need to install a plugin for this. If you don’t know how to install a plugin, you can find it right here.

Go to your WordPress Dashboard > Plugins > Add New search for the plugin “JQuery Pin It Button For Images”.

Once you find the plugin install and activate that.

Now you have to change some settings in order this plugin to work.

go to  Settings > jQuery Pin It Button For Images

 

There are many different settings here, so I won’t be going over all of them.

On which pages the “Pin it” button should be shown.

In the “Selection” tab, set up “On which pages the “Pin it” button should be shown.”

This setting controls specific pages that the pin it button will be activated. I usually select “Pages” and “Single Posts” for this option.  I have added the “Single posts” option.

Pin it button setting

Under “Visual” you may change when the button will be visible, the description source, link the image to the single post page and change the buttons transparency.

So we want to show button “On hover”, So select the “On hover” option in the drop-down list of show button option. 

Next, scroll down to Transparency Value, which will fade your image on hover. I recommend choosing the low value.set up at 0.2

The most important part – In “Custom “Pin it” button section, check the box that says Use custom image. Then click on the button that says “Upload an image using media library” and upload your custom image. For this, you need a pin it button for your blog. If you don’t have any you can use any of the images I have provided below. It has 11 free pin it buttons and you can use whatever you like.

In “pin it button position”, you can decide where you want to display the pin it button. on top, middle, bottom whichever you choose.

That’s it! Save your changes, and check out your sweet new Pinterest button on your site. Yaayy!!

 

If you want to know how to set up pin it button for your blogger blog you can find it here.

If you are interested in creating your own pin it button that matches your brand 100%  you can see this tutorial to create one easily with picmonky.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO DOWNLOAD SOME FREE PINTEREST HOVER BUTTONS TO USE ON YOUR BLOG?

Here you have 11 free pin it buttons for your blog. Enjoy!

How to add pin it button

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Category: Blogging Tips

FREE SOCIAL MEDIA PACK – INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST AND TWITTER TEMPLATES

In this blog post, I’m going to share with you ‘Sugar Pink’ free social media pack which contain Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter image templates which you can edit and use on your social media platforms.

We all know Social Media plays an important role in blog traffic. Good eye catching image is essential for your traffic. Consistent blog and social media image is a key element in your blog post.

The pack contains 12 designs. in 3 different formats (Square, horizontal and vertical) For Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. 

’Sugar Pink’ Social Media Pack gives your business a stylish kick with its cute look. It is fully customizable and created in Photoshop. This pack is ideal for bloggers, fashion brands, lifestyle brands, magazines, creative entrepreneurs and creative business owners. 

You will need a basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop in order to edit these templates. If you don’t have adobe photoshop you can get 30 day free version here.

I’d love to see what you create! Please feel free to tag me on Instagram @crystalandstars. https://www.instagram.com/crystalandstars/

Hope you enjoy it!

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Category: Blogging Tips, Resources

HOW TO START A BLOG – WORDPRESS ESSENTIAL PLUGINS

Now you have set up your blog, have some understanding about WordPress dashboard.We can move on to the next step now. Let’s see what are the must have plugins for your WordPress as well as some extra plugins you can add to improve the functionality.

Plugins add 
additional features to your blog. When I first started blogging, I googled a lot to find a way to add certain functionality to my blog because back then I set up my blog using Blogger. Other blogs have much more features and customization which I could not achieve through Blogger. That is one of the reasons I switched to WordPress.
 
There are thousands of plugins available for WordPress, free and paid. But which ones to install, which ones to install first, that’s a dilemma of sure.
 
Here are some essential plugins you should add to your website.
 
Also, remember that adding too many plugins will slow down your site. So don’t add any and every plugin you find out there. If you no longer use a particular plugin don’t just deactivate it, also delete that plugin.
 
Another thing to remember is to update your plugin. If you don’t update your plugins timely, you are risking your sites for security threats.

How to add a plugin

There are two ways to add plugins to your WordPress site.

First, from your WordPress Dashboard go to Plugins -> Add New. Then search for a plugin. Once you find the one your want, click “Install Plugin.” Then click “Activate Plugin.”

If the plugin isn’t in the WordPress repository, say you bought it directly from a developer, you’ll need to upload it. From your WordPress Dashboard go to Plugins -> Add New. Click the “upload” button. Then browse your computer for the plugin file, click “Upload.” Then click “Activate Plugin.”


Core Plugins


Akismet


This plugins blocks spam comments.
Akismet comes pre-installed on every new WordPress installation, so you don’t have to worry about installing this.


Yoast SEO


SEO plays a significant role in any website.Blah- blah-blah. I know, SEO is like some magic unicorn for most of us. If you don’t understand what the heck is SEO, that is 
totally ok. But you should understand that it is crucial to your blog, website. So if you don’t know what SEO is all about, just remember it is a critical thing, and Yoast SEO plugin does so much work to improve that. period. So install the plugin, and you will be good.


Updraft Plus

 

Backups can also be a pain in the ass. You have to write blog posts, promote them, create SM schedule and among all you have to do backups regularly. Who has time for that, let alone you don’t have time to blog consistently? Updraft will take care of that; you don’t have to worry about your WordPress site for backups anymore. It will backup your blog to save them just about anywhere: Dropbox, Google Drive, FTP, email, and more. And sends you an email confirmation. I love this plugin because now I don’t have to worry about backing up my blog every week.

 

Ultimate NoFollow


It is crucial that you add the nofollow attribute to any of your sponsored links. It 
is required by Google to do so, and this plugin helps with that. What does that mean is when you add a link to your blog you add attributes to that such as add target=”_blank” if you want to open it up in a new window. Like that Google wants you to add an attribute rel=“nofollow” to your link to any sponsored link. You can do this manually by going to text tab of your blog post composer and add this attribute to your link. But adding this plugin makes this all easy.

 

WordFence or Sucuri


It is important that you consider your website safety first. These plugins help you to keep your site secure.
The free version covers almost all the important security aspects, but there is a paid pro version available too.


Broken link checker

When your blog gets old, it need more maintenance; It probably has links that are no longer available. This plugin does a regular checkup to see you need to update any link and sends you notifications.


Optional plugins

 

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP 


You can track your blog page views along with some other data through this plugin.


Image Widget
 


You can add an image to your sidebar through this plugin.


Click to tweet


It is essential that your blog post shared on social media by a reader, but why not make that one step easier. Add click to tweet box among your blog post and make it easy to share your post.


SumoMe


Adds sliding social share buttons to your blog.


jQuery Pin It Button For Images
 


Adding pin it buttons to your blog images makes it easy for your readers to pin your image. Upload custom pin it button in your media tab and set it up directed by following images.


Yet Another Related Posts Plugin


This is also a life saver. You can add related posts at the end of every blog post.

I will update this post in future with plugins I find helpful. Be sure to check this out time to time.


Is there a WordPress plugin that you absolutely can’t live without? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

 
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Category: Blogging Tips

HOW TO START A BLOG – UNDERSTAND YOUR WORDPRESS DASHBOARD

So now you officially started a blog. Yay! It might take few minutes to create a blog, but you are not anywhere near the final stage. If you miss the previous post about how to set up your blog, you can read it here.

Let’s go ahead and see what you have to do now. First, you have to understand your WordPress dashboard and familiarize with it.

Go to

yourdomain.com/wp-admin/

Login to your WordPress dashboard by using the username and password you selected previously. Remember this is not BlueHost login, this is the username password you created in step 8 in the previous post.

Will first take a look at your WordPress dashboard.

It is not too complicated, but I’m not going to lie you have to do some learning around here. And I promise you; you can start blogging in no time.

 

WordPress Dashboard

You can see a menu on your left-hand side. Once you click an item, the content will load on the right-hand side.

WPDashboard

For now, there are several menu items which are most important.

Those are Posts, Pages, Appearance, Plugin, Users, Tools, Settings.

Let’s go one by one.

POSTS

Go to the posts tab

WPDashboard

On top, you can see a button called add new. By clicking that you can compose your first blog post.

One of the most important thing you have to before you start your first blog post is, delete the sample hello world post.  Once you select the post, you can see there are several links appear at the bottom of the title of the post. Those are edit, quick edit, trash, and view. Trash that sample blog post.

Then click add new button, and you can write the first blog post or you can finish all the other settings and come back and write a one.

Categories

create a new category

WPDashboard

Categories are a great way to organize your blog post. It will be really helpful for website visitors to navigate through your posts. You can create blog post categories, subcategories or edit and delete existing categories here.

Assign categories to your blog posts

Whenever you create a new post, you can find the categories on your right-hand side. Select the relevant categories from the list.

MEDIA

Under the media, you can see a list of all the uploaded images and videos.

PAGES

Then there is tab called pages, there you create static pages like about me, contact me, disclosure or privacy policy. It is the same as creating a blog post.

WPDashboard

There is a button on top of the page called add new. You can add new page Title it as contact me and in the description, you can write the content of that page. You can save the page as a draft for later, or you can publish it now.

WPDashboard

Pages tab is to create static pages like About me or Contact me. You can create pages like About me, contact me, Privacy Policy and Disclosure Policy Here and place them in a menu bar.

COMMENTS

In comments, you can see all the comments posted to your blog posts. You can also moderate your comments here.

APPEARANCE

Appearance is other most important thing. You can find and activate beautifully designed themes here. The theme is the design you choose for your blog. You don’t have to pay and buy a theme; there are thousands of free themes available for you to choose.

WPDashboard

You can set up a navigation menu on Menu section. It is located under the Appearance section

You can add categories and static pages you created like contact me to a menu. 

WPDashboard

Click the category you would like to appear on your menu. Once you’ve added it to the menu, arrange where you would like it to be displayed on the menu.

WPDashboard

Click the pages you would like to appear on your menu. Once you’ve added it to the menu, arrange where you would like it to be displayed on the menu.

WPDashboard

If you want to edit your sidebar, you have to go to Widgets. It is under the Appearance.

WPDashboard

PLUGINS

In plugins, you can install plugins to enhance your WordPress site. Plugins give certain functionality to your blog. There are thousands of free and paid plugins available for your need.

Plugins. This is my favorite tab. You can find thousands of free and paid plugins. You can use them to improve your site and add functionality to your blog.

One thing you have to do first is to delete the Hello Dolly plugin. Adding unnecessary plugins will slow your website.

USERS

In users, you can edit your profile and add other users.

WPDashboard

TOOLS

You can import your other blogs using tools. I will write another post to show you how to import a Blogger blog to WordPress.

SETTINGS

Fill your blog title and tagline.

Go to Settings -> General

WPDashboard

Make your site visible to search engines.

Go to Settings

Reading -> search engine visibility. If the check box is selected, deselect that.

Normally your site is visible to the search engines, but above checkbox is checked it is not visible. Make your site visible to search engines. Only click the last button if you want your blog to be private.

WPDashboard

Media Setting

In media, you can also adjust the image size you want. I have a higher resolution for medium size because when converting from Blogger to WordPress, you have to enter a right size for medium images in order them to appear quality.  

WPDashboard

Permalinks

next is Permalink settings.

http://www.crystalandstars.com/2016/12/stocking-stuffers.html

in the above link 2016/12/stocking-stuffers.html was the permalink.

You can change the appearance of your permalink as you want. By default, it is set as

www.crystalandstars.com/?p=123

Changing the permalink is making your URLs more readable and hence increase SEO.

You can set it to display date/title.html

Such as  http://www.crystalandstars.com/2016/12/stocking-stuffers.html

or

title.html

http://www.crystalandstars.com/stocking-stuffers.html

WPDashboard

This is a simple overview of your WordPress dashboard and some basic setting you must have.

Next, let’s take a look at how to change admin user from your account.

Change WordPress admin user

Go to Users- click add new

Make this new user an administrator.

Log out.

Log back in as the new user you just created

Delete the original “admin.”

WordPress will ask if you want to delete that user’s content or re-assign it to a different user. Choose to reassign all content to your new user to avoid losing anything during this process.

At the same time, you can create social media accounts like Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter for your blog.

In summary, before you publish your first post,

  • Choose a theme that matches your preferences and also offers mobile responsiveness.
  • Create categories and static pages like contact me.
  • Setup the navigation menu.
  • Arrange your sidebar and add widgets to it.
  • Delete sample post and the sample page.
  • Change the permalink
  • Make sure that your site is visible to search engines
  • Change admin user
  • create social media accounts like Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter for your blog.

Those are the main basic things you should do before you publish your first post.

In the next two posts, we will discuss important plugins you should install.

Hope now you have a clear understanding about your WordPress dashboard. If you miss my post about step by step guide to set up a blog, you can find it here.

UnderstandWPDashboard   WORDPRESS dashboard
Tags: , ,
Category: Blogging Tips

ULTIMATE STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO START A BLOG IN 2017

Another new year! It is the time we all have hopes, goals, and plans. With each starting year we all plan for something, set goals and have high expectations for our plans. If one of your goals is to start a blog, you are in the right place. Here you can find everything you need to know about starting a blog. There are lots of blogs out there, and you feel overwhelmed, you are thinking of where to start, how to start, what is the step by step guide to starting one.

If you are wondering about above things, you are in the right place.

Can I start a blog?

This is the first question anyone thinking of blogging would wonder.

It is not as complicated as it seems, you don’t have to have technical knowledge, coding skills or money to start one. But if you are a tech nerd, I recommend you to study some basics like CSS basics, HTML basics but it is not necessary at all. Knowledge can come in handy sometimes. But to start a blog and run a blog, I assure you, you can do it without any technical knowledge. Anyone can do it.

So the answer to above question, Can I start a blog? YES, ABSOLUTELY YOU CAN.

Why Should I blog?

Blogging is something you can do for fun, to share your expertise and knowledge, for a living or for all the above reasons. Regardless of your plan, first you have to set up a blog.

What should I blog about?

Define your niche. That is the first advice you get from everywhere. Do I have to have do this? The answer is yes and no. Think what makes you happy, about what can you write, what are your interests. If you can figure out this, you know what you are blogging about.

At first, you can feel like overwhelmed, you don’t know what you want to blog about, and that’s totally ok. You can figure it out as you go, but if you have something in mind, that’s fantastic.

The only thing you know and passionate about is knitting or painting starts a blog about it. You will be amazed to see how many people out there has the same interest and passion as you.

What should be my blog name?

You can name it anything you want unless the name is already taken by someone else. Try to come up with a name that reflects you and your blog. And have some two or three backup names just in case your name is not available. Come up with a good name for your brand, your blog is your brand, and Check your domain name is available. For example, if you come up with the name myfirstblog check whether there are any blog called myfirstblog.com

 If you want to name your blog as my first blog and when you try to purchase a domain myfirstblog.com is already taken, don’t use myfirstblog1.com as your domain. I asked you to have some backup names because if something like above happens, you can switch to another name.

Social Media is the next big thing that comes right after blogging. Check your blog name available in social media accounts you intend to follow. For example, you decided to name your blog as myfirstblog; you want to check on Pinterest myfirstblog username is already taken or not. If your blog name is myfirstblog and your Pinterest account is myfirstblog1 it doesn’t match. It is ok if you use myfirstblog1, but it is not a good practice. For consistent social media strategy, you need to keep consistent with your social media accounts. You can use sites like http://knowem.com/ to check if the name is available on other social media platforms.

Once you answer the above questions, then it is time to start a blog.

First thing first.

What blogging platform should I choose?

There are tons of blogging platforms out there. Blogger, WordPress, Squarespace, tumbler, you name it. The first question you meet along this journey is which platform should you choose.

But in a nutshell, If you don’t have anything to invest on or you don’t want to spend anything yet, choose Blogger, not free WordPress. If you are willing to invest in your blog, then you can either go with a self-hosted WordPress or Squarespace.

I have briefly compared few of the major platforms below. You can find millions of blog posts out there explaining which one you should choose.

Here is a short comparison which might help you.

Blogger

Pros

Easy to set up.

Has google security

no cost at all

easy learning curve

cons

you don’t own your blog

limited design selection

no plugins available

 

WordPress

pros

Most popular

You own your blog

lots of design and customization

Thousands of available plugins

cons

Has some learning curve

Has some initial cost

No customer support number or anything.  Will have to research on your own so maintenance can  be pretty hard

You have to spend some money in order to start a blog, But it is not true always. But you can always start a blog on blogger for free. If you are not yet ready to invest anything on your blog, you can always always starts with Blogger. It is free and easy to use. The main drawback with this is you never own your blog. Google owns it. They can shut you down any time they want. I’m not saying that they are going to shut down your new blog, even though I don’t have personal experience with that. It is a POSSIBILITY you should consider.

But if you are willing to invest some money toward your blog WordPress or Squarespace is the way to go.

Now let’s get right into create your blog. I’m going to create a blog in WordPress here. It is one of the most popular platforms out there.

If you do decide to go with WordPress(which is awesome), you need a hosting service and domain name. Whatt?? I know I will explain it below.

Domain Name

 It is more like to your home address or your phone number. Each website has its unique domain name. Like you use a phone number to call to a friend, computers use domain names to contact a particular site. Domain name is your blog URL such as www.myfirstBlog.com. you can have domain names with sites like GoDaddy. It is one of the leading domain name providers. Registering domain doesn’t mean you have a website.

Hosting service

Hosting service is where you store your files and make available for visitors. The hosting company provides space on their servers to host your blog. Once you register the domain name, you can use it with any hosting companies you choose. Both can be the same company or different companies.

WordPress recommend using Bluehost as a hosting service. It’s simple to starting with one click installation. You can select a cheap basic package, and you can upgrade at any time you want. You can buy your domain name from there rather than buying it from another company and then assign it to Bluehost.

Let’s create your blog

Step 1

Go to Bluehost and purchase hosting and domain

start a blog

START A BLOG

START A BLOG

Come up with a good name for your brand, and Check your domain name is available.

If you already have a domain name, you only need to assign the domain to Bluehost by changing the name servers.

Check this link https://my.bluehost.com/cgi/help/432

Step 2

After you choose your domain name, enter your account information

START A BLOG

Step 3

Choose your hosting package. You can choose a basic package to start with if you are just checking out this is the path for you.

I recommend that you purchase domain privacy protection, but it is entirely optional.

START A BLOG

Step 4

Enter your billing information. This step is pretty straightforward as you can see in the image below.

START A BLOG

Step 5

Now create your username and password for your Bluehost account.

START A BLOG

Phew, you are almost done, it is time to install WordPress.

Step 6

Login to Bluehost account by clicking the login link on top right corner of Bluehost home page. 

Go to hosting tab and then panel tab under that.

START A BLOG

Step 7

scroll down until you find Website section and click the install WordPress button.

START A BLOG

Step 8

Click the install button.

Select your domain

START A BLOG

Step 9

Fill your site name and create WordPress username/password and then click install now.

You can see the progress on the top as a percentage.

START A BLOG

You get a success message once everything is complete. Please save your username and password somewhere safe.

START A BLOG

Now you can do the happy dance. Congratulations, you have officially created a blog all by yourself.

I will post another post what to do next.

Click below to get this guide as PDF!

Disclosure: I do earn a commission if you sign-up to Bluehost using my link at no additional cost to you. Plus you do get an exclusive discount on a visit from my blog. Please know that I only recommend products and services that I find helpful and useful. If you do choose to buy through my affiliate link, thank you for your support!

 

 

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Category: Blogging Tips