Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Linda's How-Do-I Series - Drop Down Menu's For Your Blog Sidebar

If you're anything like me then you have a million things on the sidebars of your blog. That's great for supplying lots of information, but it can get a little "busy" and crowded in the sidebar. A little organization would be helpful.

Well, I finally figured out how to add drop-down menu listings to the sidebar of my blogs. You do it using HTML <***form><***/form> and <***option> <***option> (minus the 3 ***'s that are there to display the HTML code in this article) commands.

I'd been looking for ways to organize my sidebars for all my links sections and first saw this particular drop down listing usage on Ruth's "Woolly Wormhead's Ripping Yarns" Blog. I thought she did a terrific job of organizing her sidebar. She, too, had a LOT of information on her sidebars. So, I thought, "Hmmm..... I could use that on my blogs, too."

So, I did some research on how to add drop down menu's for listing links on the sidebars of your blogs.

I decided to utilize this for the "Linda's How-Do-I Series" of E-Pamphlets listings that I have on the sidebars of my blogs, for the categories of articles that I have on several of my blogs that I haven't converted to a new Blogger.com template, and for my doll patterns categories on my Linda's Blog.

I'm happy to report that it works wonderfully and I love how my sidebars are organized now.

Let's say that I want to use drop-down menu's to list all my doll pattern categories with a sidebar title and listing and have it look like this on the sidebar of my blog:

Linda Walsh Originals Doll Pattern Categories
    To see all my pattern categories just click on the link in the drop-down menu below for the category you would like:

Here's the HTML code your would use (minus the 3***'s in each section to get the HTML code to display in this post) for the above. I reduced it down to the first 4 categories on my doll patterns list and single spaced the commands to make it easier for you to follow. Here's the HTML code for that:

<***h2 class="sidebar-title">Linda Walsh Originals Doll Pattern Categories<***/h2>
<***strong>To see all my pattern categories just click on the link in the drop-down menu below for the category you would like:<***/strong>
<***p align="center">
<***!-- Linda's Pattern Categories-->
<***select style="FONT-SIZE: 10px; FONT-FAMILY: verdana, Arial, sans-serif" onchange="document.location=">
<***option value="">Linda Walsh Originals Pattern Categories<***/option>
<***option value="http://www.lindawalshoriginalsepatterns.com/shop/index.php?act=" catid="28">NEW Doll Patterns<***/option>
<***option value="http://www.lindawalshoriginalsepatterns.com/shop/index.php?act=" catid="1">Gray Is Beautiful Series<***/option>
<***option value="http://www.lindawalshoriginalsepatterns.com/shop/index.php?act=" catid="29">Brothers & Sisters<***/option>
<***option value="http://www.lindawalshoriginalsepatterns.com/shop/index.php?act=" catid="2">Victorian "Ladies"<***/option>
<***!-- Linda's Pattern Categories -->

The first <***option> line contains the title that will be displayed in the drop-down menu box. The following 4 <***option> lines are the individual URL's of my doll pattern categories that I want to direct you to. You just CLICK on the link in the drop-down menu and it brings you to that particular URL.

Using drop down menu's greatly reduces the size of your sidebars. If you're anything like me you need to do this as the sidebars just get to be too long.

I'm sure that I will be utilizing this even more and reducing my sidebars further, but thought you'd like to see how I did this for now.

So, what do you think? Do you like my organization?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Linda's How-Do-I Series - What's On The Sidebar For Your Individual Posts!

One of the changes that I've made recently to the sidebars of the blogs of mine that I haven't converted to a new Blogger.com template is the addition of HTML coding that would specify exactly what sections of my sidebar I wanted included on the individual post pages.

If you are a reader of my blogs you may have noticed that there is a LOT of information on my sidebars. I wanted to change that for the individual posts pages where just one article would be displayed as I thought a long sidebar in those instances was too much.

So, I added <***mainorarchivepage>and <***/mainorarchivepage> HTML coding (minus the 3 ***'s that are shown just to get the HTML coding displayed in this post) at the beginning and ending of those sidebar sections that I wanted to EXCLUDE from the sidebar of my individual post pages. They're still there when my main blog is shown, just not there when the individual post pages are shown.

For example. Just scroll down the sidebar of my Linda's Blog, my I Love Crafts & Craft Blogs, and my DOLLS Blog to see how long the sidebars are. Now just click on any one or all of the following to see how I've shortened each blog for the individual post pages:

Linda's Blog - A Million Different Blogging Directories! For Crafters - Which To Choose?

DOLLS Blog - He's Doing an Irish Jig Again - Watch Out!

I Love Crafts and Craft Blogs - Top Blogs By Crafters Toplist Is Hopping!

Can you see the difference?

You can only do this on those blogs that haven't been changed to a new Blogger.com template. I changed the rest of my blogs to a new template and haven't figured out how to get this to work there as well. I'm not sure I'll be able to do it there. But, I'll keep looking and trying and if I can I'll let you know how I did it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Tips From The Blogging Queen - Should You Add Blogvert and Blogvertising to Your Blog? - Column 8

Tips From The Blogging Queen - Should You Add Blogvert and Blogvertising to Your Blog? - Column 8
Last month in my TFTBQ Column 7 our blog definitions were "Blogvert" and "Blogvertising."
"Blogvert" is an ad on a blog. Ads can be pictures, banners, text, video, etc.

"Blogvertising" is advertising of any shape or nature that appears on a blog either in the sidebar(s), masthead, footnote area, or embedded within the articles of the blog. Blogvertising usually contains a clickable link to the subject advertisers website or blog.

So, the question this month is "Should You Add Blogvert and Blogvertising to Your Blog?

There was a time when advertising on blogs was forbidden and a HUGE "NO-NO." Blogs were considered personal diaries filled with nothing but text or images. They were not considered as business tools.

But, times change and so did the thinking on blogs and advertising. Paramount in this change was the ability of anyone including a small business owner to set-up a blog to support their small business.

Blogs became mainstream and advertising your own business on your business blog was a no-brainer.
At first small business ads took the form of button ads in the sidebars or banner ads at the very top of the blogs. Sometimes the ads were embedded within the articles themselves in the form of text links, etc. Sometimes they were text links contained within the article bye lines.

However, with the ease to which blog templates could be altered and images added blogverts became larger and larger and placed anywhere within the confines of the blog.

With the advent of digital images, photo hosting websites, shopping carts, and E-Products small business bloggers realized that they could use their blogs to effectively advertise and sell specific products. And, nothing was more suited to this than "instant download e-products."

So, small business bloggers advertising their own businesses and products on their own blogs became acceptable. Within reason so as not to turn the customers off, but acceptable.

However, there was a change brewing in the blogvert and blogvertising debate and the question became whether or not you should add other advertising to your blog? Paramount in this change was the onset of Google AdSense ads, Amazon ads, affiliate advertising and the ability of bloggers to earn a few dollars on their blogging efforts.

So, should you add other advertising to your blog?

I think the answer to this depends on what your blog is being used for. If it is a blog that is being used to support and promote your small business and/or website then you need to consider three things before you add other advertising to it:

1) The reason why you set-up your blog up in the first place.

2) Who your customer base is and what advertising would do to your readership?

3) Where you are going to place this advertising.

If you think you can add other advertising without undermining the reasons for your blog and turning off your blog readers and customers then you should consider adding it.

If you think that other advertising will detract from the purpose of your blog then do not add it. Also, if you think that advertising for others on your own blog undermines your own small business then do not add it.

Of course there are those true bloggers who still consider advertising in blogs as offensive. I can understand their rationale. However, as blogs become more and more mainstream for big business and small business alike they become a commonplace advertising vehicle. The answer lies in striking a fine balance between blogvertising for your blog and turning off your blog readers.

"Tips From The Blogging Queen" Column 8 Definition -
"Blogstipation" - Being unable to think of anything to blog about (i.e. writer's block for bloggers).

Be sure to tune in to my TFTBQ Column 9 on "Are You Blogstipated?

Copyright © 2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Linda Walsh of Linda Walsh Originals and Linda's Blog. Linda is a doll maker and doll pattern designer.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The #1 Mistake of Crafters With Blogs!

I have been blogging for awhile now and have reviewed a lot of blogs for my "I Love Crafts and Craft Blogs" blog and for my "Top Blogs By Crafters Toplist." In doing so I have noticed something that I consider to be the #1 mistake of crafters with blogs.

More often than not I will come across a terrific blog by a phenomenal crafter who has a blog and maybe a website and is selling their wonderful creations on the Internet. I don't know about all of you, but if I'm thinking of buying something from a small business crafter on the web I usually want to know more about whom I may be dealing with. Or, I might have a question that I want to ask them about their creation.

So, I usually try to find something out about the blogger by looking at their "profile", their "About Me" page, or maybe a post about themselves. Sometimes there is some wonderful information about the blogger and crafter, sometimes not. However and here's the number 1 mistake of crafters with blogs - more often than not, they don't include their email address in their profile or anywhere on their blog. Sometimes they don't even include it on their website. Without the email address it is impossible for the blog customer to get in touch with the crafter. Translation - no sale - lost business.

If I'm really interested in buying something from the blogging crafter I might try and see if they have listed their website in their blog profile or listed it on the sidebar of their blog. Sometimes their website link is included in their profile and sometimes it is very visible and at the top of the sidebar, which is great. Other times it requires searching for it. At this point I think the average blogging customer would just give up.

However, since I really want to buy the product and have a question I continue searching to see if they have a website. If they do have one then, again, I look to see if they have an email address or a "contact me." Sometimes they do, and sometimes not.

What I am always amazed at is that not only is their a lack of an email address on the blog, but the blogging crafters doesn't even put their name on their blog. If you are anything like me (and I suspect most customers are) I won't buy from someone on the web who doesn't list their email address, their name or business name, their street address, and their phone number. It's one thing to buy from huge retail stores with a website. It's another to buy from a small business crafter. For the latter the customer has to feel confident that they will receive the product they are paying for and confident with whom they are dealing with. By not including this information you promote a lack of confidence in the customer for buying from you.

Now I know you'll say that you don't include you email address on your blog and your name because you don't want to be inundated with spam mail and don't want everyone on the Internet to know who you are. That is totally understandable for a personal blog. However, if you are blogging to help your small crafting business generate sales that is a major mistake. By trying to prevent unwanted spam email you prevent the very customer you are trying to entice from contacting you.

I list my email address and my main web page in the "Contact" information of my blog profile. I also have a separate article post in all my blogs that contains more information about me. There is a link to this post in the sidebar of my blogs just under my profile information. So, if the blogging customer wants to find out more about me they have all the information they need right at hand. I also list my email address, business name, business location, and business phone number in all the "Contact" information links of my websites.

So, if you want blogging customers to not only read your blog but buy your products then provide them with the means to get in touch with you.

Copyright © 2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Linda Walsh of Linda Walsh Originals and Linda's Blog. Linda is a doll maker and doll pattern designer.