Thursday, February 3, 2011

Blogging 201 ~ Lesson #1: Design a Button Banner & A Blogroll

A common way for bloggers to enter the blogging world is thru swapping 125 x 125 buttons advertising their blogs.  Many bloggers grab buttons of other blogs they particularly like and put it on their side bar for their readers to also enjoy.  Another way of using a blog button is swapping them with other blogs of similar interest and placing them in a blog roll.  So for you to be able to enter the blogging world by use of a blog button you need
to design one.

Designing a Blog Button

The standard size of a blog button is 125 x 125 (see the examples below).  Keep that in mind when you are designing your button.  Depending on where and how bloggers want to display your button, it is best to stay within these parameters.  Many small words will not be clear enough to read and you want your blog title to stand out so it is best to keep the background simple.

Here are two pages full of blog buttons (these are all frugal shopping blogs) for you to get an idea of what some look like: We Use Coupons Blog Roll & I Heart Publix Blog Roll.  Take note of which ones stand out and why.  Look and see what styles you are drawn to.  Remember, this will be your "brand logo" and will represent you across the blogging world so make it personal.  Matching the colors or design of your blog template is a good place to start in designing it.

If you have a favorite software or photo editing site that you are used to designing on you should be able to just use that.  I like to use Publisher or Powerpoint.  If you are not savvy with design you may want to check out these two resources I came across that will help you design your button.  The first is Free 125 Cards.  They offer backgrounds that you add your text to.  I  have not tried this site but it looks very easy. They even have a blog wall to add your button to if you make it there.

The second is a tutorial at HubPages that gives step by step instructions on how to create a blog button using a free image hosting site.  They have several links for sites offering free background images, too. I also have not tried this, but am going to in order to make my blog button for Simply Blogging University.

There are dozens of ways you can use blog buttons within your own blog. If you have a series of posts on a particular topic you may want to make a button to use as a link to the list of posts.  If you are sponsoring a giveaway it is a good way to advertise it and make it easy for readers to visit the post.

Your assignment is to create your blog button.  Once you are done, you will need a way for other bloggers to have easy access to "grabbing" it to use on their site.  You will do this thru a "grab my button" box.  See the instructions below.

Simply CVS
  Clip With Purpose       Nurturing Cuisine

Creating a Grab My Button Box

When I first started blogging a kind gal gave me the link to this simple method of making a grab my button box and it has really come in handy.  It is the Grab My Button Code Generator  and is very easy to use.  You can design the box below in any colors you would like.  You may want to use the HTML Color Code Generator to choose your colors.  And if you want it to open in a new window, be sure and click the yes option on the form.

Once you have generated your code, grab it and paste into an "add a gadget" HTML on your sidebar.  You can see the examples below for what the final result on your site will look like (with your button, of course).  The box below the button will show up in your side bar the width of the sidebar; it shows up the full width of the post here.  If you would like to practice "grabbing a button" you can copy the code below and add it to your side bar--you can then easily remove it.
Simply CVS
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Simply CVS"><img src="" alt="Simply CVS" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Creating A Blogroll

A blogroll is page or post filled with links (as mine is at Simply CVS) or buttons (as seen at I Heart Publix) of other blogs.  They can be your favorites, ones you recommend to your readers or even blogs of your readers.  One of the easiest ways to promote your blog and get your newly created blog button out in the blogging world is to swap buttons with other bloggers.  You can do this and fill up your side bars or your footer with blog buttons or you can create a blogroll.

If you have enough pages (blogger allows ten) it is a good idea to use a page and have the link to your blogroll in a tab with your other pages.  This is what a lot of bloggers do (see I Heart Publix as an example of this).  You can also put a link or little banner with a link in your sidebar to take readers to your blogroll (this is what I have done at Simply CVS).

Your assignment is to create a blogroll.  Many bloggers put a little note of introduction in about the blogs included or how to be added to the blogroll.  Once your blogroll is completed and you have added a navigational link somewhere on your blog, go out and grab some blog buttons to add.

To request to be added to a blog roll either leave a comment on the blog roll post or email the blog author. Describe your blog and why you would like to include their blog in your blogroll and why you think yours would be a good match for theirs.


JRFrugalMom said...

Fantastic Cheryl! This is so much easier than what I do. I have shared this with my readers at Frugality Is Free

Cheryl said...

Great, JR! So glad you found it helpful and you shared it so even more bloggers can take advantage of it.

Mommies and Beyond said...

Thank-you for sharing this great information. I am trying to learn more about blogging. I am now following you. I would love for you to visit me at mommies and beyond dot com! Thank-you again!

Cheryl said...

Hi, Mommies, I'll stop by. Unfortunately I am not posting much at all right now--since my sister passed I haven't gotten to get this back going again, hopefully soon :-).