Creating the perfect blog post doesn’t happen overnight. For new bloggers, it’s important keep in mind that blogging is a work in progress. If you are blogging in the classroom, your blog posts won’t need to be pin perfect. Some of what I share won’t even be necessary for classroom blogging.
Over the past five years, I have learned quite a bit. For me, one of the things I love most about blogging is the fact that you’re learning all of the time. We have the opportunity to learn something new through the whole process. Certainly in this blog post, I won’t be able to share all I know, but let’s get started and see where the post goes. If you have questions, you can join my Blogging for Beginners Facebook Group
Making the Most of Your Blog Post Text
There are many things we can do with text to help our readers make sense of the key points we’re sharing. If you think about books you’ve read, anchor charts used in a classroom, or about articles you see on internet, they all have illustrations, photos, charts or graphs, headings, bold print, or italics that point out the big ideas and important details. As writers, we need to break up the important points using the tools included with our blogging platforms. Below, I’ve added a screenshot of the editing tools included with blogger and will explain how to best use them.
Editing Tools You Have to Work With:
Using Compose Mode versus HTML Mode
Now there are some text commands that are very clear and easy to understand. I took a screenshot of my blogging page. When you are creating your post, you type it just like you would in Microsoft Word. You use the compose mode when you’re typing. The HTML mode is complicated, and until you know and understand a little with HTML code, I would not mess with that mode.
Formatting Your Blog Post Fonts
Below the blogging mode tab, you see the row of formatting tools. The back arrow is the reverse or undo button. (handy at times, but you can always use control Z to undo your last move or recover text too. Next is the F with the down arrow. The F stands for font, and the blog has a default font chosen, so I seldom use that button. I like to be consistent with my blogging font, and you will too.
Next is the font size button. This is another I seldom use. I prefer instead to use headings, subheadings, minor headings, and normal for font size changes. Using the size tab can cause formatting issues, and you want to avoid that. When I first started blogging, I did not realize this issue, and now I’m revising posts to fix the problem I created. By using headings and subheadings, we break up the text and add some white space. This will focus attention on the big points versus reading like a novel. I recommend you avoid changing the font or font size.
The next six formatting tools are the bold, italics, underline, strike, font color, and highlight tools. These tools are found in all word processing software, and they work the same.
Links, Photos, Videos, Emojis, and Page Breaks
Links and Photos
In the fifth column of tools, you’ll see the link symbol, a photo, a clapboard, a smile, and a torn paper. The link icon is used to hyperlink text or images. To add links, you’ll highlight either the text or image and then click the link button. You will have to do it twice on the image (strange blogger issue) and save.
For images, there is one more very important step and that is to add alternative texts for the Pinterest description. When the image is pinned, it will pull in just the blog post title if the Alt Text is left blank. We typically want more than that for our descriptions. Many people fail to take the time to add the information. In the pin above, the top description comes from the “search description” (right side of blogging page in blogger or the meta data in Word Press). The bottom description comes from the Alt Text blocks. I type the same message in both lines when I’m in a pinch, but adding your key words in your description will help SEO.
Image Size and Why It Matters
Also, when I type up the Alt Text lines, I also make sure my image is set to ORIGINAL. It’s important that bloggers size images BEFORE adding them to the post and that they are saved as JPG files versus PNG. Why? File size matters with your site speed and site health. Also, you do not have to put all images in the center. If you notice in my posts, you’ll see images to the right and left of text. With newer blog templates from Georgia Lou Studios, photos set to “original size” fill the blog space as long as they are more than the blogging width. The title image at the top is set to original size, and the blog template makes it automatically fit into the space.
Adding Videos to Your Blog Post
The clapboard is the icon you use to add videos you’ve taken. You upload them just like you do photos. However, use caution. Loading videos really slows down your site just like sliders do. Instead, load them to Youtube. Videos have to be less than 100 mb in size and can be an mp4, mov, or wvm file type. Small clips are definitely best, and if you take a video with your phone, it would most likely be fine as long as it isn’t too long. I have embedded Youtube videos in posts before, and it’s very helpful to teachers.
Using Emojis in Your Blog Posts
Blogger just added the option of emojis,. We all love emojis, and since this post was first completed, I’ve learned that it’s important to leave the emojis out of your posts. They can slow your site down, and they are not read well by search engines.
Adding Page Breaks
Why use them? Well, here’s where they are important. If you go to my home page, you’ll notice the “read more” buttons. Those show up where a page break has been added UNLESS the theme is set to trigger one after 300 words or something like that. Without the break, most sites display one or two posts on my home page depending on the length. Instead, it’s better to show previous posts too. Think about this series for a minute. You can see the three previous posts and know that you can start at the beginning to have a full understanding of blogging in the classroom.
Formatting Blog Post Paragraphs
The last column of tools above are used to organize the paragraphs. The first tab is used to left justify, center, or right justify your paragraphs. You’ll notice most of the headings and subheadings I’ve chosen are left justified, but I could have easily centered my main headings. I did change the headings and subheadings to a dark blue to match my blog’s color scheme, and many people do that just for branding purposes. One important thing to note though is that after you hit enter, be sure to change the color back to black for your text. Otherwise, it would have continued to be dark blue!
Another option we have is to use bullets or numbering for making lists. In both cases, blogger shifts the text automatically like this:
- Example #1
- Example #2
Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.Thomas Edison
Or you may prefer a manual look (center text, bold, quotes):
Next to the quote icon, you’ll see the “remove formatting” tab. If you type up a post in MS Word or want to copy/paste text from another file, you will want to use this button. Inserting anything from another file is doable, but it adds a TON of unnecessary HTML code. Why is this an issue? Well, it leads to a very slow load time. I suggest you always write your posts in Blogger or the platform you choose. Now, if you’re running a classroom blog, you may opt to have your kids type information up in Google Docs or Word and email it to you. Again, this is fine. Just make sure you remove the formatting.
The final icon is spell check of course, and I suspect you’ll know how to use that.
Let’s Address Blog Post Settings
On the right, you’ll see a screenshot of the post setting options. The first item in the list is labels. Now this is a very very important topic to discuss. Labels become hashtags on Bloglovin which makes them searchable. They are also handy if you have multiple posts on the same topic such as #bloggingintheclassroom or #blogging , but labels can create a BIG mess if you display every single label on your site.
When I first began blogging, most bloggers included all of their labels in a label cloud. Over time, we discovered that it clutters up the sidebar. I recommend you display no more than 15-20 labels or categories on your site. If you look at mine, I’ve narrowed the list to 6 main categories. In all honesty, I think it’d look cleaner to have between 5 and 10 total, but it’s personal preference! To select the labels you’d like to display, here’s a wonderful tutorial from Georgia Lou Studios on how to customize your labels gadget. Click [HERE]
In the last block, there are setting options. Honestly, I haven’t looked at that section much until writing this post, so I just discovered that this is where you can turn commenting on and off. There are some instances where you might want to do this, so now you know how.
Additional Reading for Blogging in the Classroom:
Well, I think this wraps it up. If you’re interested in learning a little more, here are the links to the other posts I’ve done on blogging. I really recommend skimming through each even if you have a little blogging experience. Every post I read on blogging, apps, video, or other tech topic I’m interested in, I learn something new or it gets me thinking in a new direction. If you are blogging with your students, you may want to share the links, use them for modeling, or review them to form your key teaching points.
Now remember that blogging is a new adventure. Think of blogging as a blank canvas. You can share your craft, extend learning, teach and learn a little design, and most importantly, explore creativity. Blogging in the classroom deepens learning. It informs teaching, helps us be thoughtful about how and what we are teaching, and provides a new and different method of sharing and learning information.