It’s Not Over!

So glad to hear that pieces of Fab Free will remain open. A wonderful resource for many of us in SL. 🙂

FabFree - Fabulously Free in SL

Hello FabFree Folks,

After reading the enormous outpouring of supportive and kind comments regarding FabFree and it’s positive impact on the grid, Prudence, Julianna and myself were inspired to put our heads together and come to the conclusion that there is just no way we can put an end to such a caring community of people.  We have realized that there was a time before the complexity that Fabfree has grown into with multiple groups, a headquarters and a large designer listing that was still quite “fabulous”.

We have re-structured our management (again, try to keep up with us! lol) and will be staying open, but making some very big changes, turning back the clock a bit to make things more easily managed by our team of Volunteers.

*  Blog:  Our blog will remain open and active – continuing to feature free and under 75L offers.

*  Inworld Group:  We…

View original post 183 more words

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Now I’ve Done It

FB Photo Dimension
Maybe I’ll remember the dimensions this time! 😛

Yep, I’ve gone and created a Facebook page.  😛

So now I can (hopefully) keep better track of SL goings on – I am ‘liking’ pages and joining groups and sending friends requests like mad!

(If you’re on Facebook, find my page here.)

Now I need to get busy doing stuff to fill it up. 🙂

I have a week break before things get back to normal busy in RL again, so I thought I’d take advantage of the extra time and do some of those things I’ve been meaning to do, but never seem to get around to doing.

Facebook page – check.

New curriculum – check.

Current classes – check.

Dancing – check.

Photography – check.

Social Media Certification – working on it!

I’ve been busily grid hopping to different events (did everything open in October??!!) and I have a ton of boxes to open and sort.

What fun!

I’m trying to finish Octoberville, and then make my way over to the Peatonville Asylum.

And, though I’ve sworn off most gachas, the TAG! gacha event is open, and I have to at least go check it out, right? 😛

AND  – I managed to win the Fallen Gods gift from their Fortune Teller machine.

Woohoo!!

Blogging and Photography

Blog PosterYesterday there was a discussion in a blogger group about uploading photographs to blogs and other places, like Flickr. When I started this blog, I didn’t have a Flickr account, and I wasn’t taking many in-world photos. As I’ve gotten more into photography, I’ve added things to my workflow. I’m sure, however, that sometimes the way I do things isn’t the cleanest or fastest or easiest way.

Uploading Photos

The discussion turned to not uploading your photos multiple times. I have always uploaded my photos directly to WordPress. As I said, when I started this blog, I didn’t have a Flickr, so embedding photos from Flickr wasn’t an option. After some research, I began resizing my photos (making them smaller) and saving them as .jpeg’s for uploading, because .jpeg’s load faster than other types of files. And in this day and age of ‘immediate satisfaction,’ making people wait an extra 2 seconds for your photo to load can kill your traffic – quite literally. There are always tradeoffs, however; although you get a faster loading time from .jpeg’s, they are not as high quality as a .png, for example. (For a more in-depth discussion of file types, see here.) That means, however, that I also have to spend time uploading each photo to Flickr.

Embedding Photos

A reason that people give for embedding photos from Flickr is that if you are using a ‘free’ blogging platform (like WordPress or Blogger), there is a limit on your storage. I have been blogging for over a year, and to date I’ve used 11% of my storage limit with WordPress. So, in theory, I could continue doing things as I have been, and in 3 more years, I would be nearing the 50% limit.  (My photos are generally around the 640 pixels wide mark when I post them in my blog, in case you’re curious.) I’ve noticed that many other bloggers embed their photos from Flickr, and I’ve wondered why. I thought it had to do with encouraging people to click through to their Flickr accounts, thus giving them more views per image (many blogger applications require a views-per-image quota). Some said it was because of the storage limit on blogs.  A free account on Flickr gives you 1TB of storage.  So clearly Flickr has an advantage when it comes to storage. It turns out that embedding from Flickr meets a few other needs as well.

Feed Needs

I didn’t know this, but apparently some feeds (blogs which aggregate posts all in one place) have a limit on the size of photos (around 640 pixels wide was the general consensus).  So if you are syndicated (i.e. – your blog is linked to a feed), you need to limit the size of your photos.  When you embed a photo from Flickr, you can specify the size that you would like to embed, thus ensuring that you are within feed guidelines.  It also means you can upload a larger sized photo to Flickr, and then put a smaller version of it on your blog.  So if someone wants to view your work in more detail, they can simply click through the link on your blog and go straight to your photo on Flickr. There are a ton of SL photography tips and tricks out on the web.  I did spend some time yesterday looking through a ‘photography tips and tricks’ section on a blog, but most of the posts were old – some as old as 2009.  Things change quickly in SL because of changes in technology, thus information that was relevant in 2009 isn’t that helpful today.  So I thought I’d share with you a few things that I do when I take photos.  I am no expert, so feel free to use what works for you, and discard what doesn’t. 🙂

Basics

There are a few basic things you should know about photography in general.  One of the most basic rules is the rule of thirds.  You should also familiarize yourself with some rules for composition.  These links are for RL photography, but the rules apply to SL photography as well. You should learn about lighting – there’s a ton of information out there, but it can be very specific to what effect you are trying to achieve, so I would encourage you to play around and see what works for you.  I also look at my photograph critically before I take it – is there anything that is positioned oddly?  Is there a tree branch or a light post that appears to be sticking out of my subject’s head or body? Is there anything around the perimeter of the photo that seems off/odd?  Taking some time to apply these basics will save you a ton of time later.

Graphics

I use the Firestorm Viewer to take a lot of my photos.  There’s a great explanation of how to set up your viewer to take high-res photos by Harlow Heslop here.  Taking high-res photos means that you can resize them without losing a lot of detail.  I also love using the Black Dragon viewer to take photos.  It seems to be less taxing on my computer, even at the high/ultra graphics settings.  Again, play around and find out what works for you.

Extras

There are lots of things you can do to add to your photos.  You can use tools to help with lighting, or make your own projectors.  You can use windlights to get different effects.  You can use things like depth of field to change how your photos look.  You can use photography tools like the LumiPro hud or others.  Again, don’t be afraid to experiment.  I learn more from my mistakes than my successes. 🙂  There are also lots of things you can do once you’ve taken a photo.  You can edit it – I use Photoshop, but you can use GIMP, or a web service like PicMonkey.  You can apply filters or actions to your photos to get certain effects (On1 has a free editor called Perfect Effects that has a ton of filters/effects you can use.)

Just Do It

Be bold – try something you never thought you could.  Even if that is just taking a photo at all.  Look at other people’s photos and try to figure out how they did what they did.  The photo I am currently using as a header is one I took after experimenting.  I wanted to see if I could make the water look like a mirror.  I knew it was possible, having seen it in other’s photos.  But I didn’t have any instructions, so I just played around with the windlight settings until I got the effect I wanted.  I could have just searched on the web and found the instructions, but doing it myself was much more satisfying.  Now I have a mirror windlight I can use whenever I want, and I have a better understanding of how windlights and water work in SL.  🙂

Tips To Help Grow Your Blog

GrowYourBlog
Image Source: http://www.skipprichard.com

When I started blogging, I just knew that I wanted to write.

With sites like WordPress and Blogspot, it’s easy.

Create an account, log in, and start blogging!

Then, like everything else, it turns out there’s actually work involved.  -.-

I don’t only have to worry about topics to write about and writing well, I have to worry about adding images, sizing images, page load times, increasing traffic, links, pingbacks, SEO, alt tags, descriptions, categories, tags, slugs – the list is endless.

It’s all a little overwhelming when you first start.

Thankfully, you don’t have to know everything. 😀

A few months ago, Becky over at SL Blogger Support started writing a series of articles aimed at helping bloggers to become better at blogging.

Many of the steps I already knew, but I had gotten lazy and wasn’t paying attention.

Niche

The first article was about finding a ‘niche’ for your blog.

There are literally millions of blogs, so finding that niche can help you find readers.

I’m still in the process of defining and refining my niche – just asking some very basic questions about my blog made me realize that I had wandered from my original purpose.

My blog is like me – it changes and grows.

As I learn about new things, I want to share what I learn.

So although my original audience was people interested in dance, I have expanded to include photography, art, and sometimes fashion.

(Maybe ‘style’ is a better word than fashion – I’m not always on top of the latest trends, but I know what I like. 😀 )

SEO

The next article was about SEO – what it is and how to use it for good. 😛

This one made me a bit angry with myself – some of these were very simple things that I knew and should have been doing, but wasn’t.

Grrr.

I made a few changes to my blog – I changed my tagline to reflect the added topics, and I changed my theme to one that offered better formatting/readability options than my previous one.

I am still debating whether it’s worth it to me to pay for a domain name or if I should just continue with the free WordPress option.

I know a fellow blogger had issues when changing over from the free WP site to a paid domain, and I don’t want to make extra headaches for myself.

While my dream is to someday get paid to write, I’m not there yet.

With only one income and lots of expenses (college tuition, anyone?), sometimes it’s hard to justify any extra spent on ‘frivolous’ purchases. 😦

As I was debating domains and upgrades, I came across a post from another blogger – Do I REALLY need to pay for that?

Sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re making the right decisions.

It’s nice to see that I’m not the only one who’s trying to figure it all out. 🙂

I did take Becky’s advice and I signed up for Google’s Webmaster Tools.

However, I don’t find using said tools to be intuitive in any way whatsoever, so I’ve decided to ignore them for now, and concentrate on things I do understand.

My SEO Changes

I have been paying attention to my post titles and changing the slugs to help with searches.

My LOTD posts are numbered, but since they are not my primary focus for the blog, I’m not too concerned with them.

When I started the LOTD posts, I was taking the photos in-world and saving them as .png files to preserve details.

However, .png files load more slowly.

Slow loading times can kill your traffic – because it needs to be instant on the internet. 😛

So I have begun resizing my images when I edit them and I save them as .jpegs rather than .pngs.

There is some loss in quality, but the faster load times are worth it.

What I wasn’t doing was giving my images (LOTD and others) meaningful titles.

Nor was I filling in the alt tags.

I make sure that I am doing both of those now.

Buffer has a great post on how to optimize images for blogs and social media.

I also have begun breaking up text-heavy posts (like this one!) with subheadings to help with readability.

Growing Your Blog

One of the things Becky mentioned is feeds and that if you are on feeds, search engines may see your blog as ‘duplicate content,’ which can hurt your search rankings.

For many SL fashion bloggers, being on feeds is a must.

You can, as Becky suggests, set it up so that your posts only show as excerpts so that readers have to click through to your blog to read the entire post.

However, some feeds specifically say that you must not show excerpts only – so what to do?

You would think that being on feeds would get you more traffic, but it turns out that isn’t always the case.

Becky’s latest post was one that really got me thinking.

I actually printed it out and made notes on it as I read through it.  (Nerd? Me? Noooo!)

Again, much of what she writes are things I knew, but wasn’t using to my advantage.

Having taught journalism, I knew about headlines, subheads, pull quotes, etc.

(Side note: Pull quotes and other cool options are sometimes only available with WordPress.org.  Rather frustrating when you are using WordPress.com – another item to weigh when deciding whether to pay or use the free version of WP.)

When you teach literature, however, the writing style rules are different.

Some things are too ingrained for me to change (like double spacing after a period), but I certainly need to be more aware of my writing style if I want my blog to grow.

It also made me go back through my blog and look at what people were actually reading, not what I thought they were. 😀

Social Media

In addition to your blog itself, tying into social media is almost a must these days.

But with so many platforms available, which one(s) do you choose?

For me, it’s been trial and error.

I loathe Facebook, so even though I could probably benefit from using it, I won’t.

I have found a nice alternative on Avatar Social Network, and I am having a good time using it.

I joined Twitter and found that I really like it.

I have started using TweetDeck and following various topics of interest – I’ve found it extremely useful.

I also learned about Twitter Cards – if you don’t have one, get one!

I’m on Google+, but I don’t have a page as yet.

Plus (no pun intended), Google has been making some changes, so I’m waiting to see what happens there for a bit before I jump in.

I joined Reddit, but I haven’t found it particularly useful or busy.

I was told the SL Universe Forums were another popular place – I joined, and for now I’m lurking while I figure it out. 😛

I joined Plurk a few days ago, and I must say, I like it a lot.

I’ve always heard it was full of drama, but I haven’t found that to be true (yet).

There was a hilarious thread about someone squatting on someone else’s sim (I’m still laughing), so while I feel like a complete noob using it, I’m having a good time!

I’m also on Ello, but the last time I checked, it wasn’t very active, so I’m holding off on that one for a while as well.

Photography

Since I’ve fallen in love with taking photos in-world, I’ve joined KoinUp and Flickr.

The KoinUp interface is kind of ‘old-school,’ but there are a lot of great artists there, and I’m slowly learning my way around.

I’m still trying to figure out how to add a widget for my KoinUp photos, so if you know how – help a girl out!

KoinUp also lets you cross-post to Flickr and you can email snapshots directly to your KoinUp if you want.

I haven’t done either of those yet, but options are always nice. 🙂

Flickr, I’m finding, is an entirely different ball of wax.

I found some terrific artists and photographers to follow and I started uploading my own photos.

Then I had to learn about licensing, groups, tags, etc.

Just when I thought I had a handle on how folks use Flickr, I came across a post about Flickr advice.

I realized I wasn’t adding enough tags to my photos and that I should be adding my photos to more groups if I want more views (and hopefully more readers).

I’d been adding my photos to 5-10 groups and feeling slightly guilty for adding them to so many.

The guilt evaporated after learning that many people are adding their photos to 200+ groups – no wonder they were getting so many views!

In one of my in-world blogger groups, there was a discussion about people ‘reposting’ pictures on Flickr as a way to get more views.

(A certain number of views per photo on Flickr are required on some blogger applications for SL creators.)

I didn’t even know you could ‘repost’ a photo. 😛

Summary

There’s a wealth of information out there about how to grow your blog.

Use it!

  • Know who you’re writing for.
  • Learn to write better headlines.
  • Format your content for easier reading and optimize your images for faster loading.
  • Use social media to interact with others and gain followers/readers.

Above all, don’t forget to have fun!

WordPress takes down Second Life Blogger’s snapshots due to SL creator’s DMCA notice

Just a reminder that as a blogger, you need to pay attention to TOS and copyright regs. 🙂

Canary Beck

Te.k v6 One of Eve Kazan’s snapshots (from Flickr) showing Prometheus’ products (robotic arms) and their competitor’s (Neurolab) logo

Second Life Blogger Eve Kazan returned from a holiday abroad in Spain to find WordPress had taken down three snapshots she published on her blog postPrometheus Creations Studio, owned by Second Life resident Irine Abbot, filed the DMCA with WordPress’s owner, Automattic Inc on May 22nd.

Creator Irine Abott of Prometheus Creations first communicated with Ms Kazan on May 14th about the alleged infringement of the snapshots she published on April 3, 2014, via Facebook:

I was happy to see the robotic arms used in creative ways. However I was not happy to see my products used in commercially advertising a competitor, presenting the impression that they are from Neurolabs. I would appreciate it if you could please either remove the photos or add the product listing of the arms in the post as you did with…

View original post 365 more words

Is Anyone Listening?

Black HoleIn previous posts, I’ve asked for information about feeds and readers.

I’ve talked about stats before and how I try not to look at them too often.

However, after reading a post by Nalates Urriah today, I’m wondering how much longer I will be able to view my stats.

Everyone knows that stats are important when it comes to the internet.

As a blogger, you have stats that tell you many things – the number of followers, how many times a post was viewed, how many times someone visited your site, the country of origin for your readers, etc.

If people find your blog via a search engine, there is a place for you to see what search terms brought them to your blog.

Lately, when I look at that stat for my blog, it says ‘unknown search terms.’

WordPress tells you ‘some search engines don’t reveal search terms for privacy reasons.  That’s why we don’t always know which search terms were used by visitors who arrived at your site from a search engine.  When we don’t know the search terms, we show them as “Unknown search terms”.’

Since Google is now encrypting more and more searches, it’s that much harder for WP to tell me how people are finding my blog.

According to Nalates’ post, there is a possibility of finding out more information using Google’s Webmaster tools.

However, using these tools is confusing (at least to me), if you are not a techy person (which I am not).

So I rely on WP to provide my stats (because they employ very techy people).

I also came across another issue that concerns bloggers when it comes to feeds/readers.

I set up a Feedly account so that I could keep up with all the blogs I follow.

In doing research on different readers, I saw a question about views.

It seems that if you view a blog post in a reader, it does not count as a view for that blog – unless you actually click through to that website (to ‘like’ or perhaps post a comment).

That’s frustrating, since views and followers are essential for successful blogging.

Often blogging can feel like you are screaming into a giant black hole.

You wonder if anyone is listening.

Syndication and Feeds

Image Source:  www.globesign.com
This diagram makes my head hurt. 😦 Image Source: http://www.globesign.com

As I work to increase the reach of my blog, I’ve found myself wondering how other bloggers do things.

One of the recommended ways to increase blog traffic is to be syndicated.

The definition of syndication, according to Dictionary.com, is “to publish simultaneously, or supply for simultaneous publication, in a number of newspapers or other periodicals in different places.”

As I have become more active in the blogging world, I’ve noticed that most vendors who are looking for bloggers want to know what ‘feeds’ your blog is on in the application.

Now, as I’m sure you’re aware, there are MILLION blogs about SL.

Probably 95% of them are fashion blogs.

My blog is not a fashion blog, although I do LOTD posts.

Following links on other blogs, I’ve found a couple of blogs that are ‘feeds.’

However, the process for getting a blog on a feed is a mystery to me.

I am clueless as to how you locate a ‘feed’ (especially if you are not a fashion blogger) and what the requirements are for getting on a feed.

I would love to get my blog on a ‘feed/s’ and be able to claim syndication, but alas, I am a (mostly) dance blog lost in a sea of clothing. 😦

In addition to syndication/feeds, I wonder how other bloggers manage to stay up to date with the overwhelming amount of info that is published each day on the interwebs.

I use the WordPress reader to follow blogs, but if the blog I want to follow is not also a WordPress blog (if, for example, it’s a Blogger blog or even a self-hosted blog), the updates on the Reader feed are hit and miss.

I might get the latest post from Tales of the Blue Moon, or I might not.

I never know.

I don’t want to have to visit every website to check for updates (that’s the whole point of a feed reader, right?), so I’ve been very frustrated.

I’ve tried to see if there is something I need to change in the settings for my WP Reader, but haven’t had any luck locating any information.

I will continue to use WP for my blog, because I love it, but I’m considering buying a domain and going self-hosted.

I’m also wondering if I should use a different feed reader (like Feedly) instead of relying on the built-in WP reader.

Are there options out there that would also help with cross-posting in the various social media platforms?

Trying to keep up every day with blogs, Twitter, Google+, emails, Flickr, and other social media is taking way more time than I’d like it to.

I don’t have a Google Page (is that worth doing?), I’m on Ello (does anyone use Ello?), and I’m wondering if I’m already on too many platforms, or if I’m not on enough.

So, fellow bloggers/readers/social media experts – help a girl out here!

What do you do or recommend in regards to feeds/readers/syndication/social media?

Any and all information is appreciated.

Happy Friday, everyone!