Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Newbie's Adventures in Blogging

In January of 2011, I suddenly became inspired by the idea of getting my ideas out to the masses, spreading my "wisdom" as far as I could to whomever would choose to read it, and so I started a blog.

Picture Courtesy of Word OfMedia on
Two posts and no reads later, I decided that blogging was a royal time waster if no one would ever read what I'd written.  To quote a blogging poster, "Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few."

Now, eighteen months later, I discover A Round of Words in 80 Days, a site where fellow writers can blog as a group about our efforts toward developing our writing careers.  As I began reading the posts of fellow RoW80 participants, I knew that I had to participate, and revived this blog like a new seed sprouting from the ashes of an ancient incinerated tree.

As I started looking around the blogosphere, I started to realize exactly how plain and boring my blog was.  I looked at the list of widgets built into Blogger, and was thoroughly dissatisfied.  It wasn't that they didn't have the types of widgets I needed, but they lacked the pizazz I was looking for.

For those of you who have been blogging for several years, this is probably a moot issue.  I've seen many polished blogs, and changes are quite possibly a thing of the past.  For me, trying to get my blog to a level that I enjoyed the look, I had to dig through the internet for help.

One site I found was Spice Up Your Blog, a blog that offers regular tips and insights into blogging, including html code for some custom modifications.  For instance, those of you with a WordPress blog get the advantage of having your links for next/previous posts show the name of the post, where Blogger does not do that.  This post has code to make Blogger do the same thing.

I also found a site called Shareaholic that has animated button templates for allowing readers to share my posts through a number of outlets.  A link to them, in case you're interested, can be found here.

Finally, I saw some blogs had a widget for following the writer on a variety of different social media sites.  I searched far and wide for code for a widget I would like, but none exactly met my needs.  I ended up taking the code from this blog and then modifying the code to add additional social sites, eliminate the text-based email button, and replace it with a stylish email button with the same feel as the social site buttons.  If you are interested in the final code for this widget, after my modifications, let me know.

I should say that I don't have any experience with html code prior to this modification.  One of my goals as I continue to develop and streamline my blog is to learn the basics of html code so I can, at least, feel confident in modifying code to my needs.

So, after all this, my question to you is this:  What part of your blog are you the most proud of?  Are you willing to share your source code for your favorite widgets?  Feel free to comment at length, as I am looking for all the creative input I can receive as I continue to develop my product.


  1. Hi Mike. I've just experimented with the Blogger templates in trying to get a design that suits me. I've kept mine pretty simple so far. I enjoy taking photos and eventually, I'd like to add more of my art. But it's a process, and I'm gradually growing more comfortable with blogging itself as a medium for self-expression. I'm afraid that I don't have any favourite widgets yet! I finally got up the courage to post a photo of myself on my profile...I think you're doing very well and I can see that you've learned a lot. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks to you too for sharing! I don't know that I've learned a lot yet, but I'm learning a little bit every day. I'm not entirely comfortable yet with blogging either, as I feel in some ways like I'm journaling to the world, and that feels a little uncomfortable at times.

      I checked out your site as well, and it's simple and functional, and easy to use. I really like your blog list! I'll have to look into adding something similar in my blog.

      Have a great day, and good luck with RoW80!


Gadgets By Spice Up Your Blog