Welcome to the Let’s Get Inspired series here on http://www.thoughtsnlifeblog.com.
Today, we share the second part of our interview with pendantry. In part one we learnt about his blogging journey and his many tips for us WordPress.com users.
In this final interview with pendantry we learn about how he uses social media, what tools he uses for his graphics, some technical tips that involve a little HTML, and finally his blogging advice for us bloggers. And I challenge you to spot his BC reference and make a comment below; your prize will be a good laugh! Finally, if you have a technical question, no matter how small, do comment below and I am sure pendantry will help.
Pendantry is the seventh blogger in this series and I have more lined up. I hope you enjoy this interview and it inspires you. Please do visit the other bloggers who have been interviewed – details are below.
What software do you use to create your graphics?
Most of my image work is done using Paint Shop Pro, by Jasc – version 6, which I bought on DVD back in 2000… and I’m glad I did, because I’ve been able to reinstall it several times since and thus avoid buying into the constant – and totally unnecessary – ‘upgrades’ it has undergone.
PSP6 is like a pair of comfy old slippers. I know how to get it to do exactly what I want it to do, whether that’s rotate an image, resize it, add text or transform it in some other way, and the software quietly complies. I never need to curse it for changing the way it does things (as is my wont with ‘upgrades’ to various other software packages).
Unfortunately, though, I think its days may be numbered. In Windows 8.1 it now complains (twice!) every time I start it up that it has ‘failed to update the system registry’, and suggests (for some reason that I’ve never bothered investigating) that I use regedit. I just hit the ‘OK’ button (twice), and it then continues without an issue. But in a few short months (Jan2023) Windows 8.1 falls out of ‘extended support’; I’ll probably be forced to ‘upgrade’ to Windows 10, and I strongly suspect that my comfy slippers may have to be finally discarded. We’ll see.
Other than that, I’ve occasionally used ‘Canva’ and ‘Wordclouds’ to generate images. As for other imagery, especially photographs, I always try to ensure that it’s either in the public domain or that I have the copyright holder’s permission to use it. And of course I always credit the originator wherever possible. I get most of my photographic images from Unsplash.
As for time… it doesn’t usually take that long to create something – once I have the right image. I often spend more time trawling for something appropriate than I do editing it (which is more often than not just a case of size optimisation so that I’m not unnecessarily uploading some multi-megabyte file – see my post Turbo-boost your site by optimising images for more information!).
You are quite a technical blogger. Can you provide 3 of your blog posts that include easy coding tips for the general blogger?
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an old fogey from BC, Before Computers; I’ve been messing around with computers since they first became available. I’ve picked up a lot of stuff along the way. I got a bachelor’s degree in computer science back in 1993, just as the Internet was beginning to take off. Naturally, I delved into that, and that led to learning HTML (hypertext markup language).
Now, although it’s a ‘language’, HTML is far less complex and easier to understand than a computer programming language. Anyone can pick up enough HTML to be useful, with a bit of effort. I recommend taking a gander at w3schools.com, or the HTML course on Khan Academy.
It is possible (at least currently) to use at least some HTML and CSS in the WordPress block editor – although I suspect that WordPress may be looking at trying to lock it down so that you can only do so if you’re on a ‘premium plan’… I’m not sure about that, but I had a discussion with a Happiness Engineer a short while ago (about the reblogging problem I’ve been encountering lately) and the ‘solution’ offered to me involved ‘upgrading to a premium plan so that I could use CSS to address the problem’ (sadly, totally ignoring the fact that the real problem is that it’s caused by a bug in WordPress).
As for how to do it in the block editor: pick a block (any block), click on the ‘options’ icon (three vertical dots), then select ‘Edit as HTML’ (and then to switch back to normal view, hit ‘options’ again and select ‘Edit visually’). As for why you might want to do it, well, here are a couple of examples, things I often do when creating a post:
- add mouseover tooltips to links to give clues where they go (sadly, this has no effect at all when the page is viewed on a dumbphone – no mouse, go figure!). See my post ‘How to add mouseover tooltips to links in WordPress’.
- add white space between bullet points (I really, really hate the walloftext that is the default rendering WordPress provides in bullet lists, it makes the content really difficult to read). I haven’t (yet) written a post explaining how to do that, so here it is in a nutshell: in a list block, change every instance of ‘<li>’ except the last one to ‘<li style=”margin-bottom:10px;”>’. A caveat, though: there’s (currently) a bug that will revert all the opening <li> tags back to plain old <li>s if you edit any of the content in the list in ‘visual’ mode (it’s fine if you amend the text while in HTML mode). I tried to tell WordPress about that, but they didn’t seem interested 😦
Hmm… I’m scratching my head to think of other things I use HTML for these days, and I’m not coming up with anything that can’t already be done in the editing interface. Once upon a time it was necessary to employ <em> (emphasis) tags to render text in italics, and <strong> to use boldface, but those days are long gone. Maybe some of your readers will be able to suggest ideas?
Oh: there is one other thing I use HTML for in WordPress, but that’s not in blog posts or pages, it’s to put links into comments. See my post ‘How to embed links in WordPress comments’ for more information – which gives you two of the three links you asked for; sorry, there isn’t a third 🙂 But, yes, of course you can come back to me for help, if you need it. Always!
How do you use your social media accounts to draw people to your blog?
I have had a Twitter account (@pendantry) for years. I don’t use it much, though; it’s too much of a wasteful time sink for my liking. I do use it to promote things like petitions that I think are important, and, naturally, to let my Twitter followers know when I publish a new post on Wibble. I know some people – I’m looking at you, @ellen_hawley of Notes from the U.K.! 😉 – do take note of at least some of those advisory tweets.
As with ‘views’ and ‘likes’ and other stats, there’s a fascination with follower counts in all social media. It seems clear to me that the number affects the perception of popularity, and a bigger number is preferable for that reason alone. However, I’m well aware that it’s just an indicator, and doesn’t mean all that much. I wrote a post some time ago (‘How to increase your blog following’) about that.
The ‘followers’ widget on Wibble tells me that I currently have 1150 ‘followers’ (@21Mar2021). But in the ‘Stats’ section, it tells me I have 912, or 899, depending on where I look. ‘Stats’ also informs me that I have 13 ‘email followers’, which, I guess, would explain that discrepancy (899+13=912); but since it’s possible to follow a WordPress blog with or without email, perhaps some, or all, of those 13 are duplicates.
‘Stats’ also tells me I currently have 238 ‘Social’ followers; I assume that’s the sum of my Twitter and Facebook followers, since I have those linked to my WordPress account. Twitter tells me that I have 192 followers there, so I guess that the other 46 are from Facebook… I’ll test that now: a short while ago, I kicked Facebook into touch (see my post ‘Goodbye, Facebook – and, good riddance’); I’ve never liked its intrusive attitude to privacy, and finally decided it was time to sever the very one-sided relationship. Since then, WordPress has been warning me (in WP-admin) that ‘There is an issue connecting to Facebook.’ So, I’ll put it out of its misery, and hit ‘Disconnect’: there we go. OK: ‘Social’ followers has dropped to 191 (not 192, the number Twitter reports? odd)… Wibble still shows a total of 1150 though.
Maybe that will drop by a half hundred soon? [edit, later that day: yes, it did, it’s now showing 1103.] I’m not really that bothered. After all, for all I know some of those folks have already passed away. ‘Social’ media doesn’t recognise death; a fact of life I’ve long found ironic. The various platforms flaunt their membership numbers (again, the bigger the better) but they’re not at all transparent about what proportion of those members are active. I’ve lost a few good friends in recent years, yet ‘social’ media still invites me to celebrate events with them. I’d love to, of course, but it’s a tad difficult when they’re pushing up the daisies.
While on the subject, a decade ago I posted ‘A netwise guide on the death of a friend’… O.0 I see that’s got a couple of missing videos, and I bet the information I present there could use a refresh, too. I guess I ought to address that. Now, where did I put that round tuit?
General blogging advice for bloggers: Do you have any advice for bloggers starting or struggling with blogging?
Yes, I do! Before you hit that beckoning ‘Publish’ button:
- Check your work – but don’t overdo it: typos are slippery critters; you can get to the point where you miss them even though some remain, because your mind is convinced that you got them all (when you really haven’t).
- If you can, get someone else to read your work and give you feedback on it – among other things, they may spot typos you’ve missed. (Years ago, WordPress had what I thought was a very useful feature that allowed you to solicit feedback from others via the WordPress system itself, but that, sadly, disappeared as quietly as it was introduced.)
- Always preview posts. There’s something magical about a preview that allows you to spot things you’ll have missed in the editor.
- Consider scheduling each and every post. Sleep on it; give it time to marinate. Many’s the time I’ve thought I’ve finalised a post, only to suddenly realise, perhaps days later, that there’s a way to improve it.
- Always count up the total of the ‘categories’ and ‘tags’ you’ve allocated to each post, because if you exceed 15 the post won’t appear in the WordPress Reader.
- Less is more. People generally don’t read articles, especially not long ones; they skim them. I would say that a good rule of thumb is that if your post is longer than 750 words, it’s worth at least considering trimming it, or splitting it into smaller chunks. And, yes, I should take that advice to heart more often myself 🙂
- Last but not least: check your facts (and provide links to them). Misinformation is a curse.
Are you inspired, motivated?
I hope you have enjoyed this two part interview with pendantry and it would be lovely if you visit his blog Wibble for more fun.
Do visit again to read the stories of other bloggers interviews I have lined up as 2021 progresses.
Pendantry is the seventh blogger I have interviewed as part of this series, below are the other six, please do take time to read their interviews.
Thank you for popping by and I look forward to speaking to you soon.
Images: Feature image created on canva.com, pixel, and the other images have been supplied by pendantry (therefore belong to him!)