Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

The digital world hates vertical media

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
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I’ve recently re-learned what a nightmare it is to try to deal with vertical (portrait-oriented) media, whether pictures or videos. Why is it so hard to get them to work?

I mean, I know that all our screens are wide and so is much of how we view the world, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times that a vertical orientation isn’t useful (if not better altogether). It’s so frustrating that when I do have portrait images, they don’t always render properly and for vertical videos, it becomes difficult to edit them.

food from rollplay vietnamese restaurantFor example, the past couple of months I’ve dealt with an annoyance using WordPress. When I upload a picture that is vertical, the image doesn’t show up (this might be happening to you with the one first image). This seemed to have happened with the update that had occurred around that time. Suddenly, every vertical photo uploaded would come out blank in my blog posts. It took a lot of research and testing to figure out that if re-uploaded the image, it would then work.

More recently, I came across the added issue that if I uploaded the original file from my phone, it doesn’t have the correct orientation and instead shows horizontally, as seen below. So now I have to open the image in Paint*, save it, then it will recognize it as a vertical image (shown on the left, if you can see it). What a nightmare! Strangely enough, if you are on an iPhone, you’d see the below image the proper way, but on a laptop browser and on an Android device it’s horizontal. Yet even odder, on an iPad, it tries to show vertically, but the image is stretched out to fit horizontal dimensions.

sample of broken vertical image that does not rotate properly

So to ensure images show proper orientation across devices means I need to edit the photo before re-uploading to WP, using an image editing program like Paint or Photoshop*. It doesn’t seem to help if I rotate the image first, I usually still need to do the replace media option. And literally all I’m doing in Paint is saving it so that whatever EXIF metadata WP needs gets translated through properly and allows images to show up vertically, as they should. I guess however Apple encodes that data is incompatible with the way WordPress reads/handles the info. For now it’s working, but if things act up again I’ll look into plugins like the iOS images fixer or the Image Rotation Fixer, both of which look like promising solutions.

Additionally, I ran into issues when I was trying to edit a vertical video. Any program I opened it up in would put those awful black bars on the sides so that it ultimately took up the space of a horizontal video. I wanted a final output that would keep the vertical orientation, making it a skinny little thing. All the searching in the world only seemed to lead me to tutorials on how to change the black bars to some background, but none actually addressed my issue.

In iMovie on my mobile devices, it would crop my video to a square. I’d shrink it down so the whole thing showed, but those black bars would come to haunt me. I tried rotating it so it fit the horizontal perfectly, make my edits, save it, then try rotating it, but again: ugly black bars inserted. So ultimately I gave up on such an endeavor, but these experiences leave me wanting so much more when it comes to media editing and rendering.

You’d think in this day and age of technology that they would have figured this out by now. Why is it still such a troublesome issue?

 

*Thanks to a comment on this thread for helping me figure out that solution.

I’ve found the only way to consistently see images with proper orientation on all devices is to edit the photo before uploading to WP in an image editing program like Photoshop. – Cindy Otty

Hello Brits!

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags:
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I was checking my Alexa rank today, wondering what sort of influence people might think I have as a blogger and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I’m ranking in the UK! If you’re not familiar with Alexa ranks, it basically tells you how trafficked your website is. So the number is telling you that you’re in the top ## of active websites.

I typically hover in the 2 million mark globally and 700-800k in the US. Two years ago, I was randomly ranking in Turkey at around 100k (with 60,491 as my best). Since then I haven’t ranked in a foreign country as far as I know. But today, what a cool thing to see that nearly HALF my traffic is from the UK and I’m 177,368th in line.

alexa rank 2.10.16

Most US-based bloggers will see at least 80% of their traffic come from the US, so there must be something in the air to make all these Brits visit my site. Pretty cool and a fun little fact to make me smile. If I ever find myself focusing on building my blog more, I’ll aim to bring my global rank back down below 1 million. The best I ever had was 884,613 two years ago (whoa, on Panda’s birthday, I just noticed :)). My best US rank was 180,889 about a month before that. I’d love to beat those numbers again one day. It’s fun to see traffic grow and watch the ranks improve!

So wherever you are, I’d love to see you stick around.

How to: Create A Facebook Page

laelene Posted in how to guides,Tags: , , , , , , , ,
21

[Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of the original blog post that is now nearly three years old! This includes up-to-date instructions after some changes to Facebook’s interface.]

pinnable quote image for how to create a facebook page blog post on maryqin.com

I decided it was time for me to create a Facebook page for my little blog, so I can really try to build it out and maybe get some followers! I’d like to think that what I’m putting out there is educating or entertaining someone, but I’ve never really promoted it so it’s time to take action.

When I went to create the FB page, I (for the life of me) could NOT find where to choose the “Personal Blog” category! And that’s what spurred this entry. Read on to learn the basics for setting up a Facebook page and how to select a category like “Personal Blog,” “Personal Website,” and more!

Creating Your Facebook Page

webpage to create a new facebook page First of all, here’s where you can create a new Facebook page. As you’ll see, right away they want you to choose a category. Your desired page may fit multiple categories, so it’s up to you to decide which one is best for your needs. Of the 6 types they’ve laid out for you (1. Local Business or Place; 2. Company, Organization or Institution; 3. Brand or Product; 4. Artist, Band or Public Figure; 5. Entertainment; 6. Cause or Community), all but the last one have a dropdown menu with category choices. Don’t worry if your desired category isn’t there – just pick what’s closest or tickles your fancy. In my case, I went for “Brand or Product”and chose “Website” from the dropdown.

You will be asked to enter your page name, which should be the title of your blog, the name of your business, or whatever you want the world to know your page by. Note that Facebook has certain rules in place about what is allowed in a name – for example, I tried to enter my blog name, ((little fat notebook)), but it was immediately rejected because I’m not allowed to use symbols. You are allowed one set of parentheses, but there can only be two words in it (like this) and obviously I’d have three if I went for (little fat notebook). Alas, I then tried just plain “little fat notebook” and that’s not allowed because the name must start with an uppercase! I didn’t like how Little fat notebook looked, so I went for the boring old Little Fat Notebook. Luckily, you can change it after the fact!

Setting Up Your Facebook Page

Once you agree to their terms and click Get Started, you’re prompted to fill in a description and add links to your site(s). They now allow you to choose your vanity URL (the pretty one that looks like https://www.facebook.com/littlefatnotebook instead of https://www.facebook.com/pages/little-fat-notebook/457453117668145). Check out my post on claiming vanity URLs to learn more. Choose carefully, you can only ever change it once after that. Next upload an avatar/profile picture to represent your page.

You can then add this new page to your Favorites area for quick access. That’s the part on the left when you go to Facebook.com. Finally, you can indicate your target audience including where they’re located, what age range they’re in, their gender, and their indicated interests. You’ll then be taken to your brand new Facebook page! A quick tour is given and then you’re given free reign. Feel free to add a cover photo, invite friends to like your page, and share your very first post!

area to set up target audience of new facebook page

Changing To A Better Category

settings option for facebook pageNow here’s what you’ve been waiting for: how to make the page exactly as you want it! Under the cover photo area, click About. This takes you to Page Info where you’ll see the category you chose. Alternatively, at the top right, you’ll see Settings, which takes you to a page full of them. Along the left is a menu with “Page Info” – that brings you to the same place. Hover over the Category section to find the Edit button. From there you’ll see that the category and subcategory choices are far more plentiful than they let on earlier in the process! That’s where I found a previously unmentioned category called “Websites & Blogs,” which contains the subcategory option I had been hunting for: Personal Blog. The nice thing is that you can change this at any time, so as your site/brand evolves, you can update the category accordingly.page info section of facebook page

dropdown menu to edit facebook page category

dropdown menu to edit facebook page subcategory

So there you go! I hope that helped. If you found it useful, please like my page to show your support. 🙂

A few other tips:

When you reach 30 fans, Facebook will provide “insights” about your page, which include data about the reach of your page and each post (how many people see it, pretty much), how many people are talking about (sharing) your posts, and how many posts you’re putting up daily. You can also find cool demographic information about your followers. Basically if you’re into data, you’re going to love this part.

Note that I was able to update my page name from Little Fat Notebook to all lowercase. Unfortunately you still can’t add symbols, but as mentioned before, you can use one set of parentheses.

From now on, you can choose to interact with Facebook as yourself (personal profile) or your Page. This option is available for anything public that multiple profiles can access. You won’t see it for posts related to your private friends, for example, since Pages cannot post to personal profiles. But on other pages, you can choose to comment/like as yourself or your Page.

dropdown menu to choose facebook profile or page to interact as

I used to highly recommend putting your website URL in the Short Description so users can easily click to your site from your FB page. Now Facebook has added a Call to Action button instead, so you can set that up to get users to your site. None of the options are particularly blog-friendly though, so I’d like to see a “Read More” or “Read Now” action.

dropdown menu to set facebook page call to action button

Now that you have a Facebook page, check out my tutorials on:
~how to manage your Facebook page
~how to link your social media accounts
~how to claim your vanity URLs (as mentioned earlier in the post), and more!

You can find all my “how to” posts for useful tips like how to make a favicon and random things like how to set your iPhone/iPad to stop playing music at a certain time or even how to win a Facebook contest!

If you have any questions or tips of your own, I’d love to hear them! Please do share. 🙂

The creators, the inventors, the doers

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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I’ve always admired people who can make something. Maybe it’s gadgets or maybe it’s music. Maybe it’s art or maybe it’s crafts. It just amazes me when they can take their skills to produce an end result that we can use or enjoy again and again.

For years I wished I could be a creative. Come up with things, produce things that others would admire me for. In fact, recently I’ve been contemplating YouTube videos. Putting content out there that people could listen to and relate to, now that’s creation! I looked in admiration at all types of people who had found their passion as a child, couldn’t stop creating, and eventually followed a path to put out amazing things. “What about me?” I thought as I reflected on skills I wish I had, like making soap or cooking or singing or dancing.

Yet all this time, I never realized that I have been creating. This very blog, in fact.

For some reason, because it’s not something I can open up an Etsy shop for or record a video or audio file of, I never considered it creating. Why did I not see it earlier? This IS content, and truly one of the original forms. And I (*gasp*) am creating it! Whoa.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been writing for so much of my life that it became the norm. I don’t even notice all I’ve written. At 10 years old, I began keeping a daily journal. 13 years later, I stopped upon meeting Panda, but by then I had been blogging on the side. So then blogging started to take hold until it became the primary way I kept track of my life. I’d share thoughts and experiences and now it’s become a place for my memories. Whenever I want to share something with friends, I can easily do a search of the 2300+ entries on my blog to pull up a post. It’s very much a part of me and an extension of me.

This is what I’ve realized: I am creative. I write blog posts. I am inventive. I constantly think of new topics to share. I am a doer. I built and manage the website for it all.

#proud

Writing confidence

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , ,
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Writing is one of those things that I like to do for myself. No pressure to have a certain tone, no topics I need to stick to. When there are more guidelines, I get stressed and I have very little confidence in what I produce. Just replying to emails at times is a strenuous process that requires a ton of revisions.

Funny enough, I managed to get into marketing and sometimes need to produce content. It’s often emails sent en masse to partners, but also includes landing pages, presentations, and the occasional blog post. It’s the emails I dread most. Week after week, we come up with new topics and I need to create a piece around it. Something that will get the point across yet include all the details we need to share. I breathe a sigh of relief every time this is finally completed and scheduled.

While I’ve gotten better about going ahead with confidence, I still wonder each time I send out my initial draft whether the team will come back wanting to completely rework it. Instead, I’ve found that almost every single time there are minor tweaks, but no major overhauls. I’ve received some nice feedback from these and over time I worry less and less. I just can’t get to the point where I consider myself a great writer. I don’t think I ever have, nor do I think I ever will.

When I write for myself, it doesn’t matter how good or bad I am. All that matters is that I get to express myself the way I choose to. Anything that comes out is me, so there is no wrong. But when I write for others, there is so much room for judgement. For whatever reason, even as I receive praise, I can’t quite accept it. I just feel like a farce. Each success is another slip under the radar. One day I’ll be found out: I’m actually not a very good writer at all.

I began reading Lean In and so far many things have rung true for me. One of the points that Sheryl Sandberg made was that she too felt like a fake. So perhaps it’s the woman in me, the one who has been struck by imposter syndrome and doesn’t feel worthy of being a good writer. I’m trying to overcome that, and luckily I’ve received plenty of positive feedback lately to help me along the way. I was rather surprised when my manager praised my writing style, saying I had a way of writing the way I speak and coming off very friendly and amicable even if delivering bad news.

My manager works remotely so most of our interactions to start were via email. When he first met me in person, he expressed the warmth and cheerfulness he saw in me. I had not really noticed that about myself and oftentimes I still don’t really see it, but I’m glad that’s the impression he gets. All that laboring over email replies must have paid off! So maybe I am a good communicator after all.

Whatever the case, practice brings improvement, so I will have to keep on doing. At work, my manager had asked me what I like and do not like to do. Of course the one thing I said I don’t really like had to be the one thing he decided I should try more. Can you guess? Yup, it was writing. So now he has me managing a few new projects where I need to take control of the content and get it produced by a team I work with. I like working with the team, but putting together the copy to use is such a pain. I do recognize this as a learning and growing experience though, so while I don’t look forward to it, I will still work on it diligently. I may not like how I do it, but I hope that my effort comes through and I end up getting a lot better.

Traffic spike

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,
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I like to check how much traffic my site is getting each day, and WHOA when I checked yesterday, I found that July had ended on an insanely high day for me. I typically get about 150-180 page views a day, with a previous high of 256 or so. Out of nowhere, it shot up to 344 on Thursday!

new record for blog page views in a single day now at 344

Did something break? Did I suddenly show up in search results a whole lot more? Did I do something really good for the traffic? I have no idea. Everything’s back to normal now and I don’t know why there was that influx. Crazy, but awesome. Can I have some repeats? 😛

Refresh

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,
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It’s time for a change again. I decided this morning that I needed to update my blog theme so I could make use of a horizontal menu bar again. While I enjoyed the look of the theme I was using, it wasn’t working the way I want it to anymore. How I manage the blog evolves all the time, and so the look and organization of it gets an overhaul too. The next time I make a change, it’ll probably be to allow dropdown menus, but for now the single menu bar approach will work just fine.

little fat notebook blog with page style wordpress theme

This new look will hopefully make it easier to find my FSOT page and key categories like “how tos” and “reviews.” I also like some of the flourishes, like that super cool tiger image that makes up the comment box and the pretty Japanese kanji sprinkled throughout. I played around with the stylesheet a bit so it’s more customized for me (mainly just made the link color more visible in the post, since it was hard to tell any text was a link before). One of these days I really need to learn CSS so I can be more versatile in my editing. And when I really feel like treating myself, I’m totally getting a custom theme created. One day…

little fat notebook blog with ink and wash wordpress theme

365great Day 365: perseverance

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , , ,
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365great day 364: perseveranceI’m nothing if not stubborn. A year ago, I promised myself I would do this 365great project daily for the next 365 days. And so I’ve kept my eye on the goal, pushing through until now. It’s been quite an experience, constantly looking at the world around me and thinking of what I could highlight. There were days where I couldn’t find a good picture of what I wanted so I pushed it back or skipped it altogether, opting for something else that I could post a picture of. There were days where I had been so busy I barely had time at the end of the day, but I got a post together anyway. It was definitely challenging, but I’m happy to say I completed my project, not a day missing. Of course it wasn’t perfect and sometimes I was *technically* a little bit into the next day, but I always got one done for each day, no matter what was going on. Perseverance is a useful trait that can get you through all kinds of situations and you’ll come out proud of what you accomplished. It’s a great skill to practice, but boy am I glad it’s over.

Now I can soak in the glory of a year’s worth of greatness recognized. I still plan on putting out 365greats, but only periodically as things come up. After all, I think it’s a fabulous way to highlight what I find great. I still have a ton of things I’d like to mention anyway, so I’ll slowly get around to sharing them. Might as well spread the love!

Coming on one year

laelene Posted in 365great, general blog,Tags: ,
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I can hardly believe it’s been nearly a year since I started my 365great project. So much has changed since then that I don’t even recognize my life as it was back then versus how it is now. Did I really manage to fit all that into one year? My priorities have shifted completely and my outlook on life has drastically shifted. It’s been an interesting period of my life and these efforts have taken over my nights for a long time. I’m looking forward to having some more time at night and I wonder how things will change once I finish up the series.

I already have my next idea ready, but I’ve learned from this one that a daily challenge takes up way more time than I’d like, so I’ll try something weekly now. I know Panda is looking forward to having more time with me at night. Will it really free me up that much more? Perhaps. I’ll probably still be thinking about it but now I won’t have the self-imposed pressure to have to put something together every single day. I’ll still be posting my normal blog posts but this sort of themed post will take a backburner. Just 10 more days to go!

365great Day 348: WordPress

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , ,
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365great day 348: wordpressMy absolute favorite blogging platform is WordPress. It’s simple enough for anyone to use, yet extremely powerful for more robust needs. I’ve been maintaining my blog with it for years and the features just keep growing. It’s professional and constantly improving. You can create and manage your own website through their interface, sharing whatever content you please. You can go with WordPress.com if you just want to dabble and don’t need your own domain. Or if you’ve got your own domain, WordPress.org makes it easy to put together a wonderful site. Best of all, it’s all for free! Such great offerings. 🙂

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