Friday, May 27, 2011

If You Have a Blog . . .

. . . there are three things that I think you need to know about:  Statcounter, Windows Live Writer, and Blurb

Statcounter (which has a free option that I use) is important because (1) you know how many blog hits you have, which is just cool, and (2) you can keep up with who visits your blog.  I can even tell from what city your visitors are logging on, their IP addresses, their internet providers, what websites were used to find my blog, and what websites my visitors leave my blog to visit.  I really like that I know “who” is reading our blog, especially if I get some weird (or rude) comments. 

And then you have Windows Live Writer.  This is FREE software that you download.  You can draft your blog posts offline with this software.  The most amazing part of it is that you can make your photos much larger than Blogger generally allows without a special HTML code.  When you upload your photos, if you choose, you can automatically watermark your photos.  Also, uploading photos takes a fraction of the time that it takes on Blogger and your photos are automatically resized for the web, which makes your photos look better.  This is a serious timesaver and really changed the way I blog.  Since I learned about Windows Live Writer from Krystyn of Krizzy Designs (who designed my blog), I’ve almost exclusively used it for blog posting. 

Blurb is important so that you can put your blog down on paper.  Or a nice image-wrapped hardbound book. . . .

DSC_0248 W DSC_0254 W DSC_0265 WBlurb has amazingly user-friendly software, and an extremely high quality end product.  I downloaded the Blurb software, and used it to pull in the blog posts I selected (I did a blog book for 2008, one for the first half of 2009, one for the second half of 2009, and one for 2010).  Then I rearranged the posts and photos.  This did take a lot of time, but it was not difficult by any means.  I started my first blog book in mid-February and finished them less than 2 months later, so it wasn’t that bad.  Then I uploaded my books and a week later I had them in print. 

DSC_0260 W DSC_0263 W The blog seems so much more real in print. 

In 2010, I made 79 blog posts and uploaded almost 1,000 photos on the blog.  In 2009, I made 132 blog posts and uploaded almost as many photos as in 2010.  I love the digital age, and I love how easy it is to share and publish online.  However, there is something about being able to hold it all in your hand.  It definitely gives me yet another reason to continue blogging regularly.  I hope that one day our kids will be my age and read about their childhood from my point of view, and hopefully appreciate this documentation of their early lives. 

After that, I had to twist Gary’s arm but he eventually agreed to let me make and order a blog book of his blog. 

DSC_0969 W DSC_0970 WThe next documentation project is actually putting all those photos I’ve printed from 2008, 2009, and 2010 into albums.  That may take a while, but I’ll get caught up and hopefully stay caught up! 

One more thing that you should do if you have a blog is BACK UP your blog.  There are a couple of ways to do this.  One is to use BlogBooker to do it, which is something I found while I was looking for a way to make a blog book.  With this method, you just create a pdf book.  You can also print the pdf book, but I far preferred the customization available with Blurb.  Another way to back-up is recommended by Rita with Coffee Shop here.  I use BOTH. 

If you have a blog, I hope this helped.  And if you have any tips for me, I’d love to hear them! 

19 comments:

Lindsey Wolfe said...

I want to do the Blurb books so bad! Do they ever offer coupons and such? I started to do one earlier this year, but got so overwhelmed! I think I need to break them up into years like you did! Great idea!

Heather said...

Hey, Lindsey! Yes, they do have coupons! The best I've seen is 25% off your order -- I just google and see what I find and am on the e-mail mailing list to get them. I learned (after the fact) that the 8.5"x11" books are really a lot cheaper than the larger ones, but then I like the larger ones better. The latest software has an option to downsize some of the books, which would be great to print a "cheaper" copy, too.

Tina Michelle said...

Thanks for the advice!

Amber said...

Great ideas! Thanks so much. I don't use any of these resources! Where have I been?!?!? haha

Janine said...

ECXELLENT!!! Thank you for letting us know! :)

Arlene @At Home with the Grimms said...

Wish I were not so technologically challenged. I tried to do the tracker thing and could not get it installed. I think it would be so much fun to know how many people look at my blog. I really enjoy reading about our sweet little ones. My friend, Susan Graben, told me that I had to check you out. I taught preschool for years and love hearing all about the cute things little ones do. Thanks for sharing!!

Arlene @At Home with the Grimms said...

Heather...I got Stat Counter installed!!yippee.All I can see if how many hits I have and first time visitors. How can you tell where the hits are coming from?

Michelle Carney said...

Can you print the comments on Blurb yet? I really wanted the girls to see the family's comments and I could only get that on Blog2Print books- which I love. Just curious if you found a way to do it on Blurb.

Heather said...

Yay, Arlene!! All you have to do is log in to Statcounter and choose your project. Then there are tabs on the left and you can choose what you want to see. It is really cool!! Please tell Susan I said hello! :)

Michelle, it won't slurp in the comments but you can hand copy them. Big pain, but that is the only way I know to do it (a friend of mine actually did her whole book by copy and paste). Maybe that is a feature they will add soon!

Michelle Carney said...

Ok- three hours later I am back to thank you for mentioning the Windows Live Writer. It takes me soooo long to post pictures which is why I stay three months behind. Of course with my luck that program is not available for Macs so I have now tried 4 similar programs that are and I think I finally found one that works similar to what you described- MarsEdit. Not great but so much better. For once Windows did something better than Mac :) thanks!

Heather said...

That is great Michelle!! I'm so glad that it helps! The first time I used Windows Live Writer I could not believe how easy it was to make a blog post. I had no idea it could be that easy!

Heather said...

Michelle, I just though of something. As I mentioned, WLW resizes photos -- which I like because they look better on the blog. BUT, sometimes that means they are too small to print in a blog book. With Blurb that is not a big deal because I can just drop in the original photo from my computer (well, it takes time but is not a huge problem and I mark the photos so I can find them easily when I make my books). I don't know if you have that option with your bookmaking software. Just wanted to mention it before you do a bookfull of posts and end up with poorer quality photos. To me it is worth it to spend a little more time on the final product rather than day-by-day, but then it may not be for you.

Arlene @At Home with the Grimms said...

Thanks Heather!! I got it! And I will have to check out the other site you mentioned regarding the pictures. Maybe you should teach at blogging class...I am sure you have lots of extra time to do that!lol....

Arlene @At Home with the Grimms said...

Came back to write down the other sites you mentioned. Would love to make books of my blog....thanks again for your input!

Lora G said...

Love the advice! I'll def check out livewriter. This may be obvious to yall but I LOVE using google reader to read all my blog favs too!

Jamie said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! i had no idea about the live writer program AND it always bugged me that my pics were so small. I just did my first post with the program and it was GREAT.

I have done blurb and I do like it (even tho it does take a decent amount of time and I haven't done anything past 2008).

Anyhow, THANK YOU!!!

Jamie said...

oh- forgot to mention that I would rather go for google analytics than stat counter but that's probably based on personal preference and my nerdiness with numbers and such :) I do wish there was more detail you could get about rss readers, too.

Jamie said...

shoot. just read your other comment about the WLW photos being poorer quality. hmmmmmm....

Heather said...

Jamie -- remember that your photos are going to look better onthe blog because they are "smaller" and have less pixels or whatever to be squished together on the screen. the computer can only show so much and more than that makes the photo look less clear. BUT if you plan to use Blurb or print your book you will have to replace those photos. It is easy, especially if you can easily find the photos. You can create a folder for the ones you use on your blog now, and make them even easier to find -- but that is an extra step. Good luck!