Saturday, August 15, 2009

How Difficult Is It For People To Contact You?

by Lucia Kaiser, Royal Blog Tour President
That's her in red amidst her husband and four children

Today, I followed a link to a blog that contained the most beautiful cards and great tutorials. "Wow", I thought, "I want to keep up with this blog." So I began to search the blog for contact and subscription information. Down I scrolled past all the beautiful cards, the informative instructions, and now I'm getting more excited about subscribing. Where oh where is the subscription information? Finally, at the bottom of the page in light, barely discernible, tiny letters are the words "Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)". Not only were the words tiny and at the very bottom of the page, they almost disappeared into the background color of the page.

Where Is Your Subscription and Contact Information?

Now, if you want your blog to be your own private spot to store your creations, then this type of subscription notice will work great for you because no one will ever subscribe to your blog! I wanted to subscribe, and I finally stopped trying because I couldn't spend anymore time figuring out how to do so!

So what's the lesson here? Where is your subscription and contact information on your blog? Do your viewers think your blog is a WOW? If they do, they'll want to follow you. When people follow you, it enhances your online profile. Make it easy for them by making subscription and contact information readily apparent. When viewing a page, people's eyes are naturally first drawn to the top left and bottom right. Put your subscription contact in the top left sidebar of your blog. This was a problem for the blog I was viewing because she only had a two-column blog. The first thing I would recommend to her is to change to a three-column blog. Julie Semones article on "Why a Blog" gives a link for instructions on how to do this. Be sure to read this article, which has been posted on this blog.

Do People Know Where You Live?

Today, people worry (and with good reason) about maintaining and securing information on the Internet. There was a classic exchange on the TV show "Frasier" that still makes me laugh out loud when I remember it.

Frasier and Niles Crane decided to open an exclusive restaurant. As their practical-minded father listened, the sometimes officious-sounding brothers started brainstorming:

Frasier: "We'll call it Frères Crain"

Niles: "Our phone number will be unlisted"

Frasier: "You have to have an invitation to dine there"

The conversation goes on with more ridiculous ideas about how to make the restaurant exclusive until their father finally chimes in (and this is where I ROFL)

Martin: "Maybe you can have snipers on the roof to shoot them as they come in!"

My point is, if you want your blog to attract new customers and recruits, people have to know the area where you live. Check out the left sidebar of my blog It tells people I'm located on Cape Cod. It gives them my email address AND my phone number. Sure, you'll find that information on my banner, but remember, people's eyes are drawn to the top left and bottom right of a page - not up to the top of a banner! In fact, that banner probably only gets a cursory look if it has a pleasing design. Very few people will look beyond all my scrolls and flowers to seek out my information. Even I sometimes forget it's there! To see other examples of good placement, look at Mary Fish's blog at and notice the placement of contact information on her site.

Tell people where you live!

You don't have to give them your street address or the combination to your safe deposit box. Just give them the general area where you operate your business. "My business is located in the San Francisco area", or "Find me on Florida's West Coast in the town of Venice."

Tell people your name!

There is nothing more frustrating to me personally as when I get a request to join the Blog Tour group, and all I find is an email address! Are you in the witness protection program? If you are unwilling to give out your first and last name, you shouldn't be in business. If you're that afraid of giving out your name, than use a pseudonym, an alias, a nom de plume, an AKA, but don't act as though your name is on a Wanted Poster!

Give them your phone number and email address:

I have what I call my "Craft Room" phone number. It is a second line in my home that I use for business. My home phone number is unlisted, and I don't give it out. I have more than one business and this line is something I've had for many years. If you don't want the expense of a second line, you can get something called "Ring Mate" which is a second number for your phone line. It isn't very expensive, and it is a good alternative to having a business line. It has a different ring than your primary line. You can give out this number instead of your home phone number. You can even list this number in the phone book and keep the other number unlisted.

I hope this article will be of value to you, and you'll find people contacting you and following your blog with these few, simple suggestions.

Why a Blog??

Julie Semones
Web, Blog and Banner Designer
Computer Tech for the Royal Blog Tour

I’m sure you’ve asked yourself the above question many times. I hope that in this article, I’ll be able to answer the question, and give you more information than you’ve ever wanted to know about blogs…no geek speak*, all simple English!

Is a blog better than a website? Is a blog better than Facebook? Is a blog better than Twitter? Personally speaking I would have to say yes to all three. While a blog can use a domain name and become your website, you are more apt to update it daily; with a website you’d probably do the initial design, add a few items and forget it. Facebook is definitely a networking outlet. For myself, I have found many old friends and new customers; however, I don’t advertise of a lot my business this way. Twitter is VERY limiting, since you can only enter 140 characters. I mean, seriously, how much can you really say with 140 characters?

Which blog is better to use? I am not going to say that one is better than the other; they all have their own pros and cons. The top three blog programs are, Google’s Blogger, Wordpress (free or self hosted version), and Typepad (free or paid version). On all three, you can have your own domain name for your blog address. Blogger unfortunately, is a little more difficult to change, you need to be able to have access to your CNAME** through a hosting company; and so far, I have not been able to find one that can do that. I know they are out there, I’ve just not seen them. Wordpress can be free when hosted through a web hosting company if it is provided software. You can also get a free blog through Wordpress, but your blog address would appear like: . You can add a domain name to your free Wordpress account, but it will cost you around $25 per year to do that. Typepad is the third of the blogging programs. Unfortunately, this is the blogging outlet that I don’t know much about. I know they have different pricing structures, and depending on those prices, the software will allow you to either have just a basic blog, or you can design one yourself to fit your needs.

Blogger has a pretty decent template selection. The most customizable template is Minima. If you search the net, you will find that there are tutorials that will allow you to change your 2 column blog to 3 columns, giving you 2 sidebars and the main section for posting. (The blog that gives the tutorial is

Wordpress, whether it is the free version or the self hosted version, allows you to download new templates through their website Uploading the templates and installing them is very easy. In the free version of Wordpress, the dashboard will give you statistics of your blog, and the ability to approve/disapprove/mark as spam comments that are left. There are charges for upgrading specific elements of this Wordpress, such as custom CSS***, adding more space to your blog, (you can add an addition 5Gig to 25Gig of space), removal of advertising, and the ability to have videos on your blog. Each of the upgrades is charged yearly via PayPal.

Self Hosted Wordpress is much more customizable. You can change your CSS, giving you custom colors, header, and more. You can have new templates designed for you and uploaded through the dashboard. There are add-ons that can be added to give you more options to add to your blog.

Let’s look at the gadgets/widgets that are used within the blog software. Blogger has a lot of different gadgets that are basics such as “HTML/Java“, “Followers“, “Search Box“, “Text“, “Picture“, “Slideshow“, and more…there are other more popular gadgets, such as “Recent Comments“, “Blogger Play“ (real-time slideshows), “YouTube gadget“, or a “Count Down“ to your special event. To use any of these gadgets, you simply need to click the “Add a Gadget“ button and a separate window will open, displaying the different Gadgets. When you find one you like, click the + sign next to the title, then another window will open; you can then add text or whatever needs to be done to make the gadget work on your blog. Click the save button, and you’re done.

In Wordpress (any version), if you click on the “dashboard“, then “appearance“, you’ll see your widget section. If you click that button, you will see the available widgets. Self Hosted Wordpress blogs will have fewer widgets downloaded; however, you can find and install widgets from the website.

Again, Typepad is foreign to me, so I won’t comment here on what is or isn’t available. Information about Typepad will be in another article written by one of our Computer Techs familiar with this program.

Once you’ve determined which blogging software you’re going to use, you need to figure out if you are going to use just the “canned” templates that come with the blog you’ve chosen, or if you are going to seek out someone to design it for you. There are many designers out there, and most offer very reasonable rates. Several also offer a discount to Stampin’ Up! Demonstrators, so be sure to ask! As a web/blog/banner designer myself, I am one of those who offer a full range of blog services.

After you decide on the design of your blog, you need to decide what you’re going to put into your blog. For most of us, we’re using it in addition to our DBWS. You will want to include information for your customers, such as upcoming specials, current catalogs/minis, or class schedules. Many demonstrators will use their blog to showcase cards they’ve made in challenges, or they’ll use the blog for a blog tour, such as the Royal Blog Tour that just took place. We use blogs as a tool to draw more people to the world of card making/scrapbooking. Potential customers can found through your blog if you advertise correctly. There are many ways of doing that, but the easiest is to add a link to the signature in your email. Think of the number of people you send emails to on a daily basis. The emails you send COULD be going to perspective customers or even recruits. And don’t forget to clearly show your contact information on your blog. You can draw people to your blog in a variety of ways, but if they can’t find your contact information, it will all be for nothing!

In the end, how you start a blog, what design you choose, and how you maintain your blog is totally up to you. Just remember, for a blog to work and work well, you should try to upload/post something new every day. Add a counter to you blog so you can see how many visitors you are getting. Be sure to send notes to the people who have left comments on your blog. Again, you never know if that person commenting is a perspective customer or not.

I hope this article has helped sort out the blog world for you. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me ( Better yet, ask your questions on the SU Blog Tour Group message board, and then everyone can benefit from the answers!
*Note from Lucia: These geeks don’t even know when they’re speaking geek! LOL! I asked Julie for definitions of some the words in this article. Here is her response:
“I said no Geek Speak, but here goes” J

**A CNAME record or Canonical Name record is a type of resource record in the Domain Name System (DNS) that specifies that the domain name is an alias of another, canonical domain name.

***CSS is cascading style sheet