12 Must Have Blog Elements Infographic!

12 Must Have Blog Elements Infographic!

Keeping your blog effective and easy to navigate is easier than you think. But, if you don’t know exactly what to include you could find yourself blogging with no one visiting. Here is a quick list of 12 Must Have Blog Elements, put together in a handy-dandy infographic, just for you.

Must Have Blog Elements Infographic

12 Must Have Blog Elements

  1. Logo
  2. Easy to use navigation
  3. Social Links
  4. Search Box
  5. Uncluttered Sidebar That Includes:
    • About Me / The Blog Section
    • Email Me / Contact Area
    • Email Subscription and/or
    • Follow Me Subscription
    • Featured Posts and/or
    • Latest Posts and/or
    • Tags to Promote Posts
  6. Easy to Read Text / Headers
  7. Properly utilized typography with contrast between the text and the blog background
  8. Related Posts
  9. Share This Post Widget
  10. Commenting System without Captcha
  11. Unclutter Footer Area with non-priority info
  12. Behind the Scenes Tools – Security, SEO & Analytics
Ten Tips on Copyright – What YOU Need to Know

Ten Tips on Copyright – What YOU Need to Know

Today we are talking about Copyright. I know we talk about Copyright a lot – but it just seems like no one gets it. NO ONE. Not even presidential candidates. I had this post written up (starting with the Copyright image) but thought I would share this bit of news, so you guys know that EVERYONE struggles with copyright law. In the news, this week was a startling story that pertained oddly to my Blogging 101 planned post. Sen. Rand Paul, currently running for President of the United States is in trouble with Ray-Ban sunglasses. {source}

Rand Brand on Ray-Bans

Image from https://store.randpaul.com

Ray-Ban, like most companies, copyrights their product, specifically their Wayfarer sunglasses. But, for some reason, Rand Paul decided (or his genius campaign manager) to put his “Rand” logo on it and sell them on his website. Without getting permission from Ray-Ban. Not a good idea, Rand.  He could have worn them, he could have handed them out to his staffers as presents. But he had them up for sale on his website. Dumb. As a Libertarian, politically I would probably be behind the dude, but I give no credit to this dumb error of judgement. And it shows that even people with a Baylor/Duke education can still screw up copyright.

More importantly though was the comments that popped up when this news came up. Of course most were politically charged, since the 2016 campaign is going to be a bag of mess…but most comments thought that Ray-Ban was politically motivated and not just flexing their copyright muscle. That people had the right to “pop their logo” on anything they want and sell it. Obviously the unwashed masses have about as much copyright knowledge as the rest of us. Including Rand Paul’s campaign team.

So, here you go, Rand…next time you want to “pop” your logo on something, maybe think about copyright law.

Ten Tips on Copyright for Bloggers

Ten Tips on Copyright…

1. Fair Use

“Fair Use” is ONLY when you are commenting on a product. For example, the image of Rand Paul above. I am not saying that Rand Paul is behind Parajunkee.com and this article. I am commenting on his trouble with Ray-Ban, constituting my “fair use” of his image. If I were to put up a post that had him backing a product I was selling, then I would get in trouble for copyright. Putting a book cover on your site in regard to a book review is considered “fair use.”

2. No Profit From What is Not Yours

If you are making money off of something, even if that money is selling advertisements on your blog, you better make sure that you own copyrights or have permission for use. Be careful of how you are claiming “Fair use” if money becomes involved.

3. Credit the Source

Just because you “credit” the source does not mean you are within your rights to post it.

4. Copyright Notice

Copyright Laws state that you are not required to post a copyright notice to protect your things. So, if you don’t see a copyright notice, it’s still protected under copyright. EVERY published work, paper, digital – is automatically protected under copyright.

5. Cease and Desist

The moment a copyright holder asks you to remove their work, you are obligated to remove it. Even if you think that you are within rights to post it or use it. If you refuse to remove it they have the right to report you to your internet host, blog service provider or any affiliations you hold. Further action would be to file a lawsuit against you.

6. The Video

Videos. Just because it’s on YouTube or Vimeo does not mean it is legal. Clips of television shows or movies are never legal and will be removed when the studios find them and report them. They don’t aggressively police short clips, but music vids and unlicensed content can be considered copyright violations. Usually, it results in just a removal from YouTube. But, if you embed that video into your blog, once removed it will show a big black box of copyright violation instead of the vid. You don’t want that on your blog.

7. Creative Commons

Creative Commons can be confusing. But, it is a way for a content creator to share their work with you, but there might be some liabilities. It is a not a free for all most of the time. Sometimes they have restrictions on their uses. Read the fine print. Some require credit to the author, some require a notification and others throw it out there. It is YOUR job as the user to figure out what that usage is.

8. Changing Copyrighted Materials

Changing the copyrighted material by adding your logo, or something else to it does NOT make you the rightful owner. If I stole your bike and slapped MY sticker on it, does that make it rightfully mine? That’s my sticker. No. You are still a thief. Don’t grab a background image or someone’s button and put your own words on it and claim that is now YOURS. Get permission. This includes meme badges, and content that you purchased from a designer in the past.

9. Can’t Find the Copyright Holder

If you can’t find who the image belongs to, does not give you the right to use it. It is up to you as the user to track down the copyright holder.

10. Non-Commercial

Finally, if you are a “non-profit,” political candidate, or non-commercial entity, none of those reasons give you a right to use a copyrighted product or image without permission. Just because you are not profiting off of the product or image does not make you less liable. Sure, you might only get a “take-down” letter…but the copyright holder still has the right to pursue legal actions.

Ten Ways to Increase Your Blog Following

Ten Ways to Increase Your Blog Following

Do you want more blog interaction & followers?

What am I talking about — everyone wants more followers on their blog! It is nothing new, you can find posts upon posts on how to do this.  There are some tried and true methods, but there are some that are going to be unique to your blog and our niche. You have to understand your target market and where they are hiding. Then you have to target those readers and offer them quality content to lure them in. It is not an easy task…but I think you might be up for it.

Blog Every Day

Promote & Interact on Social Media

When I see that a blogger or author is not on twitter, I get a bit frustrated. Get on Twitter, get on Facebook and start making friends! Why aren’t you doing this? Then get on Digg, Stumbleupon, Booklikes, Google+, Tumblr…the list goes on…and share your content. Extend your reach. Interact with your followers. Share fun content, not just your blog post, stupid blooper vids, funny gifs, cat memes. Anything that will get a like, retweet or comment.

Go Forth & Comment

Go out there and comment on other people’s blogs. It’s not all about you! Leave your url in the name area (not a Follow me please url) not the comment area, to increase your search engine optimization and also allow the blog owner to visit back. Make sure your comment is thoughtful and relevant and it starts or adds to a conversation.

Quality Content

Make sure you post ORIGINAL, frequent/consistent content. Google is putting more emphasis on “different” and “quality.” They want to return useful information in their search queries, instead of keyword saturated posts. If you post frequent/consistent, on topic content, you’ll attract readers looking for that type of information. Make sure you always state your opinion and post from your heart, not what you think other people want to hear. If you are just delivering regurgitated promotional copy, you might find yourself without an audience. Readers and Google will not want to be on your site if they see the same information on numerous other outlets.

Link It Up

A good way to build community relations is by linking to other blogs in your posts. Most blogging software has trackback links and this is like giving another blog a compliment.

Forums

There are always forums for whatever niche you find yourself blogging within. Participate in those forums, comment on threads, start your own and always include your URL in your signature. It’s a great way to meet new bloggers and find out information about your blogging niche.

Email Signature

Speaking of signatures, you should also have an email signature with your blog URL. Every email you send out should have your url at the end of it. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just your url.

Guest Post

Another great way to drive traffic your way is to make an appearance on another blog. Offer to review a book for another book blogger, or write a top ten list. Anything. The best way to gain more exposure is to target high ranking blogs than your own, but any exposure helps, even it if it on peer blogs.

Contests

Host a contest. This is a great way to drive traffic, especially if it is a good prize.

Share it

Make sure you include share links on your blog. Those fancy little twitter, Facebook, pocket links at the bottom of posts. This way when you do get a reader they can easily share the post if they like it.

Get Creative

It is your blog and your potential readers, you need to get creative. Think of ideas that will bring in more traffic, events and contest that are original and uniquely yours. You can also publicize your blog in original way. Don’t just use the old standards. Try new things like using Instagram, Vine Videos, audio clips and YouTube to promote your blog posts. Anything is game. If it hasn’t been done before, maybe you’ll start a trend.

 

Six Ways To Tell You’re a Book Hoarder

Six Ways To Tell You’re a Book Hoarder

Tsundoku

There is actually a Japanese word for people that buy books and don’t read them. 

How to Tell You Are a Tsundoku or “Book Hoarder”

1. You have more than 50 books on your TBR pile but continue to buy books

A compulsive need to buy books could be a sign that you have a problem. I cited 50 books, but really if you have a stack of books you have to read, but you are still walking out of the bookstore or library with another stack…well admit it. YOU ARE A BOOK HOARDER.

2. Unusual Attachment to Your Books

I’m going to come to your house and take a couple stacks of books? You can’t decide which ones I’m going to take. How do you feel about that?? Do you have an unnatural attachment to your books? If you answered “yes” YOU ARE A BOOK HOARDER.

3. The Main Focus Object(s) in Your House Are Books

How many bookshelves do you have? How prominently are your books displayed? Are books the first thing people see when they come to visit? Are there books in every room of your house? If you answered “yes” YOU ARE A BOOK HOARDER.

4. You Can’t Part with a Book

Your friend wants to borrow a book. Do you lend it to her? Or do you not want her to touch it because she might bend the spine? Dog-ear the pages? Your reticence to lending out that book might be a sign that you are a book hoarder.

5. Any Available Shelf/Desk/Table Space is Covered in Books

How many books do you have on your nightstand? How man are on your coffee table? Check that table next to the sofa? Is it covered in books? Do you have books on chairs, books on sofas? Books in your bed – or spare bed? If you answered “yes” YOU ARE A BOOK HOARDER.

6. You Are Broke Because of Books

You spend every available dime on books. Who needs anything else, right? YOU ARE A BOOK HOARDER.

book hoarder

How to Grade Your Blog & Measure Your Impact #BB101

How to Grade Your Blog & Measure Your Impact #BB101

As a human we love to scale and rate things. How do you rate your pain? How do you rate your love life? How do you rate that hot guy walking down the street? Definitive scales of awesome or awful are just a part of life. It starts at a young age when you get that test back with your first A or your first F. Letter grades and numerical scales rule our freakin’ lives.  Personality tests, management tests, mental stability tests with little numbers and letters floating all around. And of course the big one, the IQ test – to tell you how big of a brain you have compared to the other idiots out there…

What the hell does this have to do with you and your blogging endeavors?

Well, the same thing can be applied to our websites, blogs and social media effectiveness. They have graders and measurements all to judge your effectiveness as a Website Mogul. Basically how to Grade Your Blog.  You just have to learn how to use them. Now, we know that it’s not just about the number of likes or followers. It’s about the reach. You could have 10K followers on twitter and very little impact if all of those followers could care less about what you tweet, post or blog about.

Rules of Engagement. What should we look for?

pageviews on your blogPageviews – The number one way to measure your blog always comes back to pageviews. How many people are actually coming to your site? Yet, with email subscriptions and Readers delivering your words in tons of different directions, pageviews are not always the end all. If you have a large amount of email subscribers you could just be seeing half of the actual traffic. When my email subscriptions went up my pageviews dropped.  Yet, when I decided to advertise, pageviews count. Because your advertising will most likely be on your sidebar or at the top of your posts. The email subscribers won’t be seeing your advertisements. Yet, how do we measure this? What quantifiable numbers do we put on our blogging goals? There are a few ways to judge our blogs…so let’s give it a shot here. These measurements are for our niche group as book bloggers. There is always room for improvement, even for the blogs that we consider the leaders in our niche. A pageview count can mean the difference between charging an advertiser $5 a day to $50 a day. If you want to get an idea of what people charge, take a look at blogads large blogs like Modern Baby & Perez Hilton who use blogads and their rates are staggering. But then we are talking about 30K pageviews a day instead of a month. I don’t know if any of our niche group even comes close to this. Unfortunately books aren’t as sexy as celeb gossip.

How to judge your blogThe Start-Up – The Sky is the Limit Blogger
(600+ pageviews a month, about 20 a day)

  1. This blog is just getting started
  2. This blog has just hit the six month mark of blog prosperity*
  3. A continually growing list of followers
  4. Active blogger (5 posts a week)
  5. Blogger could technically do advertising, but the impact would be low. It is recommended that you don’t charge advertisers more than $20 a month

breakoutThe Break-Out Blog – The I’m Just About There Blogger
(3K+ pageviews a month, about 100 a day)

  1. Other people in the industry know this blogger
  2. This blog has been in operation for over a year
  3. This blog’s followers continue to grow
  4. Active blogger and Guest Blogger, probably interviewed, quoted and Guest Blogs on other sites regularly
  5. Blogger can now reliably get advertisers
  6. Rates of advertising should stay below $100 a month, recommended about $2-$3 a day

Trend SetterThe Trend Setter Blog – Am I There Yet Blogger?
(15K+ pageviews a month, about 500 a day)

  1. This blog has been recognized by its peers and industry professionals as a Top Blog
  2. This blog has been in operation for 2+ years
  3. This blog’s followers continue to grow by substantial rates
  4. The blog has very active social media promotions in different outlets
  5. Very Active blogger, Guest Blogger, could even had interviews and posts on substantial media outlets outside of their niche group
  6. Blogger should be advertising
  7. Rates of advertising should be about $100 a month, recommended about $3-$4 a day

PinnacleThe Pinnacle Blog – Is this What the Top Looks like?
(50K+ pageviews a month, about 1700 a day)

  1. There will only be a few that reach this status
  2. This blog has been in operation for a considerable amount of time. It usually takes years to reach this status and consistently keep the traffic coming
  3. This blog will be recognized throughout the niche group as a leader
  4. This blog’s followers continue to grow by substantial rates
  5. This blog has very active social media promotions in different outlets
  6. Very Active blogger, Guest Blogger, even has had interviews and posts on substantial media outlets outside of their niche group
  7. Consistently quoted, linked back to and recognized throughout the community
  8. Blogger should be advertising
  9. Rates of advertising can range from $10 – $25 a day depending on pageviews

Google Pagerank checkerThe Google PageRank

 

The Google PageRank is the most recognized of the “Google Algorithm” parts  in SEO circles. But, most SEO gurus think that the PR is usually not updated regularly enough to be a major factor within the algorithm that Google uses to drive search results.

You gain PageRank by being “popular”. Basically having other blogs and sites link back. If you get a link back from bigger and bigger sites, your pagerank increases. It’s all about who you know 😉 What is yours? Check here.

Grade your blog

Grade it how?

 

Like anything else, there are always sites out there to make judgements for you. Just like the Google Pagerank, there are other companies that can put numbers on your site and tell you if you are doing a good job.

Alexa.com is one of them. They rank your site based on pageviews, sites linking in and other fun analytics. They are considered the top in their class, but– some claim that is generally garnered form people that use their tool bar only. Alexa claims this in only one way they gather information. They also use “other traffic sources.”

Besides Alexa there are a ton of sites that will grade, number and analyze your sites. Sites like SiteScore and Hubspot’s Marketing grader (which replaced their website grader). I personally like HubSpot’s Marketing Grader best because it gives you a run down on how you rock. This is how I found out I was on USA Today’s Book Section blogroll. Freaked out there, heard me?  And that a silly comment on People of Walmart is ranking me also higher in their estimation.

Parajunkee, Urban Fantasy, Blogger Tips

All of these numbers and letters will give you something to think on. I put most of my stock in pageviews right now, but once I reach my numbered goal consistently I’ll move on to focusing more intensely on SEO. It’s all a big process. There are steps I take with everything, but I find that to focus on everything at once will lead to a big slump in general, or a burn-out. It’s all about what you want to accomplish with your blog. You set your limits, you set your own goals. If you are okay with being somewhere in the middle, stick to it. If you want to reach for the stars and be THAT BLOGGER there are tons of ways of accomplishing it. Good luck.

Let me know what goals you’ve set for yourself.

*six months is considered by some to be the first milestone in blogging. Once you’ve reached six months vendors, publishers and potential advertisers gauge that you are ready to hang with the big dogs.

Don’t Be an Evil Content Thief – Stop Stealing Images!

Don’t Be an Evil Content Thief – Stop Stealing Images!

Copyright, Images

Using images from the internet that you do not have permission to use, means you are stealing content.

Do you know what breaks my heart? When I get an email from one of my design clients and they tell me that they saw an image I created for them, on another blog. Half the time, the fool that stole the image doesn’t even host it on their blogs.  They hotlink it from the blog they stole it from.  So, it is a double theft.  Theft of an image THEY paid for and theft of bandwidth. You notice that keyword in this paragraph? Theft. It is theft. The blogger paid for the image. This person took it without asking and used it. Theft.

The sad part of this story is that most of the time when contacted by me or my client, the thief has no clue that what they did was wrong. Usually, they justify their theft with “it’s just a digital file.” Basically, the same way people who engage in piracy justify it. It’s easy to right click and grab an image. It’s just a font banner…it’s just a graphic promoting a book that WE all love. Why is that wrong? But, it is. It’s copyrighted material.

Issues of image theft have increased over the years, especially now with Google Image search. Users don’t even have to see what blog or website the image is coming from. All they have to do is type something like “Blog Tour” into the search engine and voila — tons and tons of images. Users see the ones they like, click View Image and download it. So easy to take and use it on their blog. No big deal. Google wouldn’t have an image search if they didn’t want us to use the images, right? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Don't right click


Pictures are Just Like Words. They are covered by the same copyright laws.

Things to keep in mind when using an image on your blog:

  1. Taking artwork from another blog or website and placing it on your blog is a copyright violation. You can be subject to fines, legal repercussions, and your blog being shut down because of DMCA laws. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is used in force, especially by large internet companies and CMS software companies. If you are on Blogger, one email to Google can shut down your blog for good, especially if the person you “borrowed” from has proof. Is that image worth it?
  2. Giving “credit” on the image does not give you the legal right to post it.
  3. You can only use an image on your blog if the owner of the image gives a “free to use” disclaimer with the image or images.
  4. Free to use images sometimes also come with restrictions, like “give credit”, “link back” or only usable on a certain type of site, pay attention to the restrictions.
  5. Grabbing an image online and then changing the coloring, adding text or cropping does not constitute ownership, you are still in copyright violation. In fact, changing an image or adding text can be in violation of a “free to use” image.
  6. If you can’t find the owner of an image, or see a copyright this does not put it in the public domain. You can not claim ignorance on copyright by giving the excuse, “I couldn’t find the owner” or “I didn’t know.”  Ignorance is not a viable excuse. You can’t steal a six-pack of beer from the corner store and stand before the judge saying “I didn’t see the owner, it was just sitting there” and expect him to let you off. Same applies for copyright.
  7. The moment someone takes a photograph or creates a work of art copyright protection is attached to that piece even if they don’t file with the Copyright Office. They own the rights to reproduce, display, distribute etc. They have to give PERMISSION or relinquish copyright in order for the photograph/art to be displayed or reproduced. They or their legal representative are the only ones that can give permission.
    • This is why when dealing with a designer, artist or photographer, even if you pay for commissioned work, you must get permission to reproduce their work. Bought a beautiful photograph that you are using for the cover image of your book? If the artist gave you permission for an eBook, if you want to get them printed and distributed – guess what? You have to go back and ask permission. Even if you purchased stock photography it has limits on their distribution. Some stock photography can only be used on certain things and there are limits to the amount of time it can be printed. So, if you are running off 500,000 copies of your book, you would have to buy an extended license.
    • You also have NO RIGHT to take an image you had created by a designer and have “another” designer change it. You must get permission from the original designer to release those files. By passing on that image to a new designer you can get yourself and the new designer in trouble. This is why I always ask a client where they got their artwork. If they say it’s from another designer, we have to stop and get the permission of that artist.
  8. You can contact the photographer/designer/artist and ask permission to display their work. If they do not reply, you still do not have permission to use their work.

To summarize, there is a lot of confusion about online images and what we can and can’t do. People tote phrases like “Fair Use” especially when books are involved. You do have the right to post a book cover, so why not images or art? There are very definitive rules about artwork and photography and what defines fair use.  “Fair Use” is a term used for commentary on an item. A review. Using an image to “spice up” your post is not a commentary.  You also have to remember those definitive laws have serious consequences. There are tons of online FREE stock photography sites that you can download images for days, get off other people’s blogs and go there. They have some nice photography too. Sites like deviantart.com have wonderful art that gives “free use” in the credits. Just make sure to check because those usually require links and credit.

Just remember you shouldn’t be scared of using images, just keep in mind where they are coming from, instead of just willy-nilly right-clicking. And — if you find yourself on someone’s blog and see a banner, button or some kind of design that you really like…don’t do it. They probably spent time designing it themselves or hired someone to design it for them. You have no right to use it…if you are that tempted, email the blogger and see if they’ll let you use it. Who knows, you might be surprised by their answer.

Images are posessions

Have you found your image on another person’s website?

What do you do? Here are some tips:

  1. Contact the blogger and TELL them that they have to remove the image.
  2. If no response or a negative response is given, contact their ISP/Host and file a DMCA complaint (it should stop here)
  3. Still up and running? You don’t want to give up. Copyright your image or artwork, by filing with the copyright office.
  4. Hire a lawyer and have them send a Cease & Desist letter.
  5. Take civil legal actions, especially if they are profiting from the use of this image.

don't stealALL

Page 1 of 5612345... »102030... »Last »

Pin It on Pinterest