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Project Management for Bloggers

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Photo credit: ti lapin tom under CC license

Bloggers need to accomplish projects from time to time. The problem is most of us just dive in with little thought to the process and an unclear understanding of what we’ll be doing. A project is a series of tasks that has a start date, an end date, and which produces a unique output. I’ve taught project management for several years, now. Although much of project management is overkill for a small blog, we can borrow quite a bit from it to help us tackle some of the bigger objectives we need to accomplish. Writing posts and responding to comments isn’t a project, it’s everyday work on a blog. But starting a new blog or designing a new WordPress theme is a project. Switching from Blogger to WordPress is a project.

The Stages of a Project

Projects are generally divided into four phases or stages:

  1. Initiation
  2. Planning
  3. Implementation
  4. Close-out

Let’s describe each stage briefly and what happens in it.

Stage One: Initiation

The initiation stage is the conceptual stage. This is where we figure out the most basic, important aspects of our project, such as its purpose and objectives. For a blogger wanting to start a blog or take an existing blog to the next level, the initiation phase might consist of the following:

  • Defining the problem the project will solve
  • Defining the purpose of the project
  • Defining the major objectives that need to be accomplished for the project to complete
  • Setting a finish date and time frame for completing the project planning and work
  • Defining the scope of the project (what will be included and not included to help you stay on track)

For a blogger, it’s usually enough to just sit down and write these things out in a word processor or Google Docs.

Stage Two: Planning

Planning your project consists of figuring out:

  • What has to be done (tasks)
  • How much money has to be spent (budget)
  • What people and tools you have to accomplish your work (resources)

In large projects involving hundreds of people and tasks over several months, we use fancy-schmancy project management software that uses Gantt charts and which tracks task dependencies and the critical path. But for blog projects, we need to operate at a smaller scale. Personally, I use Remember the Milk. It has just enough features without being bloated for managing task lists. One thing I like about it in particular is that it works with Google Calendar. There are plenty of similar task management tools on the web or in desktop software.

For tracking costs and spending, if necessary (usually it’s not), I use Google Docs and make a spreadsheet to list costs. I make a list of my resources in Google Docs, dividing them between what I have and what I need to get. I need to make sure I acquire the correct resources before they’re needed during the project. For blog projects, resources can be anything from a designer you’re hiring to software and plugins or domains and hosting.

Stage Three: Implementation

Once our plan has been made, then we execute on it. We complete the tasks and check them off the list. For blog projects, we don’t need to keep track of much, but some things you want to note are:

  • Where you under- or overestimated dates, times, and costs
  • Whether you thought of everything and if not, what you missed
  • What you have accomplished, and what you still have yet to do
  • Any problems that crop up and seem to throw off your plan

If other people are involved in your blog project, you need to keep communications open, frequent, transparent, and non-accusatory (tempers can rise under stress so stay cool).

Stage Four: Close-Out

The fourth stage is about wrapping everything up and making sure you haven’t forgotten anything. For blog projects, this often involves testing things to make sure they’re going to work. It could also include getting involved with other people in a pre-launch marketing effort. Other blog project close-out possibilities might include:

  • Testing plugins
  • Testing every possible type of content in a theme or template
  • Subscribing to feeds to make sure they work correctly
  • Testing the search functionality
  • Testing 404 pages
  • Testing comments when you’re not logged in
  • Combing through the archives to make sure imported blog posts are there
  • Combing through posts to make sure image links still work after a migration or permalink change
  • Making sure all blog authors can access the blog and perform their duties
  • Testing any other software integrated into the blog, such as forums or AdSense revenue-sharing plugins
  • Pizza and beer! You have to celebrate! ūüėÄ

One thing you want to do after every project is jot down some notes for yourself about lessons learned so you can do better next time you’re trying to accomplish something similar.

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Michael Martine has been involved in web design and internet marketing since the late 90's. He is a blog coach and consultant at Remarkablogger. He lives in beautiful Vermont, U.S.A., with his wife, step-daughter, and grandchild.

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Design & Coding

Fotor Photo Editor – The Perfect Graphic Design Tool for Bloggers

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As bloggers and content creators, it’s important to always have visual content built within our best articles and site designs. Infographics, clip art, stock photos and more… but customized and original images will always grab the most attention.

When it comes to actually creating such visuals, you will have many different options to choose from. Whether you are looking for a free application, one that is browser-based, or even if it’s a premium software you need to download and pay for — it’s important to know what’s out there.

Today we are going to be looking at Fotor photo editor which is a free and powerful tool that lets anyone get started with their own graphic design in just a few short minutes.

This tool allows anyone to start using it through a web browser or even with their mobile application. Whether you need to edit a photo, make a collage, or create a custom and original design, it can all be done through the power of Fotor.

The most popular features of this tool are it’s one click filters and fixes that allowed anyone to make their images pop and stand out like never before.

Let’s take a look at some of the many benefits to using Fotor photo editor for your website, blog, or just everyday life.

With most people looking to customize their mobile screenshots on photos with a few simple click of a button, and this is exactly what fotor photo editor will allow you to do. It will also allow you to create custom YouTube banners that can be used to liven up your channel as well.

You can see a few of these examples in the screenshot below.

When comparing Fotor to other graphic design applications like Photoshop, you are going to find many similarities, but it’s also important to note that premium applications like Photoshop are much more advanced, but also more costly in the process. The software is free to use, you can upgrade to Fotor Pro and find even more upgrade and options available.

What makes this design application and tool great for site owners and bloggers, is that it has a unique set of design tools and features — which are what most content creators are looking. In short, it provides users with what they need, while not overwhelming them in the process.

Fotor also offers a nice selection of design templates to choose from, which makes the process of creating new and original content even easier. These template designs scale across the many different design themes, sizes, and concepts on the site.

In addition to everything else mentioned, there is also a nice collection of resources, guides, and tutorials that can be found on their site blog. Such resources will provide users what the information and walk-through processes to get the most out of Fotor.

If you are currently looking for a new design editor to improve the look and feel of visual content on your site, be sure to give Fotor a try.

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Design & Coding

4 Essential Elements of Web Design (No.3 Will Shock You!)

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If you’re a small business owner take note of these four elements of web design. They’re essential for boosting your online presence. Click here for more info!

Have you ever wondered why most business websites tend to look the same? It’s like you’ve seen one and you’ve seen them all.

The truth is a lot of business owners prefer the easy route. That means going for a website builder, which offers templated designs.

If you want something different, you’ll have to go custom. But that takes a lot of time. Plus, you’ll have to look for a skilled designer/developer.

Whatever route you choose, you need to understand the elements of web design. After all, it’s your website. If you choose to hire a pro, you need to know what to ask for.

And if you opt to DIY it, then you can steer clear of cringe-worthy web design. That said, here are 4 web design elements that will help boost your online presence.

1. User Journey

You can scroll through countless website design guides and you’ll never see one that says, “ignore what users think.”

Consider mobile apps. Would you download something that’s hard to use and has a lot of annoying ads?

When you design your website, put yourself in your visitors’ shoes. Is your website hard to navigate? Does it load fast?

But how do you know if your user interface is good? Aside from consistency, it has to be simple, intuitive, responsive, and flexible.

This is why it’s good to test different designs first before committing to one. It saves time and eliminates the need for major changes later on.

2. Content

Designing for the web doesn’t stop when you have a “pretty” website. Sure, your target customers will appreciate nifty graphics and all. But if your content doesn’t offer value, users will leave your website.

Now, this doesn’t mean huge blocks of text that will drown your visitors with information. Opt for conciseness. Give your target audience content that’s easy to digest so they can process it better.

Depending on what CMS you are using, content creation is usually the easy part. This is especially the case when using platforms like Weebly, WordPress or Wix. Since most of these platforms are drag and drop, it’s simply a matter of getting familiar with each platform, and knowing how to create great content. There are no programming or design skills required.

3. Accessibility

Did you just check the title again? If yes, you may be wondering why this would be shocking. Shouldn’t this be part of any website designing guide?

The thing is there are plenty of websites that use low contrast for text because it’s trendy. But you have to take into account users who have vision problems.

There has to be enough contrast between text and background. And you also need to choose your colors well. You don’t want to alienate color-blind and blind users who use assistive technologies.

4. SEO

Some people approach website design as a separate entity from search engine optimization. But there’s a way to be strategic about the process so that design elements improve the SEO of your site.

The easiest way would be to outsource to an all-in-one design company such as https://www.databerry.com/. When they build your site, they also take care of the backend coding stuff. This ensures your title tags, meta tags, etc work for better search ranking.

Want to Know More About the Elements of Web Design?

Knowing the elements of web design is your first step to a website that looks and functions well. But getting them all right takes a bit of trial and error.

For more web design tips, don’t forget to check out our other blog posts.

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Defining the Best Colors, Style and Design for Your Brand Logo

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Have you ever thought about why some companies and brands are more successful and well-known than others? In many cases, it comes down to the products or services they offer, but the actual look and feel of the company brand can play a huge part in this as well.

A great example of this would be every brand that currently has a well-known logo design or identity, even though it doesn’t have the actual name of the company within the logo. Names like Nike, Target, Apple,¬†Microsoft, and Starbucks come to mind. Billions of people from around the world can recognize these brands simply by seeing their logo… and they don’t even need to see a name associated with it. You can see some of the most popular brand logo designs and changes they’ve made over the years in this¬†famous logos reference guide.

With all of that in mind, it’s important to create a logo design for your business that not only represents what you¬†do¬†but also one that resonates with your audience as well. To give another example of the many different ways an industry can influence the way logo are created to relate and brand with an audience, let’s take a look at some of the top online survey sites from a site like SurveyClarity.

What do you notice about each of the popular survey logo designs below? Not only are they mostly text-based, they are all different variations of GREEN! WebPageFX.com says the following about the color green in logo design:

Green is Youthful and Earth-Friendly: Health РTranquility РFreshness. Green represents growth, and evokes a feeling of relaxation and healing. It is the color of healthy vegetation, so it reminds viewers of nature and health. It is also associated with money and wealth.

This is something you will see in many different markets. Another great example is the banking or make money space. Many of the banks will have a green or blue feeling to them — which both represent calm, financial, and fresh feelings and emotions. However, many other brands like Twitter and Dell are using BLUE to represent their compani\y logo and brand as well.

Now that you likely have a better understanding of what different colors are being used in logo designs today, you might be thinking about the different styles, variations, and colors you can use within your own company or site design and branding.

Thanks to the “What Type of Logo is Right for You?” infographic below (provided by¬†Designhill), we are going to break down the many components and choices of logo design, and how to best represent your brand.

To get started with the process, you should first decide on if you want a font-based¬†logo¬†or a graphic¬†design. No matter which option you choose, you can tweak both design types to work with whatever style you’d like to go with.

A “Word Mark” logo design is one that is made up of a stylized type font, yet is also original in design. A few good examples of this would be the HBO, NASA and CNN logo. At their core, they are text fonts — but also with a unique and custom design in the process.

After you’ve given some thought to the different colors, design types, and styles of logos you can create, we recommend you take a look at the new AI-powered¬†logo maker from Designhill. Not only is the tool free to use, it can create an unlimited number of logo designs for you to choose from. Keep scrolling through the designs until you find one that you like, then complete the process by purchasing the fulicensednced version of your logo design, which also comes in a wide range of file types.

How to Find the Right Logo Design for Your Band

As shown in the infographic below, we can answer a few simple questions to see what type of logo you might want to focus your efforts on for your brand. Depending on how you answer each of these questions, you will find a different result for your brand identity.

  • Is your business well established?
  • Is your business internationally known?
  • Do you plan to remain a small business?
  • Does your company have a long name?
  • Do your company contain a unique word?
Of the many different types of logos you can choose from, the most popular are emblems. However, you will also see a popular occurrence of word marks, pictorial marks, abstract marks and letter marks.
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