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Blogger Tip: How to add a welcome message above your posts

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welcomeAn increasing trend in blog design is the “welcome message” which appears on the home page, explaining to new readers what the blog is about, and possibly with links to subscription/about pages which offer more incentive for return visits.

If you are using Blogger to publish your blog, you could add an extra widget above the main posts section in which such a welcome message may be added and edited with ease. Once this section is added to your blog template, no further editing of the HTML code is required to change the message or it’s content: instead you can edit this section through the Page Elements section of your dashboard.

In this article, I’ll explain how to add an extra widget to your Blogger template which will appear above your blog posts and will only be visible on your blog’s home-page. I will also offer some suggestions for how to create an effective and successful welcome message for your blog, along with other possible uses for this simple Blogger hack.

What you will achieve using this tutorial

By default, your Blogger template will only display posts on your home page. While your blog title and the thematic content of your posts may go some way towards explaining what your blog is about, a welcome message adds more impact and encourages new readers to return again.

To illustrate this, compare the following screenshots:

screen-shot03-feb-02-1404
Blogger home page without a welcome message
Blogger Homepage with welcome message
Blogger Homepage with welcome message
Of the two, do you think the second homepage is more welcoming and enticing for a return visit?
Following this tutorial will help you create a similar welcome message to appear above your blog posts on the home page of your blog. Although I have used the Minima template as the basis for this tutorial, the code examples given should also work smoothly for any Blogger template: both the default designs and customized themes supplied by third party providers.

Adding an extra widget section above your posts

To add our welcome message to our Blogger template, we need to add a widgetized area above the main posts section which will only appear on the blog home page.
This is achieved in just a few short steps:
  1. Go to Layout>Edit HTML in your Blogger dashboard. Do not check the “Expand widget templates” box!
  2. Locate the following section of code:
    <b:section class='main' id='main' showaddelement='no'>
    <b:widget id='Blog1' locked='true' title='Blog Posts' type='Blog'/>
    </b:section>
  3. Immediately before this section, paste the following few lines of code:
    <b:if cond='data:blog.url == data:blog.homepageUrl'>
            <b:section class='main' id='main-top' showaddelement='yes'>
    <b:widget id='HTML99' locked='false' title='' type='HTML'/>
    </b:section>
    </b:if>
  4. Then save your template.
Now when you go to the Page Elements tab of your Blogger dashboard, you will notice a new widgetized section appears above your blog posts widget, that currently contains a blank HTML/JavaScript widget:
page-elements
Now we could simply add some content to this widget which would take on the same style as your blog posts, like this:
just-another-blog-basic-welcome
But since this doesn’t really make the welcome message stand out, we’re going to add some inline style to the content of the widget instead.

Adding stylish content to your welcome message

To ensure you can easily change the style and content of your welcome message through the Page Elements section of your Blogger dashboard, we are going to use “inline” css to make the welcome message stand out.
This is achieved by adding raw HTML code to the content of your widget; simply click on the “Edit” link for your widget, and ensure you use the “Edit HTML” editor rather than “Rich Text”.
Wrap your content in a DIV where styling is explicitly stated, like this:
<div style="your-style-properties-here">
<p>Your content here</p>
</div>

A working example

In the example pictured above, I used a soft yellow background, a little padding and added an image to ensure the welcome message is eye-catching and evocative of the content from my blog:
screen-shot05-feb-02-1459
Here is the HTML code I used to make my welcome message appear in this way:
<div style="background: #efe7c2; padding: 5px 10px 10px;">
<h3>Welcome to my blog!</h3>
<img border="0" style="float: right; margin: 0 0 5px 5px;" src="URL-OF-IMAGE" height="75px" width="75px" />
<p>Here I can explain a little about my blog, and why you may want to read it.</p>
<p>I could encourage you to subscribe by providing a subscription link like this, or highlight one or two of my best posts.</p>
</div>

You could use this example as the basis for your own “Welcome” message by changing the hex color, wording and image location as required. Then save the content of your HTML/JavaScript widget to see these changes appear in your actual blog home page.

Final Thoughts

I hope this tutorial has helped you understand how to add a simple welcome message to your Blogger home page which can assist the recognition of your blog’s thematic content and possibly encourage return visits from new readers.

Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below.

Amanda is a freelance blogger and web/blog designer. She writes about Blogger at www.BloggerBuster.com and maintains several other blogs on various subjects.

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7 Habits That Can Make You a More Efficient Blogger

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Starting a blog is exciting, whether you’re using it as an extension to promote your current business or you’re just trying to maintain the blog as a personal endeavor. In any case, part of your success will depend on your ability to write new blog posts at an efficient rate; if you aren’t producing new blog posts fast enough, your audience could lose interest in your content. Similarly, if it takes you too long to write a new blog post, your profitability is going to decrease.

The solution is to focus on improving your efficiency as a blogger, so you can accomplish more in less time and end up with more raw content as a result.  

The Best Habits to Improve Your Efficiency

These are some of the best habits to improve your efficiency as a blogger:

  1. Dress professionally. If you’re working from home or blogging in your free time, you’ll be tempted to wear the most comfortable clothes and lounge in the living room while writing. But if you want to be successful and work efficiently, it’s much better to dress professionally and establish a professional work area. The idea is to treat your blog work like it’s your job. You’ll take your work more seriously, and you’ll be less inclined to follow distractions. It may also change how you think about your work and how you approach problem-solving.
  2. Practice good hygiene. While you’re at it, make sure to practice good hygiene—especially if blogging is your full-time job. The most obvious habit here is to shower regularly, but you’ll also want to keep your clothes clean, take good care of your environment, or as 14K Gold Teeth suggests, clean accessories like custom gold grillz. You’ll feel more professional in your environment and will have less clutter to distract you.
  3. Stick to a routine. Routines are vital for improving your efficiency. They help you establish consistent processes, which you can follow to save time and refine your habits. They give you something predictable to work with, so you aren’t scrambling to figure out what to work on next. They also reinforce your most productive habits, so you can continue working without thinking too much about it—in other words, they’re procrastination-busters.
  4. Set a strict schedule. While you’re developing your routine, try to create and stick to a strict schedule. For example, you might set a timer for one hour to read the latest news, a half hour designated to preparing an outline, and another hour to finish your full first draft. These temporal limitations help you avoid Parkinson’s law, which states that the amount of time it takes to do a task will swell to fill whatever amount of time is allotted to it; in other words, the tighter you set your timetables, the more efficiently you’ll be motivated to work.
  5. Keep an editorial calendar. Create a high-level editorial calendar as early as possible, and stick to it the best you can. This will help you ensure your high-level goals and priorities never fall out of your sight, and make sure you never run out of work. Set target dates for drafting and publication, so you’re always working toward something, and jot down your new topic ideas whenever you get them.
  6. Stay organized. This should go without saying, but the vast majority of new bloggers suffer from not being organized. They read new material that could serve as inspiration for a new post, but lose the original article. They set goals for themselves, but forget them or change them too frequently for them to take effect. Create a system for taking notes and keeping track of your high-level priorities, and stick to it.
  7. Keep reading on a regular basis. Reading is one of the best ways to consistently and reliably improve your writing, so make time for it in your schedule. Reading work like yours can help you generate new ideas, improve your vocabulary, and increase your fluency, so you can write faster.

Learning and Improving

It’s a good idea to track your time while working on blog-related tasks. It will allow you to gather data on your productivity habits, and ideally, see how they improve over time. If there’s a particular task that takes up a disproportionate amount of your time, you can drop it or focus specifically on improving it. If you notice a strategy is making you more efficient in one or more areas, you can use it more frequently or apply it to different areas.

In any case, the real secret to becoming a more efficient blogger is committing to improve over time. Pay attention to how your habits develop, and continually refine your approach.

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Oh, Now I Get It! How to Explain Complex Topics to Your Audience

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Technical writers have a great number of skills, but perhaps the most important is the ability to adapt your language to the level of comprehension your audience has. A highly technical and complex article can overwhelm readers or even bore them.

“But it’s impossible to delight my readers and keep them engaged when I’m talking about the

IEEE 802.11ac principle of broadband technology,” We hear you cry. And, we get it. Turning a technical article into a sexy piece of content can feel like a daunting task, but it’s not mission impossible.

Here are a few content creation tips that will help you explain complex topics to your audience in a delightful manner.

Imagine That You Are Explaining the Subject to a Non-Tech-Savvy Friend

One of the most important things when creating technical content for a more broad audience is consistency. So, as much as possible try to use the same tone, level of knowledge, complexity of vocabulary, and so on. The easiest way to calibrate your writing style is to imagine that you are writing for a friend or a relative that has nothing to do with your area of expertise.

Imagine you are trying to explain a particularly complex topic to them, in a friendly and light discussion. How would you approach the subject? What elements you think would bore or frustrate them?

What helps you in the real world is adapting your style and vocabulary to the other person’s knowledge. You know that you don’t have to explain what an Internet browser does, but you might have to tell them more about the coding behind it when discussing responsive web design, for instance. Use common words and keep them engaged with a lighter, friendly style.

Adapt Your Vocabulary and Structure

Let’s take a look at how you can flip your technical writing to be more approachable. First of all: use concepts that your audience is familiar with or at least has a general idea about them.

A good start is to check what search words visitors use when browsing your website. You will identify commonly used terms that are related to the technology that interests them. Use those keywords yourself to keep visitors on your page.

Also, be careful about the structure of the text when writing online, especially when you are trying to explain something complex. Make sure to split your text into readable chunks. You can also help the reader understand the subject better by using titles and subtitles to separate the main ideas of your article.

Build up the Knowledge of Your Audience, from General to Detailed

Once you have established a common language and vocabulary between you and your target audience, start methodically presenting your topic, from general level information to more detailed aspects. Applying this rule will help you readers understand the topic better without wasting too much time. Online readers tend to ignore content that is, irrelevant or hard to understand.

While it is important to get the basics straight before getting deeper into your subject, make sure to summarize the purpose of your article at the very beginning, as it will let your audience know what they will learn about after going through it.

Use Style Tools That Help Your Audience Relate to the Topic

The fun part of writing about technical topics for a general audience is getting creative with it. Because you can’t use the “boring,” “stiff” technical jargon, you must come up with expressive comparisons, examples, and analogies. You can even evoke anecdotal evidence to support the facts since they are highly relevant for many of the users.

Helping them relate to the topic you are writing about is the key to grabbing their attention. Use day to day examples for the systems and processes you are describing, or mention the best-known similar thing. Give them examples of possible situations when they can come across the topic you are writing about and enable them to talk about it themselves.

Ultimately, is all about correctly identifying the level of knowledge your audience has. Encourage them to comment and ask any questions and keep the conversations alive.

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IT Management Solutions: What is the Key to Improving Employee Efficiency?

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There are many ways you can improve your employees’ efficiency. From decluttering the workspace to encouraging a stress-free environment, there is a whole range of things you can do to make your work life run smoother. One such technique you need to adopt for your company is an IT management solution.

What Does It Do?

An IT management solution such as SysAid takes all of the day-to-day programs that a business will use and consolidates them into one easy-to-use package. Every employee should be able to log on and complete all their work without having to leave the initial program.

It can contain such subsections as project management, customer relationship management, billing and invoicing, and a whole host of other features.

Why Should Employers Implement Such a Solution?

A system such as this allows managers to have better visibility over the company as a whole. They will be able to tell if an employee is completing their daily tasks to the best of their ability and will also allow them to see where they are lacking.

The data from the completion of these daily tasks can easily be tracked and analyzed to see where employees are struggling with efficiency. With some adjustments, efficiency can then be improved in these areas.

Project Management

One of the key reasons to install an IT management solution is for the project management aspects. A good project management program lets all employees know where they are with their projects at all times. Whether you are just working on the project or a project manager, you will be able to see the stage that the project is at and all the steps and processes that still need to be completed.

This collaborative nature helps improve speed and efficiency and stops the project becoming grounded in a lack of communication. If you are not yet using a project management system, you will notice that many small but important problems like misuse of resources will be greatly reduced.

Customer Relationship Management

By having your customer service staff use one portal for all their needs, you will see a great improvement in efficiency when it comes to handling customer enquiries. An IT management solution can contain a database with all your customer’s information. This means that if a case needs to be passed from one team member to another, there is little to no chance of any relevant information being lost in the transfer. Everything should be in place in the one database.

Invoicing and Billing

Keeping your various accounts and invoices in different places can lead to items being forgotten or double-charged. By using an IT management software, your managers and accountants will be able to successfully keep track of all costs and reduce unnecessary spending. This will improve efficiency as multiple enquires are not being made to complete invoices and other reports.

There are just some of the ways an IT management solution can improve your business. If you feel you need to improve your company’s efficiency, consider implementing one today.

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