Posts Tagged ‘blogs’

Blog headers made easy

Hey all you fellow bloggers – how often do you change your blog header?

Some bloggers keep their same “signature” header year in and out, but I like changing mine with the seasons – I consider it one of the pros to working in an online environment.

I initially used pre-made headers, but it didn’t take me long to shift to using my own photos and free photos from places like Morguefile.com.

But I confess, I was frequently frustrated (and not terribly skilled) at cobbling photos and text together with Microsoft tools like Publisher and Powerpoint (yes, it is possible, but I don’t recommend it.)  Here’s a rundown of most of my past headers.

I use Picasa almost exclusively to edit my photos and I like that it’s free and user-friendly.  But until I saw this blog post at Blissfully Domestic, I hadn’t bothered to learn how to apply text or create photo collages.

Sarah’s step-by-step tutorial made it very easy to create the header you see.  Kudos to her skills and gratitude for her generosity in sharing.  I might start changing by blog header more frequently, now that I know how easy it is!

Happy blogging,

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5-years?  Not for me.

Maybe it’s because I’m a dilettante. Or maybe I just ignore the sage advice of blog experts who advise bloggers to find their image and make it their brand.

Hmmph.  Branding may be good for cattle, but I sometimes change things up a bit.  And therefore so does my blog.

Seriously, I like changing up my blog’s look every now and then okay, frequently.   I do try to keep the same fonts for the title and subtitle, so you know you’re at THIS Domestic Dilettante’s blog and not this one or that one.

If I kept a hand-written diary (and I was always good at starting, and lousy at persevering at them as a kid), I would NOT do well with one of these 5-year diaries. Cracking open this same cover for 1,825 days? No way, no how.  But I salute those who do.

Last year (I think it was last summer), I started playing around with customizing my blog banners. Thanks to  Banner of Blessings for some super cute (and free!) banners I personalized.  In addition to using a few of theirs, I’ve also used a few of my own photos – the bird house in the winter, and the newest header, which is our own new front porch with its hanging baskets of mini-petunias.

Unless I missed one or two, in the past year, I’ve gone through five banner headings, and am now on Number 6: 
A new change of scenery every 2-3 months?  That sounds about right.  I doubt I will recycle any of these, unless I just can’t find another seasonal image I like somewhere down the road.
It’s much less frequent than I change clothes but more frequent than I change my wardrobe or hair color. And WAYYYY more frequent than I change paint colors or furniture.  (Which is good, because it’s a whole lot easier – and cheaper – to change blog banners than wall colors.)
Happy blogging,

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Google’s search results are eliciting some grumbles from influential bloggers.  (I certainly don’t count myself among the “influential” crowd; but as a semi-serious blogger, it is interesting to hear their perspective, since they make their living off search engines like Google leading readers to their pages.)

I am a bit of a statistics geek (I can hear my college professors roaring with laughter.) Seriously, I like taking a peek and seeing how much traffic a new blog post gets.  Every now and then I even get a wild hair to try to make sense of Google’s analytics.  A friend recently asked about how my blog was doing, how many monthly hits it was getting, if I had plans to monetize it, etc. I felt somewhat apologetic when I confessed I haven’t made it into a money-maker, but it’s a conscious choice to not pursue advertising or sponsorship.  And  I am fortunate: I don’t need it to return a profit at this point in my life.

I also don’t know if I will dally too much in the realm of touting products for compensation or freebies, either.  Although my Christmas venture with Shutterfly was pretty cool, and if you’re a company who would like to offer me a fabulous product or service to showcase, I am definitely willing to hear you out 🙂

But by and large, I like being able to write from the heart, without worrying if my words are search-engine optimized. I like being able to write about whatever genuinely interests me, and hopefully it is of interest to those who read my posts. I have found some odd searches have led people to my blog, from reheating runzas, to potatoes au gratin, house wishlists, green bean bundles and stinky Dysons.) I hope those seekers found what they were looking for, because I sure didn’t pen those posts to lure them to my blog and try to sell them anything.

And I like following writers who blog about subjects they are passionate about, whether it’s tied to their vocation or avocation.  Contrived posts full of strategically crafted phrases and wording….blech. The internet is bound to attract some spam, but thankfully we can snub it in favor of bona fide content written by people who care to share their real thoughts with the world.  And hopefully Google (or another up-and-comer search engine) will soon figure out how to weed out the spam for us.

Happy blogging,

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Happy birthday, baby blog!

A year ago today, I launched the Domestic Dilettante with this post.  In the 365 days that followed, I changed up my blog background and header five times.  And I found – more days than not – something to say:  190 posts and counting.  (Big surprise there, huh?)

If only I could settle on a permanent background and image…

It’s been a fun year of learning the ins and outs of blogging.  If you are one of my lurker/readers (I know who MOST of you are), I will tell you what I wished for when I blew out that virtual candle below; hopefully it won’t jinx me. 

It was two wishes, actually:

  1. That you enjoy reading about my escapades and tidbits of half-baked wit and wisdom; and 
  2. More of you will show your “faces” here.  Or at least comment on a post now and then.  (I love hearing from you, too!)

More seriously, my biggest wish is for another year of God’s grace and mercy and wisdom to pour down on all of us; for His help and comfort in our times of need; and that He will provide us with opportunities to help others in the coming days and weeks and months.

Happy blogging,

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Before you ask me to follow your blog….

One of the goals of a typical blogger is to get people to faithfully read their blog posts.  The easiest way to keep up with a particular blogger is to “follow” their blog and get an email update whenever a new post is added.

A few really serious bloggers make a living from ads or products and/or services they offer via their blog, but for most of us, being read is the only form of compensation we receive.  (Hint:  comments are always welcome.  They’re kind of like applause after a performance, letting us know you didn’t fall asleep halfway through.)

And most bloggers read/follow other blogs.  That makes sense:  those who love to write generally like to read, too.

I don’t have a long list of blogs I follow, but there are those that I do keep up with – some of them are listed on my blog.  (Sharing the good news and all that.)   Unfortunately, I have discovered that I am the proverbial “kiss of death” for many an unsuspecting blogger.  As soon as I start following, they stop writing.  So if I don’t follow your blog, please don’t take it personally – I’m just trying to protect your writing muse.

Happy blogging,

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Fall comes to Big Orange Country

Indeed, Tennessee is Big Orange Country and it’s God’s Country. (Why else would He have made sunsets orange?) All half-joking and state pride bragging aside, it is time for fall and football – game two for Dooley and the boys today; the season opener for Jeff Fisher and our own Titans on Sunday. Who cares if the calendar says it’s technically fall or not? It’s in the air and it’s in our hearts. The hot tub is a perfect 100 degrees; the outdoor fireplace is all set with kindling and logs.

Yesterday I switched my blog background and header and now it’s time for the orange blitz:  orange jerseys, orange t-shirts, orange blankets, and orange pumpkins – and a new baby blue sweater for Sunday’s Code Blue.

The weekend’s plans included a Friday evening dinner and catching-up time in Clarksville with some very dear friends from Oklahoma.  Saying prayers for a safe trip home for this sweet family and wishing a special young man godspeed in his travels when he deploys with his unit on Monday.  We’ll be counting down the days until he’s back.

This morning it was time to drag the fall decorations out of the attic (some years that doesn’t happen until late October, but this year, I’ve got the “bug” early.) Here’s the mantel before (this spring) and now: 

And may the Lord have mercy on me if I step foot in Hobby Lobby while I’m in this weakened state – the smell of craft items will surely cause me to swoon and/or deliriously buy everything in sight.  (Must remain strong. Must remain away from craft stores…)

Tonight, us girls will rustle up some chicken wraps and catch the UT-Oregon game on ESPN.  It’s a 6:00 kickoff so I encouraged Mr. Official to take our oldest son with him since I need to have my wits about me if I’m going to teach on Sunday morning.

It’s also time to keep one ear to the ground for sleigh bells…the first Christmas commercial is undoubtedly on its way.  (Hmmm, if only I watched TV with any regularity these days, I might win our family contest to see who sees/hears the first one of the season.)

Happy fall, y’all!

P.S. I hope we will all take a moment today to meditate on the events of nine years ago:
those who died,
those who survived,
and those who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe ever since.

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Me and Mmes. Myers and Briggs

I have taken a handful of professionally administered Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessments in my adult life. If you’ve taken one, you probably realized it would be pretty easy to  “game” the results.  (But that would only prove that you can deliberately fool yourself.)

What is harder to discern is when you are unwittingly kidding yourself: when you convince yourself that you WANT to be a certain way, whether you really are like that or not.  I learned early on that MBTI doesn’t esteem one personality type above another, so it’s not like you get gold stars for being one type over another. That takes a lot of the pressure off and you can just do your best to answer the questions honestly and let the proverbial chips fall where they may.

For most of my career, my MBTI profiles typically indicated I was an ENTJ or an ESTJ.  If you’re not familiar with MBTI, you answer a series of questions and wind up with one of 16 possible “types” based on the four areas of assessment:

  1. Favorite world.  Or as I put it, are you an outie or an innie? Extraversion=E; Introversion=I.
  2. Information. If you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in, you’re an S (for Sensing); if you prefer to interpret and add meaning, you’re an “N” (for Intuition)
  3. Decisions. When making decisions, are you all about logic?  Then you’re a Thinker (T).  If you tend to first take people and circumstances into consideration, you’re a Feeler (F).
  4. Structure. In dealing with the outside world, us Judging (J) folks cut to the chase and git ‘er done, while Perceiving (P) people like to keep their options open.

My results weren’t surprising, considering that my education was in the accounting and finance fields.  With some conscious effort and personal development, I managed to flip all the way over to to an ESFJ at one point in my corporate career, but my bookends were always E and J.  That is/was me, or so I thought.

Fast forward a decade; the other day I ran my blog through a site called “Typealyzer.com” and…well, see for yourself:

What?  When did I morph into an ESFP?  The only thing more surprising would have been learning I had become introverted.  My guess is that isn’t even an option for this software; is there such a thing as an introverted blogger?  My money is on “no” on that one. 

And in fairness to Typealyzer, they offer a caution against drawing too many conclusions about your personality type based on your blogger’s profile.  But, an ESFP?  Have I:
a) really changed that much since I hopped off the corporate gerbil wheel?or
b) just used this blog as a creative outlet, and my business-like game face is still ready and waiting in the wings? or
c) finally found proof of my alter-ego? (I’ve always joked about having an “evil twin.”  Who knew she was a Martha-Stewart type!)

So, I went in search of some down-and-dirty MBTI-esque assessment tools online.  Took a couple and reassured myself I’m still an ENTJ…MAYbe an ENFJ if we stretch it a bit.  But E and J are intact.  Whew.  Nothing against Perceivers. Y’all are great.  I’m just not one of you, even if my blog says otherwise.

Want to take a free MBTI-type test? Here’s one.  And then run your blog through the Typealyzer site.  The results are interesting; as you can see, your mileage may vary.

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