WordPress Framework: Genesis

As a blogger, one of the most important things is how you style your blog. Today I will be talking about styling your self-hosted WordPress blog (I recommend HostGator or Dreamhost). There are so many options out there for themes, some paid and some free. I’ve tried so many themes on my various blogs and come to find that using a WordPress Framework is something that makes styling my blog a little easier for me. I know some people do not prefer it, but I’ve found that it works for me.

What is a framework? A stand-alone base/starter Theme that is intended either to be forked into another Theme, or else to be used as a Parent Theme template. Source

After searching for a framework that worked for me, I settled on StudioPress Themes, specifically Genesis Framework, for the simple fact that it is pretty easy to use, has a ton of child themes available, and is pretty reasonably priced. Purchasing the framework (for $59.95) and any of the child themes also gives you access to all future updates as well, which is pretty neat since it’s gone through some major changes lately. Also, once you purchase something, you get a returning customer discount applied to all your future purchases!

If you are extremely new to blogging and/or do not feel comfortable with coding, this is a great option for you as well. Once you install the framework, you can choose a child theme to use and upload that to your theme section and activate it, there isn’t much to edit besides widgets. You can go a little further and add customized headers, change colors, etc. All themes do have installation instructions as well.

On all of my blogs Her-Network, Polka Dot Heart, Oh Excite, & Entertainment all use the Genesis Framework and one of its child themes. You can see how different they look even though they are using the same framework. Just because you are using a framework doesn’t mean your blog has to look like similar to other blogs. My main blog Polka Dot Heart is totally customized to my liking.

Click here to download The Genesis Guide for Absolute Beginners (PDF – 1.4 MB)

There are other frameworks out there as well like Thesis and Headway. The nice thing about Genesis Framework that differs from those two is that you can use Genesis on an unlimited amount of sites and not have to pay extra.

Do you use a framework? If so, which one? If not, do you think you will use one in the future?

* Some of these links are affiliate links. Even though I would love for you to click them, I really hope that you use this information to decide if a WordPress Framework is ultimately best for you.

Favorite Free Script Fonts #1

There are tons of places to get fonts and sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming to choose a font to use. Hopefully this list of some of my favorite free script fonts will help you with that! I hope to do more of these in the future and include other types of fonts as well. Enjoy!

fonts-script

Download
Jenna Sue | Always In My Heart | A Gentle Touch
Coneria Script | Housegrind | Praying Angel

Monthly Blog Calendar Printable

So when it comes to blogging, I’ve always been pretty sporadic but since using a blog calendar, it has made blogging a little easier! So today I bring you a monthly blog calendar printable. I have included a PDF and PNG file for those who maybe want to use it on the computer. I hope this helps you all out there.

HerNetwork-MonthlyBlogCalendar
Download PDF with polka dot background
Download PDF with white background
Download PNG with polka dot background

Easy Social Media Button Install

In order to promote ourselves as brands and bloggers we rely heavily on our social media presence. In order to continually engage our readers, we need to direct them to our social media sites. The easiest and most efficient way to do this is to have links to your social media sites right on your blog.

The first step to installing social media buttons on your blog is to first create or download a set of buttons. All over the web are free resources where you can download a set of buttons. Or you can grab the set below!


Download

The first step to adding social media buttons to your blog is find a place to host your images. You can do this on your blog, but I find it much easier to use a self-hosting site. My site of choice is Photobucket, it’s a great blogging resource. Once you upload your buttons and determine the proper size they need to be for your blog, you’re ready to add your html code.

A. This is the html tag for a link. You’ll type this exactly as it is. In place of the URL you’ll put in the web address of your social media pages. If you are adding a Facebook button, put your Facebook address here, etc.  Anything that is between the <a href> tag and the </a> tag will be linked to whatever URL you add.

ex: <a href=”http://www.facebook.com/kaseysurfs”>My Facebook Page</a>
looks like this: My Facebook Page 

B. This is the html tag for an image. You need to find the web address for your image. Typically you can right click the image where it’s located and click the “copy image address” button. This web address will go in place of the URL in the img src tag.

ex: <a href=”http://www.kaseysurfs.com”><img src=”kaseysurfs_zps3c4ba705.png”></a>
looks like this:
 C. Whenever you start a tag <a href> <img src> you have to end it so your site knows when to stop looking for the link or the image. All tags end with the use of /. Therefore to end your link you need use </a>.>You’ll need to do this with each button. This is the easiest way to  add your social media buttons to your site and they look great!

How To Create A Media Kit For Your Blog & Why They’re Important

Whether you’re a blog veteran or a newbie, one of the most important things that you can have in your “blog arsenal” is a press/media kit. If you’re interested in sponsorship with either companies or fellow bloggers, having a media kit will aid in not only convincing potential sponsors to invest in your blog, but help you stand out to those potential sponsors as well.

So, what exactly is a blog media kit? In a nutshell, it is a document that you put together for potential blog sponsors, whether is be fellow bloggers or companies.

Why will a blog media kit benefit your blog?  Not only does it make you and your blog look credible, it shows potential sponsors that you take your blog seriously! It’s also something quick and easy to send out to anyone interested in working with you and your blog.

Things you should include in your blog’s media kit:

  • A picture of yourself with your name, so that potential sponsors can see who they’re working with.
  • You current stats. This includes blog stats as well as social media stats.
  • Your contact information.
  • A small blurb about you and your blog.
  • List of brands that you’ve worked with.  (I forgot to include this in my example—Whoops!)

Tips to think about when creating your media kit:

  • Don’t go crazy with the fonts! Pick two and stick with them. I used the two that my blog designer used, so that my media kit would be cohesive with my blog design.
  • Try to use the same picture for everything…your blog, social media, and your media kit! It helps with recognition.
  • Make it a reflection of you! I can’t stress that enough.
  • Update your media kit every so often to reflect large changes in your stats.

Here is an example of my current media kit, I whipped this up in Photo Shop quickly to have something to attach to this post. My actual media kit is in .PDF form and a little more put together than this one, design wise, but all of the information is the same.

MediaKitExample

There are so many great articles out there about creating a media kit for your blog. Do a simple Google search if you’d like to soak up more information!

First Giveaway!

GIVEAWAY
Her Network is having its first giveaway and has teamed up with some of the forum’s admins to bring you some nice goodies! You can win a domain for 1 year plus some advertising on Her Network, Polka Dot Heart, Chevrons & Anchors, and Cupcakes & Curves!

This giveaway is open to US and international! You can enter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 Image Sources For Your Blog Posts

Blogging is more than just words now. Plain blocks of text, no matter how interesting the content, will often discourage a majority of readers from continuing to peruse your blog.

Our eyes gravitate towards accompanying photos, which not only whet our interest into reading more, but actually reel in readers from the start. Bloggers who are scrolling down their feeds will stop and backtrack when they see a picture of a delicious cheesecake under a blog post titled “How to Bake a Cheesecake”. Were they hungry before they saw the picture? Perhaps not, but they are now. They are also probably interested enough to learn how to bake a cheesecake. Congratulations! You just reeled in a reader.

This, friends, is why you should not ignore that Featured Image option. That is the trailer/poster to your movie.

Now that we have established the importance of photos in your blog posts, below are five ways to procure images and photos that are free and relatively high-quality.

1. Take photos with your camera

If you don’t have an expensive DSLR, your camera phone will do just fine. Smartphones are now equipped with 8+ megapixel cameras with very high screen resolutions. There is an LG phone out right now that boasts 1440 x 2560 resolution, which is way more than what my point-and-shoot digital camera can take. There are also a boatload of apps that will help you process your photos. The best part of all this is you don’t have to worry about crediting your source because it is 100% yours.

© James M. Turley

2. Flickr: Creative Commons

In a nutshell according to Flickr, “Many Flickr users have chosen to offer their work under a Creative Commons license, and you can browse or search through content under each type of license.” You can read more about it here. What this means is you can use the photographers’ or artists’ work as long as you credit them and you don’t use the piece commercially. Go to Advanced Search and check the box next to “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”.

3. deviantArt: Resources and Stock Images

dA is probably the oldest online art community I know. It is a haven for artists of all kinds to showcase their work. It is also a good place to find Resources and Stock Images. They have almost everything you can think of–actions, brushes, and textures for Photoshop; lineart that you can color yourself; photos of figure models; random objects, etc. It works a lot like Flickr’s Creative Commons where you need to credit the source. However, there are some artists who won’t mind if you don’t. Make sure to read their rules, if any, in the description.

4. Pinterest

Pinterest is an online scrapbook with its millions of boards and pins. It is like Google Image Search, but prettier. Because the pins are collected from its online source instead of manually uploaded by individual users, it is not difficult to trace the image’s original whereabouts. The catch here is even if you find a photo that you would like to use, you still have to make sure that the creator OK’s it for duplication or reposting elsewhere.

5. Stock.XCHNG

…”the leading source of free stock photos!” The images you can find in sxc are royalty-free, which means you don’t have to pay for them and you don’t have to go through the whole process of crediting and linking back (although it would still be nice if you did anyway). There are hundreds of images you can find if you use the right keywords or tags. In fact, I punched in “pirate” and this was the first result:

It is called “Octopus The Pirate”. I’m not kidding.

How awesome is that?

What other places online or other methods do you use get your images? Share the wealth!

How To Add A Grab Box

Ever wanted to add a grab box to your blog? Here is the code we use! It’s easy to install and takes just a couple of minutes.

To display something like this:

Just use this code (replace with your URL & button):

<center><a href="http://her-network.com/" target="_blank"><img src="http://her-network.com/250x150.png" border="0"></a>

<textarea cols="25" rows="4"><a href="http://her-network.com/" target="_blank"><img src="http://her-network.com/250x150.png" border="0"></a></textarea></center>

And that’s it! Quick and easy.

Favorite WordPress Plugins #1

I will try and post a round up of some of my favorite WordPress plugins every month or so. I know there are so many to choose from so I will post around 3-5 each month. Here goes our first round up!

favoriteplugins-akismet1 Akismet - I would have to say this is the one plugin that I activate on all my WordPress sites. It’s a great way at blocking spam. It needs a key to run but once you get it, you will see how quick and easy it is to stop spam comments once and for all.

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favoriteplugins-contact Contact Form 7 – This is a nice and easy plugin to create contact forms. You can manage multiple contact forms and also use different email addresses per form (if needed). You can insert into a page using short code and voila!

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favoriteplugins-share Shareaholic – Want to add social media share buttons to your posts or pages? You can use this to do that! There are tons of options for specific social media sites. You can choose to add it to posts, pages, index, etc. Very easy to use and pretty also!

Let us know what your favorite plugins are and why you like them.

Welcome!

Welcome to Her Network! Her Network is going to be a place where female bloggers can come together, meet new people, get tutorials and advice for their blogs, ask questions, and baiscally just support each other. You are more than welcome to join the forum. I will be adding more categories as needed.

I’ve been working behind the scenes and now am ready to look for some contributors for the website. If you are interested in writing for Her Network, let me know here.