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Monday, March 10, 2008

A more efficient blog...

In the past two days I've been highly interested in the the comments posted on Crafty Gardeners blog. The original title was "What do you read on a blog" and the many comments left were very informative.

One change I made as soon as I read the replies and todays follow up blog is to remove the word verification for people who want to leave comments. Mom, that means you should be able to leave a comment now, hint, hint.

Another thing that was confirmed for me was that people like the pictures on blogs. So, even though the attached photo has nothing to do with this topic, I've added it here as a bit of embellishment. Just because it makes me happy :-)

Two things are still confusing to me. Some blogs spread all the way across the page and others run down the middle leaving two bare inches on each size. I have yet to find a background that uses all the space on the page. I wonder why there aren't more blogs that cover the whole screen.

The second issue is some people mentioned they don't like the advertisements. Can somebody who has those advertisements comment about this? Do you actually earn proceeds for those advertisements? My blog has the capability to "Earn revenue by displaying relevant ads on your blog." What kind of revenue? Is it worth it to add this element. How do all of you feel about this?


tina said...

i am glad you took the word verification off. i find it a pain commenting when bloggers have it on. don't know about ads, i don't earn any money off from mine but i would sure like to know if bloggers do!

Crafty Gardener said...

Thanks for the link to my blog post. I use the minima stretch layout from Blogger. I've tried others but this gives me work usable space. Sorry I have no idea about ads on blogs, it is something I have stayed away from.

shirl said...

Hi there, Melanie :-)

Thanks so much for posting this with the link to Crafty - sadly I got hooked into reading all the comments on her posting that it is now too late to have a good browse through your site :-D

I love your photos, presentation and plants. I do intend to return and browse further to get a fuller flavour of you and your garden - I don't expect that I will be disappointed :-D

Out of interest I have a question for you. When I discover a new blog I do look through the archives. Understandably I won’t comment on more than a few. Do you prefer to have comments on the actual posts or as one longer comment on one of your recent ones? I am curious what others think :-D

Sorry, I cannot help with your advert question. I am trying to avoid using them myself but that is just my choice. Also I have avoided expanding the width of my template as my husband advised me to consider others with smaller screens at 800x600 who then may not see the whole page on screen.

Gail said...


I am going to go over to crafty gardener and read the post...but first I want to tell you that the photo you used to illustrate your point is fabulous;)


A Softer Side said...

I LOVE the bike!!!!!!!!!!

Carol said...

Hi Melanie, I'm also considering removing the word verification from my comments. They can be annoying.

I do have some Google ads on my blog. It took seconds to set it up, they do seem to be for the most part relevant, so I leave them on my sidebar.

I've never varied from my original "default" blogger template but think that someday I might update it. I'm more interested in my content right now, but do realize some people may be turned off by the template and not even get to my posts.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Blackswamp_Girl said...

I go back and forth with the word verification issue. I tried to leave it off as long as I could, but I kept getting bad comment spam and had to put it back on so I didn't have to go through and delete everything by hand.

I don't have google ads, but a friend of mine does. You get paid so many cents for each time a visitor to your blog clicks on an ad... but you don't get anything until you have reached at least $100. So she's been blogging for about 6 months and has yet to earn anything.

Anna said...

I read her post with great interest too and took off my music. I was approached by one company to advertise on my blog but I chose not to. They said I would get a certain percentage from the sales through people who got to their site via yours. Proven Winners has ask me to write articles for them and test some of their plants but it's not for pay--it's for plants...even better. I already know a lot about them cause I've worked for a Proven Winners nursery.

I love your pic above. I want to find an old bike for my garden. I do think pictures get the most viewers to your site. I've been playing around with my computer programs and creating stuff---but it's nothing like the real thing. And you got lots of the REAL thing!!

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I prefer not to have advertisements on my blog. Unless there was significant revenue from the advertisements the clutter wouldn't be worth it.

I use the Blogger template called Stretch Denim, (second box in the template settings). I really like not having the wasted space on the sides.

I like not having the word verification too.

Frances, said...

Thanks for this post. I had wondered why the column was so narrow on some of the blogs, including my own, thought maybe it left room to add the sidebar stuff which I like. I dropped the word verification also, because sometimes it is so hard! No spam yet. That is good to know about some computer screens being smaller also. You and crafty are on the ball!

Frances at Faire Garden

Melanie said...

Tina, that word verification seems to be very unpopular. Many times I couldn't tell the difference between a "p" and a "q" when they were written in unusual fonts.

Crafty, thanks for the tip on the layout, I've been looking into different options now.

Shirl, glad you had some nice reading :-). As for comments, I'll take them any way they come. When they come from an older post, at least I know what they are referencing but when they are with the latest post they could also alert other readers to go back and read something interesting.

Gail & Softer Side, isn't that bicycle just wonderful! My friend Gianna knew I was looking for one and she found it at the curbside. What a great friend, she even picked it up and delivered it here! The basket on the handlebars has to be replaced every year. When I was a little girl I had one just like it so I always look for a new one in that shape.

Carol, my first template was the old tan and brown looking print. I chose it because of the name of my blog "old country garden" but I really felt that it seemed tired after awhile. The softer colors I have now hopefully accent the photos I attach.

blackswamp girl, 6 months! I'm just not that patient! By then my plant buying splurges are already over again.

Anna, I loved the music on your site but I did wonder if it took awhile for other folks to download.

Robin, your blog is beautiful, I will also look at that stretch denim template.

Frances, glad to hear you haven't been spammed yet. I'll never forget the first time I had a blog. I logged on to 23 comments and I was thrilled, then I read them. spam, spam, spam. My whole ego deflated.

GardenJoy4Me said...

melanie .. the bike is great .. and there seems to be a few fans here in Kingston with that theme too ... great minds think alike ?
I don't think I would ever use advertising .. not at the moment in any case ..
I would love to have a more distinctive template for my blog .. scared to try anything new for now because once I get past the icebergs and in the garden .. well .. it ain't a pretty sight for a while and the blog is neglected for a bit .. so I don't want to screw that up ... yet ?
I have to check on my word verification thing .. hum ?

Gotta Garden said...

Hey Melanie: Saw your post(s) on the AHS Robin...enjoyed Bedeviled by Gardening!

I'm with Kim on the comments besides the fact that I don't know how to manually delete comments...It may be a pain to copy the letters, but it's not that much of a pain.

I go back and forth with the ads. I finally decided to add the google ads when I learned my content was being stolen...and the person was running google ads all around it! I figured if they were making money off my stuff, shouldn't I? I only have a small bit on a sidebar and it doesn't interfere with loading of the page that I can, for now, I'll go with it.

It doesn't bother me if bloggers have long as the page loads okay. I think it's great to be able to make some money doing something that you find fun!

Your blog is looking great, by the way, and what a lot of good information you're sharing!

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

The reason blogs don't cover the whole screen is readability. Your line length should be between 30 and 36 characters. A narrower column is less tiring to read because the eye doesn't have to struggle to find its place each time it moves from the end of a line to the beginning of the next line.

Mary Beth said...

Word verification has annoyed me at times (I'm always calling "g" "q" and vice-versa) so I don't know why I didn't think to turn it off on my blog. Duh! My one dissatifaction with Blogger is in replying to comments. I wish it allowed the blogger to reply in the same space as the comment.

Melanie said...

Joy, gotta get you a bicycle!

Thanks GG, hopefully this year I don't crash and burn like I did last year half way through the season.

MSS, thanks for the info! My friend Kim and I have been going back and forth looking at different formats. She kept assuring me that the way I have it now is nice and easy to read. I like the way the sections are separated too which I why I chose it to begin with.

Melanie said...

Mary Beth, wow, that's my biggest complaint too! I love the way it looks when people can answer each comment right underneath them. Oh well...I guess you get what you pay for :-)

Pam/Digging said...

I use a free WordPress template which allows me to edit comments, so I go into the edit mode and write my answer beneath the original comment. Can you not do that on the Blogger blogs? It's true that Blogger is free, but my site costs just $8 a month to be hosted at Bluehost, and the template itself was free. I customized the colors and fonts to jazz it up a little.

Blogger is easier and cheaper, but not by much.

And I don't do ads either because I think they clutter a blog and don't bring in much revenue to make up for it. But if I thought I could make a good chunk of change off ads, I might consider it.

minnesota kathi said...

Awesome post! I just love your picture :). I've been wanting to look for a small child's bike at a yard sale to paint it white then antique it for my garden but haven't found one yet, I wouldn't want a nice one as it could be used :).

There are ways to go into your html and edit your blog to make more space but I haven't gotten that far or figured it out yet.

I'm interested in knowing how it goes with your word verification off...perhaps you can post down the road, I surely don't want a bunch of spam but perhaps my Mother would post if I turned mine off :).

Have a wonderful day :)

historiana said...

About the template size....those huge margins have bugged me ever since I started blogging and that was only about 2 months ago.

I've been taking an XML class in grad school and it got me thinking about the HTML in our blog structure. The huge HTML codes in our blog templates looked sooo scary that when someone suggested I move things around a bit, I got cold sweats.

BUT....I ran across a really great blog that gives instructions on how to center sidebar items and add a third collumn to certain blogspot templates.

Not all of the blogspot templates are in his instruction guides, but take a look at what he changes to add the third columns....he basically adjusts the upper portions of the HTML, in the areas of wrappers or main areas. Each of these listings have margin entries that need to be changed to increase the size of your main body - in his case for a third column - in our case just to decrease that outer margin.

I don't use your template, but FIRST download the full copy of your current HTML as it suggests and from there, you can edit all you want to and preview each change to see if you like it.

With the different colors in your current template, the changes may be a little more challenging, if you stick with changing the number values in your margins, such as:

#outer-wrapper {
width: 900px;
margin:0 auto;
font: $bodyfont;

#main-wrapper {
width: 600px;
float: $startSide;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */

#sidebar-wrapper {
width: 250px;
float: $endSide;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */

As you can see, I changed my total outside wrapper to 900px as the first step which then allows the main wrapper and sidebar wrapper to be increased (to 600 and 250)....but be careful...your outside wrapper cannot be a lower number than the sum of your main and sidebar wrappers or it will squeeze your sidebar out of the main shot and put it at the bottom. Adjusting these numbers as you like and previewing them is very simple and rather harmless....especially because you already have the original saved, and blogspot has a clear all changes button at the bottom of that window....if you it...if not...clear it and nothing has changed.

With my current garden template, this was as easy as changing the three wrapper margins I listed....but with the extra colors you have, there may be a few other text body areas that also have margins to change....just play with it. I have a work blog that uses the scribe template, and I just changed it to increase the margins, but if you look at this guys blogger tips, I had to change the background hosting location (a URL) since blogspot only hosted an image that was 700 pixels. An outside company decided to host the background change, which he gave instructions for, but was rather more complicated than just changing the wrapper and text margins. Take a look at both of my blogs to see how they are not radically different, since I did want some border, but compared to others who have left them as is, the difference is clear....I'm much happier with them! Hope this helps...and remember, playing in the HTML is not as scary as it sounds, there is always an escape hatch!
Good Luck!

Meems said...

Melanie, this has been an interesting discussion both here and over at CG site. I left way TMI over there already but I wanted to say here that your blog is just what I look for in a blog. It is appealing visually on first look. You engage the reader with your writing skills (my skills are not in writing so I struggle myself with this part). Your photos are sensational. Your posts are interesting and informative. Keep it up- you have it figured out.
Meems @HoeandShovel

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