Aspiring DIY Online Publishers: Learn Photoshop

You know I’ve been blogging for almost 8 years now, and am still constantly floored as to the fact that what I write here is actually read by real people. I know that sounds nuts, since this is, of course, a blog on the in’ernet for chrissake, but I just checked out my ‘Just a few thoughts before I hie of to ZZZ land’ post last May 21, and the counter there says its been read 2412 times.

Now I know that counter can be wrong and is nowhere near as accurate as I’d want it to be, but 2412 times?!?! Even if the right number is just half that, I’d still be floored.

The reason why these things surprise me I think, is really because I really just write for myself when I write on this thing. Now I know that sounds like a whole lotta hallelujah, but that’s the truth. Stuff happens to me, and I wanna write it here so I won’t forget. Writing it here, I get to put a date and time stamp on it, and maybe two or three folks, like, say, a batchmate or a relative, will check it out and chime in with their own thoughts. Perfectly reasonable, right?

But 2412?!? Wow, if I say so myself.

So anyway, to the subject at hand (for a person who claims he just writes for himself, he sure is saying a lot).

Jill and I spend a lot of time looking around at other Kikay websites, along with Chief Mom Jen, looking for other Mom / Parenting sites as well. Anyway, so from looking at them, I realized the common denominator, and that is – a distinct need to learn Photoshop.

So ok, some of them need to learn to write too. But that’s the minority, and heck if a site doesn’t ‘speak’ well it doesn’t even rank, so those sites are out the window. For the most part, those that do hold promise show the following common issues: a.) oversized pics, b.) badly cropped pics and c.) badly placed pics. A and B can both be fixed by some Photoshop knowledge, while C requires some HTML knowledge, but if you’re good at Photoshop to begin with, you may be able to pull a good post off while staying in WYSIWIG mode.

So now we have pinpointed the issue, here’s my (ahem) advice:

  1. Recognize that each post is a production. A blogpost for a magazine style blog such as Kikay or Momex has to be worked at. There’s research involved, to make sure you’re not talking crap and not just making things up. Then you have to start looking for appropriate pics – and when you find some, make sure they’re non – copyrighted, or if they are, make sure to give due notice where you got them. Next, you sit down and properly write it up, then finally, you lay it out using your html editor along with Photoshop.
  2. Buy a Photoshop Book. A cheap, beginner one will do. You will need to learn two things a. How to resize images, and b. how to crop. THAT’S IT. A Big honking Photoshop book will look impressive, but you only need to learn those two things and none more, so spare your money. Alternatively, you could:
  3. Look it up on the web. Google ‘how to resize images in photoshop’ and ‘how to crop images in photoshop’. I won’t do that for you, you go right ahead and cut and paste that into Google and DIY.
  4. Try to keep your images mostly the same size. If it is a pic to accompany a post, something with the width or 300 pixels or so will do. Once you’ve done that, use the same size more or less, for future posts. I promise you that the whole blog’s index page (aka home page), will look greeeaaat and professional if the pics and blogposts are well – aligned and the same size. Further note: If you are using WordPress, or a blog hosted in, you may also want to learn more about the powerful ‘more‘ tag, which is terrific for making posts uniform in height. Alternatively, you can also try the ‘page’ tag.
  5. Use the following code to wrap an image to the left of text:
    <img src="http://whereyourpictureis" align='left'/>
    Change the align value to right if you want it to go to the right. If you want it to be centered on the page, wrap it around div tags, like this:

    <div align="center"><img src="http://whereyourpictureis" align='left'/></div>

    That’s a good trick for very large pics.

  6. To put a 5 pixel amount of whitespace in between your pics and text, insert vspace='5' hspace='5' onto your img code, like this:
    <img src="http://whereyourpictureis" align='left' vspace='5' hspace='5'>.

    This may or may not work depending on your CSS stylesheet, some of which automatically insert white space around images, some of which inexplicably, ignore them. Experiment with these first.

Well that’s it for the moment, I’ll append to this if I think of some more img related stuff.

I admit one of the reasons I like helping out these Kikay girls to make their Fashion websites is because such sites are, to me, what passion about the Internet is all about. I love it whenever I hear of someone passionate about something deciding to put up a page or two describing their hobby / career / whatever it is that rocks their boat.

The people who do these, to me, are what makes the Internet interesting. Not the techie stuff. Not the geeky stuff, but the geeks who write about their geeky stuff. It can be some dude rocking on about his comic book collection, or some guy who talks about his muscle cars, or yes, some girl who loves fashion and make up and who just wants to share her finds with the world. It’s these people that power the ‘net.

But passion isn’t enough. Looking at all those sites that’ve fallen by the wayside, that’s become fairly obvious. If you’re gonna do it, do it right (insert a thousand other similarly framed cliches here), and learn the tools you need to get your stuff across. For now, take up my tips above, if it doesn’t help say what you feel at my comment section below. But whatever you do, if you gonna make yourself a site, learn Photoshop.

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