I am not from the computer age. I was not a young man when I first had to learn to operate a PC. From the outset, it was a challenge. I constantly asked advice from younger people, or those using computers for a living. But it didn’t really sink in. For me, what they found intuitive and easy to grasp, was a baffling process that I could just not get into my brain. I took notes, created cribs, and constantly referred to them. Many years on, and I have only recently understood how to set up photo folders, and attach pictures to emails. Countless hours spent in trial and error before this PC, have resulted in me reaching a basic level of computer skill that most ten year-old children have already far exceeded.
But I have been writing a blog for almost four years, so I must know something about computers, and how the blogging platform works, surely? Well, not really. I have barely scratched the surface of what can be done on WordPress, Twitter, or Google +. I still don’t know how to schedule a post to appear when I am not around to press publish, and I have no idea how to arrange several photos into small boxes, or place them on different parts of the blog page. I am still unsure how to embed links, without using the whole cut/paste method. After all this time, I make a lot of mistakes, and find it just as hard to get to grips with computers as I did when I first saw one. When I have thought long and hard about giving up blogging, it has not been because I find writing difficult. It has been from frustration at my lack of understanding of computers.
As far as blogging goes, I have discovered a few things about it, at least as far as the WordPress blogging platform operates. These may be of some use to new bloggers, or those still struggling to get the best from it, like me.
1) If you add a photo or graphic to your media library to use it in a post, don’t delete it. If you do, it will disappear from the post, rendering what you were writing about meaningless. You have to keep them. They add to your allowance, but unless you consign the whole post to the trash bin, you have to retain them in the file. Make sure to check that allowance too. A lot of photos can suddenly eat into it, and you can go from 2% to 30%, in the blink of an eye.
2) If you re-blog something from another blog, all the images from that post will also transfer into your own media library, as if by magic. If you delete them, they will not appear on your re-blogged post, but the original will not be affected.
3) Add video links from You Tube, or similar sites, and they generally appear on the blog post as you intended. However, they are constantly monitored by the originators, and are frequently removed by them; or by You Tube, or by holders of copyright. Your video link becomes a grey blob on the blog post, sometimes containing a warning, if clicked on. This means that you have to constantly review and update any video links; delete the old one in the edit screen, and find a new one to replace it. When you post a lot of film and music clips, as I do, this housekeeping is a necessary and regular chore.
4) If you use images from websites and other sources, it is advisable to credit them with the original image. Copyright is a minefield, so if in doubt, don’t.
5) Play around with free themes. So many bloggers (myself included) stick with their original choice, and are generally oblivious as to whether or not it really suits what they have developed their blog into. On the menu, choose ‘Appearance’, then ‘Themes.’ Look down the list available (there are lots) and the free ones are clearly marked. You can preview the new theme, with your own blog content instantly inserted. If you don’t like it, choose another one. Should you decide that you prefer your original theme, no harm done. But a change is a good as a rest, so the saying goes.
So, just five tips. They will no doubt be laughable to those who see this sort of thing as second nature. Each one of them baffled me though, so if only one person is saved from hours of blogging frustration, I hope that it helps.