Saturday, July 12, 2008

How to make it easy for people to link to you - and how to sketch a cat!

Two topics today about how to do things quickly:
  1. How to make it easy for people to link to a blog post you've written - and send visitors to your blog
  2. How to sketch a cat in 30 seconds
30 second sketches of Cosmo # 1,2 and 3
pencil in sketchpad

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Make it easy for bloggers to link to that ace blog post you wrote.

To my way of thinking, if somebody has gone to the trouble of writing a blogpost which is worth sharing, then it's nice to try and use the correct blog post title when referencing it.

Easier said than done!

I don't know if it's Firefox 3.0 or Blogger or what - but I've suddenly found it's become really difficult to do something which I usually do all the time.

The easy way to reference the correct blog post title with an embedded html link

When I want to link to a post on a blog I try to always credit the blogger correctly by using the correct blog post title.

I discovered a while back that it was easy peasy to get the correct title with an embedded link by blocking the blog post title and then right clicking my mouse and using the copy function. I then pasted this straight into my blog and got the desired result - the correct post title with its embedded html link.

The BIG bonus is that:
  • there is no html to write,
  • no spelling mistakes to make,
  • it's all completed in 5 seconds.
  • it reads right and functions correctly
  • people are more likely to link to you because it's really easy to do!
  • you get more visitors to your blog because people have linked to you!!!
So why am I writing this post? Well, it seems like a lot of people don't realise just how difficult it is to reference one of their blog posts correctly. If I can't do what I've described above then I have to type out the title, write the html, find the URL for that blog post (if that's actually possible) and then block and copy it. Which is very, very longwinded way of doing things by comparison.

With some blogs it's always been difficult because there was no link embedded in the blog post title - usually those who don't have a date against their post. The solution for this is to block and copy the post title in the archives. However I then come across the problem that there are some people who haven't got a blog archive which allows you do to do this.

So here are the basic settings in Blogger for making life easy for people who'd like to send visitors to read your ace blog post!
  • Go to Settings and select Archives
  • On the "Archive frequency" select monthly. You only get blog post titles in the archive if you archive on a monthly basis. If you archive weekly you render all your blog posts completely inaccessible to browsers.
  • on "Enable post pages" select 'Yes' - this command gives your blog post title a unique URL. This means it acquires an identity as a web page and can feature as an individual URL site in Google etc. This is the really important one. As Blogger says
Post Pages give each of your posts their own unique web page, in addition to appearing on your blog's front page.
  • Don't forget to SAVE YOUR SETTINGS!
  • Go to Settings and select Formatting [UPDATE 6.45pm - I initially said "Publishing" by mistake - thanks to Julie for the query/prompt]
  • Find Archive Index date format and select the month (eg July 2008) from the menu. I don't know that you have to do this - but all the blogs which have archives which 'work' have this format.
  • Find Show title field and select Yes - this creates a title field in the window in which you draft your blog post. No title, no embedded html link!
  • Don't forget to SAVE YOUR SETTINGS!
You can check whether the settings worked by blocking and copying the post title. If it renders correctly with an embedded link then you've created the right settings. :)

How to sketch a cat in 30 seconds

How do you sketch a cat in 30 seconds? The answer is sketch a cat for 30 seconds.

If how ever you'd like to know how to sketch for 30 seconds and end up with something that looks remotely like your cat - read on!

How to sketch a cat in 30 seconds so that it looks like a cat is simple if you do four things
  1. Keep a sketchpad handy. I keep a sketchpad or a sketchbook next to my armchair and another next to my desk - dedicated to sketching cats, thumbnails and working drawings. When ever I see Cosmo, the perennial poser, sat on the table surveying the world at large though the window or sat somewhere I can clearly see his pose I have a go at sketching him.
  2. Don't give up sketching because cats move. Lots of times one or the other of my cats moves just as I start. I have sketchpads FULL of half a head, a bit of paw etc. Which is why I started practising getting an outline down in 30 seconds.
  3. Focus on looking at the whole cat. DO NOT DRAW DETAIL. DO NOT DRAW THE FACE. This is big picture/whole cat drawing. Just focus on really looking at what that cat looks like - as a whole. If you're focusing you're probably looking for at least 15 seconds and drawing for 15 seconds. Identify shapes which make the cat believable, mentally measure the size of shapes, notice changes in form. If having got your outline contour down in 30 seconds you can start to add values, volume and markings. The more you look the more you notice and the better your brain gets at remembering shapes as you draw. Also, don't be afraid about restating a line without erasing - it adds to the character of the drawing - just look at Cosmo's ears in the drawing above right!
  4. Practice. For some skills the only way you make progress is to just practice - again and again and again. As with most things, you improve your skills the more you do it. As you get better, you'll be drawing without looking at the page. Seriously!
If you'd like to see more of my cat drawings (and my cats), you can see them in the catnapping gallery on my website - although these took a teeny weeny bit longer than 30 seconds! More like 2-3 minutes!!


vivien said...

nice quick sketches :)

I agree - practice practice practice and it pays dividends when doing a longer more considered drawing as you gain so much knowledge of the attitudes and form and character by doing this.

Personally, I like the liveliness of re-stated lines - more vibrant and living than a neat clearly defined one.

and I must get my head round the links business

Cathy Gatland said...

I have the slightly squirmish feeling this post was aimed directly at me ;) -hope my links are working now! You have developed cat drawing into a very fine art - just beautiful, thanks for the tips on how to go about it... if I sit down with a sketchbook though, our cat invariably wants to sit on top of it!

Tina Mammoser said...

Sketch for 30 seconds. I love that! :)

I've double checked by Blogger settings just to be sure. And as far as Firefox 3 goes, my computer has been *very* weird of late. Even took it into the Apple Genius bar this morning. All is a-okay. So why does it keep stalling requiring a reboot? Found the answer the afternoon by watching my system resource activity - Firefox 3. It doesn't seem to be limited to Macs either, many Mac and PC people are downgrading back to 2. So far, no more reboots... just a heads up should you notice anything strange. (PS. I *love* Firefox, so it saddens me to pass on this info.)

Jeanette Jobson said...

Settings are adjusted, thanks to your information. Now I'm off to find a cat to sketch...or a duck or a pig or something...

laura said...

This is the most helpful advice about sketching a cat--or sketching anything--that I've ever read. And in only 4 steps!! Thank you: you make me feel I can do it!

eLIZabeth Floyd said...

Thanks so much for this post. I am finding the advice timely as this past monday I just started a new daily habit of sketching my abyssinian, Slim. She moves fast and will typically move the moment I start my sketch.

Great information like always!

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