Monday, February 08, 2010

How to make Blogger pages work for you

This post explains what you need to do to create Blogger Pages and how to make the new Blogger Pages function relevant to artists.

If you have a Blogger Blog you can now create static pages on your blog and have a top line menu of links to these - just like Wordpress Blogs do!

An example of how pages have been added to the Art of the Landscape Blog
Last week Blogger announced that Pages are out of beta and are now part of the normal functionality of Blogger blogs - see Blogger Buzz: Create Pages in Blogger By Sean McCullough, Software Engineer. The Google|Blogger Help pages also explain What are Blogger Pages and how they work.

Characteristics of Blogger Pages
Blogger pages let you to publish static information on stand-alone pages linked from your blog.
Blogger Pages are very similar to Blogger posts. Here's what's the same and what's different.

What's the same?
What's different
  • format (eg you can include images)
  • most of the funtionality
  • three views: compose | edit html | preview
  • you can edit the html
  • you can preview the page
  • you can choose whether or not to have comments or not
  • you can save as a draft while working on the content without needing to publish
  • Static (rather than dynamic). A blog updates as posts change but stays the same in relation to its static pages (unless amended)
  • no link function under the page title
  • no date function as they are not dated, they are static.
  • they appear to use the new format by default and there is no option to revert to the old format as you can for blog posts
  • new pages do not trigger the RSS feed to update your readers

Blogger pages provide a lot of scope to organise information about you, your blog, your art and anything else that you want people to know about.

How to create a Page in Blogger

This is what you need to do.
  1. Log in to your Blogger account (and go to relevant blog if more than one)
  2. In the Blogger | Posting screen, you can now see four tabs. The new one - inbetween 'edit posts' and 'comment moderation' is 'edit pages'
  3. Go to 'edit pages'.
  4. You can now create up to 10 pages. It's probably best to sit down and work out what pages you want to create and what sort of content they should have before you start. Basically it's a very similar process to creating a website.
  5. To create a new page click 'new page' . Note this is the ONLY place where you can create a new page. This will take you to a new page which looks identical to a new post. The funtionality and available commands appear to be identical.
  6. The Pages widget is similar to the blogroll widget. However it lets you add links to your pages in TWO places: either as tabs at the top of your blog, or as links in your blog's sidebar. Note that an automatic Home Page is created by the Pages widget. You can also choose to have no widget and then link to the Pages manually (eg by using a Text widget)
  7. In Layout | Pages choose whether you want the Pages widget underneath the banner heading or in the side column. Drag the Pages widget to the place you want it to be
  8. In Layout | Pages click the edit on the Page module to reorder the listing of static pages. Just drag the static page you want to move to its new home within the list.
  9. You don't have to show every static page in the menu. This provides scope for a double layer menu. You tick the boxes to indicate which pages should go in the menu.
Whoops! Watch out for..........

This is a list of the mistakes I made while creating my pages and ones I've identified as being possible problem areas.
  • ERROR #1: create a new post rather than a new page (out of force of habit) and then publish it thinking you've created a new page. The next stage is you sit there staring at the edit pages screen wondering where it's got to. Also why it hasn't appeared in the top line menu. That's round about the time you notice you've got a new post with the same title as your new page! I've had to delete two I published so far and three which I made in error but didn't publish! It happens because the default option is to create a post rather than create a page.
  • ERROR #2: Not sure what you want to do. If you are unclear as what you are trying to achieve before you start creating pages, you could leave yourself doing a lot of reorganising and editing of content later! Think about what sort of approach you want to adopt as well as what content you want to include. Remember these are static pages and probably work best for reference material rather than dynamic content.
  • ERROR #3: Fail to update. If you do use a static page as a record of your available art, don't leave the artwork on show as 'available' if you've sold it. Do make sure to create a new routine of updating the page when dealing with any purchase
  • ERROR #4: Using an ampersand (&) in the page title. Blogger Pages does NOT like ampersands in the page titles and you'll get a coding error next time you update.

It's possible to add Blogger Pages to Customised Templates for Blogger but you have to alter the template. See the explanation in What are Blogger Pages and how they work.

How Artists can Add Value to their Blogger Pages

There are two main ways in which you Blogger Pages can add value to your blog:
  • Recycling past blog posts. If your blog places an emphasis on information then you can improve accessibility and create extra traffic for your blog by finding ways in which you can provide an organised and easy access to past blog posts on a topic. I choose to do this yusing Squidoo lenses. What Blogger Pages does for me is provide a way for people to access those topic based 'resources for artists' sites quickly and easily.
  • Improving people's perspective of you and your work. Blogger blogs now have the scope to operate pretty much like an artist's website. In a way similar to the way people with Wordpress blogs use their blogs. See below for an explanation of how this might work.
I've used static pages in two different ways for Making A Mark and The Art of the Landscape and adopted different approaches to each.
About halfway through creating my pages it suddenly struck me that the addition of pages means that Blogger sites now have the potential to become mini websites. They remind me of the options available using Google Sites. (For those who want to have more than a blog but who don't want to pay a lot of money for a website, please note that I'll be doing a post in the near future about alternative options for creating basic websites.)

Below is a list of ideas that I came up with for static pages which are relevant to artists.
  1. an extended 'about you ' page. It could include, for example, your artist's statement. This is my Resources for Artists site for those who want to find out more about How to write an Artist's Statement (which you can now access easily via the Art Business page above!)
  2. Contact Me page. If you want a separate 'contact me' page, then this enables you to get round the limitations of the Blogger profile and also allows you to incorporate links to non-Blogger/Google websites.
  3. galleries: a list of galleries where your art can be found. You've got a lot more space to create an informative and attractive way of conveying information about galleries and how to find them. Think about adding in a Google Maps link.
  4. exhibitions: you can list all the places where your work is or has been in exhibition. For those selling their art this is a good way of providing additional assurance to potential buyers of your art
  5. art fairs: the same could be done for a schedule of art fairs you are attending. Put it up when you've got your schedule sorted and take it down again after the fair season is over
  6. available art: there's nothing to stop you creating a gallery of all work currently available for sale on a static page. You can include links to past blog posts and/or links to where the art can be bought and/or paypal 'buy' links. (Note: I've not tested this but I'm suggesting it on the basis that the funtionality looks to be identical to blog posts)
  7. an individual page for each type of art: you've got scope to create a page for each of the main types of subject matter that you paint (eg landscapes, portraits, still life)
  8. Workshops: to announce details of any workshops and classes you teach
  9. tips: This is shorthand for having a page where you provide a summary of your approach to how you create your art. There's scope to have an extended work in progress demonstration or to include videos. You could also highlight those past blog posts which you think might be helpful to other people
  10. networks: you can provide a list of where you can be found on different social networking sites. This could be provided on an About Me page - but those using such a page for an artist statement might well prefer to list their network sites separately.
  11. links: Alternatively you might want to list those sites which sponsor your art or you wish to support - such as your local art supplies store or your very reliable online supplier. I recommend keeping it personal and making any links you highlight ones which are recommendations about the sort of sites you support rather than some sort of webring/reciprocal link arrangement. The latter have a lot of potential to look unfocused, can be very boring and could look unprofessional as well. Think about who you are doing the site for.
Improvements I'd like to see
  • The limit of 10 pages is in one place only. I'd like to see an option to be able to split the 10 static pages between a top line and modules in the side column
  • Custom made templates for different types of blogs would be good.
  • 10 static pages are nice, more would be even better
  • Most of all a gallery type function for images (as pne would normally get with a website) would be excellent. _________________________________________________
Do you have any ideas as to how you will use Blogger pages and/or comments on this new functionality


The Art of the Landscape


Unknown said...

Thank much to think about but glad you outlined it for us so well. I can't imagine how you do this all and still find time to paint!

laurghita said...

I already make a page and the content is somehow auto-updatable.
If I put a label "Best" on a new post that post will be listed there.

Jeanette Jobson said...

Oh yes!

And oh no......more work to do!

But great to have this addition, thanks for explaining it in your usual clear way. I love your analytical brain. :)

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thanks for the update! I didn't even realize that "pages" was in the works. It's nice to have this additional functionality to Blogger.

Erica Spinks said...

Thank you for such a straightforward explanation of this new feature. Can you please tell me the name of the Blogger template you use? I like the width of the screen.

Earthula said...

Thank you for all the information you provide, research, and explain!
Your work on these websites is always an educational inspiration.

Making A Mark said...

Glad you all liked the update. I quite enjoy writing these pieces as it always makes me think whether I am using the funtionality to best effect. I actually went back and changed a few things while writing this post!

Making A Mark said...

Erica I'm using the Minima Stretch template. I just change the colours and add in a few extras to the template for things like coloured quote boxes but other than that the width is wholly down to the stretch template

What I have done is reduce the depth of the banner at the top to accommodate the extra line of tabs without pushing content down the screen. If anybody wants more info on this I could write another post.

Unknown said...

@ Katherine. Interesting.I've used to create my website. Does this mean that Blogger will have the same functionality & adaptability? I have a page with a gallery & thumbnails of my work. Would blogger be able to do this too? Heres a link to my word press website/blog:

Wen said...

Great info and suggestions. Gotta work this up! Thanks

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