Blogging reference guide and handy hints - text, links, images, video

Below are some hints to help you to blog on National Theatre Wales social network. At the time of writing a few people have written some posts, you can too.

The network is built on a system called Ning and the interface is pretty friendly. Some of this info is available on Ning's own help pages. But I wanted to give it to you directly and intersperse it with some general tips.

Blog?

Blog is short for "web log".

There are conventions and guidelines that work. But there are no rules as such.

An article on a blog is usually called a blog post or blog entry. Your blog posts are yours. Frequency of posting and length of each post are up to you. Content of your posts is up to you - whatever you think is relevant to the community of National Theatre Wales. Experimentation and sharing are encouraged.

It will take time to develop a "voice" that suits the community of National Theatre Wales. That applies whether you have experience of blogging or not. At the very least, do it for yourself and to clarify and articulate your own ideas. If other people read, comment or refer to you in their own blog posts then that's a bonus.

My first post

To write a blog post:
1. log in to NTW network
2. click "Blogs", the big button at the top of the main screen
3. click Add a New Blog Post
4. Fill it in

If it's your very first blog post, just get it out of the way. It's rarely an auspicious occasion. It's a seed from which you're growing something. Just write "hello world" or something, the insights can come later. You can set the access permissions per blog post.

Each blog post has a title which can be important. Again, no rules but it's a good guideline to make it a summary of the entire post. Your post might be in a Google search result list, a feed subscription or an activity stream on the NTW site itself.

Use tags to add related keywords to your post. It will make the post more find-able later. When someone clicks a tag, it will give them all the posts with that tag - from the entire pool of the posts they can access.


Text formatting buttons

Bold, italic
Just like a word processor. The only difference is you'll see a tiny bit of HTML code appear.

Underline - don't use this because it's a bit confusing. Underlined text looks like a link and isn't.

Strikethrough - not just a gimmick. It's handy if your post has been live for a few days but you need to come back to fix a factual mistake. Don't confuse readers by editing the post by stealth and trying to look perfect. Use strikethrough to own up to it! (Another convention is to write "UPDATE" if you have more to add to an existing post.)


Links

Links help people see your references and thought processes. Be generous.

If you're referring to a specific webpage or somebody else's blog post, then try and "deep link" directly to that post.

The visual cue of the link is enough - get to the point with your link text. Usually there's no need to say "click here for x" or similar. Even if your reader doesn't click them, links also highlight key portions of text.

To add a link
1. highlight some text
2. click the hyperlink button (it looks like chain links)
3. when prompted for the address, type or paste it in
4. click OK - some HTML code will appear

"Cover what you do best. Link to the rest" - Jeff Jarvis

Images

An image can support a blog post. It can even be the sole basis of a blog post.

You can upload an image. You can also link to an image already on the web (but make sure it's an image you control or hosted on a public library such as Flickr, otherwise it's considered poor form to just use someone else's hosted image - not just for copyright reasons but because you're using their hosting).

To add an image
1. click the image button (it looks like a camera)
2. fill in the form as appropriate

Videos

For blogging, people have a lower expectation of video production values online. Roughness and spontaneity can be good.

Adding a video is a little different to adding images because we do not host video directly on National Theatre Wales website.

To add your own video:

1. upload it to an online video hosting service such as YouTube, Vimeo or Blip.TV

2. find the "embed code" and copy it

Example: YouTube embed feature


Example: Blip.TV embed feature (you have to dig a little bit for this one)


3. paste it directly into the blog editor

You'll see something like this, but your readers will see the video player.


Alternatively, you might want to embed somebody else's video (usually to share something cool or make it easy for people to see what you're referring to). Just follow the above but skip step 1.

You should usually summarise the video with a suitable title and/or blog post text - so people know whether it'll be relevant to them.

YouTube is the most popular video site if serendipitous discovery is important to you. Other sites can offer higher quality. If your video is the stuff of legend and you have time then you can upload it to multiple sites.

That's it for now! Feel free to comment.

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