Category Archives: Handy Tips and Advice

Secret Santa round-up

We decided to have some festive fun at The Adoption Social and we organised (Vicki organised) a Secret Santa. Our version found bloggers, who wanted to be involved, gifting a guest blog post to CYMERA_20131211_155809another blogger.

All the names were placed in a hat (vintage glass bowl) and picked out at random. We were all then notified who we were writing for and asked to create a post, something written or a picture, to gift to this blogger. The Adoption Social (Vicki) coordinated it all and once all the posts were in, they were sent to their recipients.

All the posts will be appearing on the participating blogs this week. So to help you all enjoy our little bit of festive fun, we’ve provided you with a link to all those who have taken part. The links will take you to the post, if already posted, or the blog main page…

Enjoy…..

On The Road To Adoption

Suddenly Mummy

The Puffin Diaries

Adopt & Keep Calm

3 Pink Diamonds

Sally Donovan

2 Mums, 2 Kids?

The Boy’s Behaviour

Mo & Bro

Getting There

Dear Daughter

Adopting Safe Mummy Ways

3 Bees and a Honey

Travels With My Son

Grey Street

Last Mother

We hope you like reading them as much as our bloggers enjoyed writing them…

Adding a badge to your Blogger/Blogspot blog

Last week we posted about Adding a badge to your blog on WordPress, but we know some of you use another common blogging site/platform – Blogger or BlogSpot.
Here we’ll give you instructions on adding a badge to your Blogger blog, both within the text and as a separate badge in your sidebar.

Commonly badges are used by linky hosts to help advertise the linky – if you include it on your blog it shows which linkys you take part in, and embedded in the code (the bit you paste onto your site) is usually a link back to the host site so it’s easy for your readers to visit the linky.

Adding a badge within the text of a post:
Sometimes it’s easiest to add a badge at the end of a post. This is especially useful if you take part in a variety of linkys and don’t want to clog up your sidebar with them all. You can just add it at the end of the post you’re linking.

In blogger, I think most of us write our posts in ‘Compose’ view. This is where we can easily change our text to bold, alter the size, add in links etc, and is also commonly known as WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) view. However, in order for a badge to do it’s job i.e. link back to the host, it needs to be written with special code, this is called HTML. So to add a badge to your text, you need to change your view to HTML and this is really really easy to do: Get HTML view

See!

So you’ve just clicked on HTML. If you’ve already written your main post, you might see it’s got some funny <tags> around it – that’s just where you might have hit return, changed the font etc.

Beneath it all, paste the code from the host site. It’ll look like this:

pasted code

But if you click back onto ‘Compose’ view, it’ll look like this, which means you’ve done it correctly. Finish writing your post as normal and hit publish!

Screenshot 2013-12-04 17.54.18

Adding a badge to your sidebar:
Adding badges to your sidebar is great if you regularly join in with the same linkys. It keeps them all together, and saves you from pasting in the code each time you write a post to link up.

4 simple steps, with images below too:

  • Click on ‘Layout’ in your Blog’s dashboard. On the left there.
  • Click on one of the links to ‘Add a gadget’ depending on where you want the badge to show – side, top or bottom.
  • Scroll down until you see a gadget called HTML/JavaScript, then click on the blue cross by it.
  • Give it a title and paste in the code. Hit save. That’s it, view your blog and you should see it.

Adding a badge to your sidebar

Hope you find that useful, but do get in touch if you need any more help…

 

 

Adding a Badge to your WordPress Blog.

 We often get asked how to add our badges so here’s the solution……

MBbadgeIt is common for blogs that do link ups to provide a badge for other bloggers to add to their sites or posts. These badges promote the link up and allow readers to link through to the host blog of the link up. Here I will show you how to add these badges to either the bottom of a post or into the sidebar of a WordPress site…

 

Within a Blog Post

If I join in a link up I often add the badge at the base of a post. Firstly because it is an instant recognition for the reader of where your blog is linked too and secondly, I don’t like my sidebar to be full of link up badges that I only occasionally join in with.

First Copy the badge code from the host site, usually in a text box in a post or in the sidebar, see below.

AddingBadge3Then in the Edit Post mode of your blog change the content setting from visual to Text in the top left corner, shown below.

AddingBadgeOnce in text mode you paste the code into the position you want it in the post, as I said often for me this is right at the end.

When you save your post and view it, the badge should be there.

In the Sidebar

Again copy the required badge code from the host site.

From your dashboard on your blog, select Appearance and then Widgets.

In the centre of the screen are a number of labeled boxes. Find the one labeled text.

Click on this box and drag it into the right sidebar, as shown below.

Adding Badge2

Open the Text box and paste the code into the box.

Now when you view your blog the badge should appear in the right sidebar.

Remember you can move the box around in the sidebar to position it between any other widgets you may have.

Hope this helps.

How to schedule posts on your blog…

Today Vicki from The Boy’s Behaviour shows us how to schedule a post and suggests a few reasons you might want to…

Both Blogger and WordPress both give you the ability to schedule posts – have you ever used it?

Here on The Adoption Social we schedule posts most of the time. Because we try to have something new every day of the week, scheduling helps us plan and see what we have going live and when, and helps us identify gaps in our planned posts. It also means we can let our contributors know when their post is going live. And of course it means that for timebased posts like The Weekly Adoption Shout Out we can exploit the full length of time that a linky is open for.

On The Boy’s Behaviour I sometimes find that I have a bit of spare time so write a few posts in one go and can then schedule them to appear throughout a period of time rather than flooding my blog and my subscribers with several posts all in one go, then having nothing to post for a few weeks.

So how do you do it?

On WordPress:

Write your post as normal and then head over to the ‘Publish’ section at the side. Click on ‘Edit’ beside Publish Immediately:

scheduling posts 1

scheduling posts 2

Here you can change the date of publication, and the time too. Click OK afterwards and if your post is finished, hit PUBLISH as usual. It’ll get queued in you ‘All posts’ section and will automatically go live when you have set it to (just make sure it’s set as published, and not just draft). It’ll have a note by the end to show it’s scheduled and on what date.

On Blogger, it’s not much different…

Once you’ve written your posts, go to the Post settings section on the right. Click on Schedule and then select ‘Set date and time’.

Scheduling on blogger 1

 Then you’ll see a calendar where you can change the date information:

scheduing on blogger 2

That’s it. Once you’ve hit DONE it’ll appear in your list of posts with a little note by it to let you know the day and time it’s scheduled. It’ll automatically appear on your blog at the time and date you input.

If you’re signing up for our Secret Santa then you might find this useful – when you’ve received your gift of a guest post, you can add it to your blog and get it scheduled for the week it’s due (week beginning 16th December) then you won’t have to worry about remembering to add it!

And as always, if you need any help at all, do email us at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com or leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help.

Secret Santa fun on The Adoption Social

  xmas gifts 1

I’m going to mention a word in a minute. I’m giving you warning because I know some of you don’t like to think about it too far in advance, so if you’re not quite in that festive place yet, look away now…

CHRISTMAS!

It’s fast approaching and here at The Adoption Social, we’ve been thinking about ways we can include a bit of festivity in our blogging. So we’re going to host a Secret Santa. No, no don’t worry we’re not asking you to buy gifts and send them to strangers, we’re going to ask you to use the skills we know you already have – your writing skills.

This is the first time we’ve done something like this, although it’s a sort of extension of the linkys we already run – The Weekly Adoption Shout Out and Memory Box. Part of the reason we encourage the use of social media tools for support is because at times we’ve personally felt isolated. We’ve struggled to find people who share the same challenges and feelings. Some of us adoptive parents have felt unable to work because we’ve been needed at home full time. So this, we hope is another way to get involved and find new support and friendships.

We also feel this is a great way to share posts from all sorts of people who are connected to adoption, whether you’re an adoptee, a birth parent, a social worker, other professional, extended family or an adoptive parent.

Just like any normal Secret Santa, we’ll pick two names – one as the writer and one as the host. The writer will write a guest post about something adoption related, and the host will feature it on their blog, linking up to WASO too if they want. It could be a full written post, a photo or a poem, just make sure you include your blog details somewhere so your host can link back to your blog. Once we’ve picked names out of a hat, we’ll let you know who your host will be, but we’ll keep it a secret about who’s writing for you…

If you fancy joining in and having a bit of festive fun, then add your blog details below – just like our other linkys (if your email address isn’t clearly on your blog, please drop us a line with it in too). It’ll close on 1st December, so make sure you sign up now if you want to join in.

We’d like the posts to be featured during the week beginning 16th December, so ask that all of your posts are sent to theadoptionsocial@gmail.com by Friday 13th December at the latest so we can send them onto your hosts.

We know lots of our readers don’t blog, but if that’s you and you still want to get involved, then drop us a line at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com to talk about other ways you can join in – perhaps you could write a guest post for us here on The Adoption Social, or we can share a festive photo through Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook for you.



Comments on your blog – and why they’re important

If you think about why you write a blog then I guess some of you would say you do it to record a journey.
I know that when I started my blog it was just for that. I had no idea if anyone would read it, and I didn’t really mind whether they did or didn’t. I just wanted somewhere to empty my head. I suppose I could have done that in a text document, and I’m not sure why I chose to publish online, but I did, and from the very first connection I had with someone on my blog I was hooked.

Out there *points to the internet* are thousands and millions and lots of blog readers, and some of them find what you *points at you personally* write about very interesting. Very very interesting. Which brings me onto the subject of comments – those people who find your blog interesting will sometimes want to tell you just how interesting your writing is! They might want to empathise or sympathise with you. They might want to connect to you to feel less alone. They might even want to disagree with you, but whatever the reason, they can only do that if you allow comments.

I think most of the adoption blogs I come across do allow comments on their blogs, but I just wanted to reinforce why this is important. Something else to consider is how easy it is for people to comment – I can certainly understand why some people don’t comment if they have to set up a new account before they can leave a message, the simplest ways for me to comment are by using my blogger account, my wordpress account or by entering my name/email address. So have a think about those issues if you’re considering whether to allow commenting on your blog or not.

The other thing about comments is that they are a useful way for you to respond to your readers too. I know we’re all busy but a quick 5 minutes a day will allow you to reply to any comments you’ve had on your blog and this is a really useful way to build up dialogue that can then be continued via Twitter, Facebook or email. And your readers will be able to develop a relationship of sorts with you. They’re more likely to come back and read your other posts if they’ve had some kind of conversation with you before.
And to be honest, it’s plain old good manners to reply to those who have been kind enough to comment on your blog,

Here’s a shot of one of our most commented on posts – and in this case, the writer responded to all the comments received too, helping her start to build relationships with people she’d not connected with before:

lots of comments

For me, the stats are sort of important – probably more addictive than important if I’m honest. The real test of whether your blog is interesting and engaging is whether people choose to comment on your posts. So bear this in mind when reading other posts too – if you’ve found it interesting, informative, whether you agree or disagree, let the blogger know by leaving a quick comment.

If you need any help with comments and setting them up on your blog, then do drop us a line. And if you’ve got anything to add to this post – then leave a comment below!

Making Twitter manageable

Time to talk Twitter – and how to turn it into bite-sized chunks!

It’s a bit overwhelming sometimes isn’t it? You’ve got a couple of hundred followers, maybe more and in turn, you’re following another couple of hundred and your timeline is stacked full of tweets that – although you want to – you know you’re never going to be able to keep up with.

And then there are those odd days where you might not want to see a load of adoption related tweets – you’ve opened up Twitter for a bit of light relief and just want to see a few giggly tweets from your favourite comedians.

So, how can you a) keep up, and b) filter out tweets (and tweeters) for a bit?

Lists

No, no, you don’t have to sit there with a paper and pen (thought you can if you want) to make a list of your favourite tweeters!
Twitter has this handy little tool that allows you to make online lists of people that you’re following – you can make one or lots, you can make them private or public.

Finding the list section on Twitter

Log into Twitter. Click on the settings icon in the corner and you’ll see the drop down list appear, then click on ‘lists’.

How to find lists

If you haven’t set any up yet, there’ll be nothing here, but you can see that so far we’ve set up 3 lists on The Adoption Social’s account.

Getting organised

So, have a think about how you want to organise your Twitter feeds. Perhaps you have favourite tweeters….you could put them in a list. Perhaps you want to keep all your adoption related contacts together, so set up a list for them. You might want to put all your blogger friends in another list, or even family members in another.
This is whether the public/private thing comes in. If you don’t want the world knowing who is related to you, then I suggest you set a family list as private. If you’re setting up a favourites list, but don’t want to offend everyone else who isn’t your favourite, you could set that up as private too. Your public lists can be seen by other people so just be aware of that.

 Setting up a list

In the image above, can you see a button called ‘Create List’ above our list titles? Click on it.
You’ll see this:Creating a new list

Here you can fill in the details of the list. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Once you’ve hit ‘Save list’ it’ll appear in your list of lists.

Then you can set about adding members to it.

Adding tweeters to a list

To add people to a list, click on the list title. Here you’ll see a search box and you can type in the names of the tweeters you want to include. I find this a bit fiddly, and tend to forget people.
So I do it via the ‘Following page’. This is the page where you can see all your followers and you can select a list for each and every person (if you wanted), or can easily scroll through and add the right people to your lists.Adding to your list

This is what your following page looks like. Click on that little person icon, then ‘add/remove from lists’. The following page

From there you’ll see a pop-up box and you can select the tick boxes beside the list you want to include that tweeter in.

You can do this for every single person you follow if you like, and categorise them into one of a number of lists, or you can just add to a few important lists. Then when you log into twitter you can either view your whole timeline, or you can view just one or two lists which makes it all much more manageable.

Do you think you might give it a go? If you need more help, then drop us a line we’re happy to help.

Encouraging contact via your blog

Have you got an email address on your blog? No, here we tell you why you should consider getting one…

I can’t tell you the number of blogs I visit, find really interesting, consider following on Twitter or Facebook, then come away disappointed because they’ve not got a Twitter or Facebook account, or at least, haven’t included the details on their blog. It’s so easy to tweet someone to ask a question, or message them on Facebook with more info/links/questions etc. However, I can live with it, because I know not everyone finds those platforms easy to use, or is comfortable doing so.

But what’s worse, is when I can find no way at all of contacting the blogger.

Sometimes, I want to write something a little more personal than I’m prepared to leave in the public comments, sometimes they don’t even allow comments, sometimes I want to ask questions about the post they’ve written, sometimes I want to invite them to write on The Adoption Social, there are plenty of reasons…but I can’t find an email address!

If this sounds like you, then I’d urge you to add some kind of contact information on your blog. If I can’t get hold of you, then neither can other people – PRs, the press, organisations who can help/support you, organisations who want to work with you and other readers for example.

I understand that you might not want to share your personal address with the world, and yes, it really is the whole world. But setting up a free gmail or yahoo email (other free email providers are available) address is very easy, quick and simple. And you can make it semi-match your blog – ourfantasticadoptionblog@gmail.com or adoptionapprovalprocess@gmail.com, just use your blog name or a variation of it.

I understand that you don’t want even more emails to have to deal with. But as long as you have an effective spam filter, you really won’t have to deal with LOADS more email than usual, and I can tell you that Gmail’s spam filter is very good. And if you do have heaps more email, it’s because you’re good at what you’re doing!

Perhaps you’ve just never thought about it, or thought it necessary to include contact information on your blog. If you’re not sure what else you could include on a contact page, then have a look at ours here for some ideas, and check out your favourite blogs to see what their pages look like.

But please, please consider setting an email address up and adding the details to your blog.

And if you are on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, MySpace, LinkedIn, Pinterest or any other social media site, please add a link to your blog page. They’re all new ways that your readers can connect with you, and more ways of reaching new readers too.

If you’d like any help with setting up your own email address, then please do CONTACT US.

Making Halloween Monsters using PicMonkey

Just a little Halloween fun…

We are big fans of the photographing editing site PicMonkey on The Adoption Social. So with Halloween around the corner we thought we’d just bring to your attention some of the fun seasonal features the site has to offer, and some of the spooky images you can create.  Plus it’s a brilliant way to disguise the identity of your children by turning them into zombies or witches, who needs pixilating when you’ve got monster morphing and masks of the living dead.

zombie

 Getting Started

Open the PicMonkey Site and then up load a picture you would like to work on, if you need some help with this see this previous post.

With your picture in place, click on the special themes icon, bottom left, depicted by a pumpkin.

Halloween

Here a column of themes will appear, on the left hand side, Zombie, Vampire, Witches are some of the themes available.

Select a theme and a number of headings will appear, costumes, textures, overlay, amongst others.

The most fun will be had experimenting yourself with these themes and effects, however I will give you just a couple of tips.

Using a Brush Effect

Some effects for example, bruising or adding different skin colouring, require the use of a brush.

Once you’ve selected this effect a small circle will appear when you hover over your photograph.

Once you have selected the colour or tone you wish to apply to your picture, click and hover the circle over the portion of the picture you wish to alter.

The size of the brush can altered by sliding the scale on the left hand side, this will allow you to cover only very small areas or much larger spaces. 

halloween1

 

Manipulating the Overlays

 When you add a spooky overlay, demon eyes or scars for example, you can move the item and change the size by clicking and dragging the small circles that appear on the white square that surrounds it.

Halloween3

You can also make your overlays transparent, so you can see you picture below, by altering the blend mode.
halloween4

So go and have some gruesome fun and if your interested share your pictures with the #PicMonkeyBOO and you could win a a free year of PicMonkey Royale premium membership. For terms of the competition take a look at their blog.

Here’s a couple more we did earlier, the children have loved playing with these special effects.

My little demonspooky bear

Linky love

Today Vicki demystifies linkys and tells you a bit more about the two that we offer here on The Adoption Social…

As I hope you’ll have realised if you’re a regular visitor to The Adoption Social, we love blogging! Sarah and I met through Twitter and blogging, and became part of an amazing community of people. If you look through our Me & My Blog section, you’ll see a number of other bloggers (and tweeters) sharing their stories about why they blog, and why it’s so useful to them.

bloggers

Blogging is appealing to lots of people and there are millions of blogs out there on all sorts of topics. Some people write for themselves, as an online diary not necessarily believing it’ll be read by anyone. Some people write to share with others and build up online followings. Some people write to reach out and connect with others.

If you want more readers or want to connect with more people, how do you do it?? Well, one ways is to join in some linkys. And they’re really much more simple than you might think…

A linky is essentially a list of links to blog posts. Sometimes they’re themed by content, sometimes by author, sometimes not at all. Sometimes they’re only open for a day, sometimes weeks. To take part in a linky you simply add your blog url (that’s the address in the top bar, which you can select and copy) into the form that usually appears right by the list of blogs. Sometimes they’ll ask for a title, your name and/or email address too.

Here on The Adoption Social we host 2 linkys:

BADGE7The Weekly Adoption Shout Out, also known as #WASO. Sarah and I initially set this up on our own blogs as a way of drawing adoption bloggers together, and getting a list of good reads in one place. This has been running for over six months now and is a weekly linky, live from early Friday morning to late Sunday night (GMT).
Every other week we offer an optional theme, but the only stipulation is that the post you link must be about adoption in some way. This linky closes, which means that after Sunday night you cannot add anymore links until the following week when a new linky starts.

All of our previous weeks are available by scrolling down here. You can still click on any of the links in them and as long as the post is still live on the bloggers site, you’ll be able to see it. We also set up a new board on Pinterest for each themed week, and pin all themed posts to it. In addition we try to tweet and share the link on our Facebook page to get more readers for your blog.

MBbadgeMemory Box is our other linky. Sarah’s idea with this linky is to provide a place for you to share the good bits, the celebrations, the triumphs – yours, your children’s, your parent’s. All too often we get caught up in the bad bits; the negative bits; the challenges and sometimes it does us good to focus on the positive as well as sharing and celebrating the achievements of others.
This is a fortnightly linky, which runs from early Monday morning to late Sunday night every other week. Like #WASO, it closes, and you can’t add more links after the closing time. This one is much more image based, and rather than just a list of links, you can choose a thumbnail image to accompany your link, hopefully enticing would-be readers to click through.

Again, all of our previous Memory Box’s are still listed here. Although we see this as much more image based – perhaps that’s all you have to share…not even words, we do recognise the need for privacy and security, so there are some tips here on obscuring an image if you need/want to.

It’s polite, blogging etiquette you might say, to go and read some of the other blogs that join in, and then leave a comment. And it’s this cycle of linking and leaving comments on other blogs that helps gain you new readers and more comments on your own blog. Thus the communities grow and you make new connections.

There are lots of other linkys out there, as a parent blogger I sometimes use:

My Best Post of The Week, hosted by Britmums
Magic Moments, hosted by The Oliver’s Madhouse
Wot So Funee, hosted by Actually Mummy
Post Comment Love or #PoCoLo, hosted by Verily, Victoria Vocalises
Prose for Thought, again on Verily, Victoria Vocalises
Oldies but goodies, hosted by 3 Children and It

You’ll see that most linky hosts have created a special badge. You can see our #WASO and #MemoryBox badges on some of those posts. You can then add the badges of those you take part in to your own blog  – helping the linky get a bit of advertising, helping your readers see the communities you’re part of, and helping your blog look a bit more colourful too!

So that’s a brief overview of linkys. If you need any help with adding your blog to a linky or a badge to your site, then do drop us a line or comment below – we’re always happy to help.
And if you know of any other great linkys, then do leave a note in the comments below so we can all take part.