Showing posts with label Blogger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blogger. Show all posts

How To Send An Email Newsletter Using Gmail

This is the second part of two tutorials about creating and using email newsletters. In the first tutorial we showed how to create your own email newsletter for free. In this part we'll first show how to send an email newsletter using Gmail, and then we'll look at how to use the newsletter if you're a Second Life resident but don't have a client base of email addresses.

Before going any further it is important to stress that you should never send an email newsletter without the permission of the recipient, and the newsletter should include an unsubscribe option. In many parts of the world this is stipulated by law, and by not adhering to this you simply become an annoying spammer.

Another point to keep in mind is, if your Gmail account is used to send over 200 of the same emails each day, Google will consider this spamming and will block your account. So, if you're a Second Life resident wanting to contact lets say 500 group members this will need to be staggered over a number of days. Other trusted management level members of a group can also be enlisted to send out the newsletter to cut down the time it takes.

If all this seems a chore, try to remember this is about keeping in touch with, engaging with group members, friends and clients etc, and keeping them informed which in turn creates loyality and respect. Just as importantly, whilst none of your competitors may be doing this, it gives you an edge.

How To Send An Email Newsletter Using Gmail

Follow the steps below to set up the newsletter template created in part one of the tutorial.

1/ Open Gmail and to the top right click on the cogs icon. From the drop down list select Settings.

2/ At the top of the page there will be a menu of headings. Select Labs.

3/ A list of options will now be displayed. Somewhere near the top will be a Canned Responses choice. Select the Enable radial button. The Settings page in Gmail can now be closed.

4/ Now hit the Compose button to the top left of Gmail as if you're about to create a new email.

5/ To the bottom right there will be a drop down arrow, highlighted in red in the image above. Click then select Canned Responses from the drop down list.

6/ In the small window that opens name the newsletter and click OK.

7/ In part one of the tutorial we used KompoZer to create the newsletter template. Open KompoZer with your newsletter template file loaded. In design mode select Edit > Select All.

8/ Back in Gmail, open the newsletter canned response and paste what was copied from KompoZer.

9/ Under Save (the text is quite faint) you'll see the name of your newsletter. Click it.

 10/ Now you'll be asked to confirm overwriting the template. Hit OK.

11/ Your newsletter template is now ready to use. Each time you want to open the template hit the Compose button in Gmail, then select Canned response and click the name of the newsletter from the Insert option. 

Each time the newsletter is used it can be edited to change any text and to personalise it with the recipient's name. However, do not click Save unless you want any edits to be permanent. Also, do not Cc the newsletter to multiple email addresses at a time because sharing someone's email address with strangers is an invasion of privacy. This would be a good way to lose customers, clients or friends etc.

Using Blogger As An Alternative To Gmail To Post A Newsletter

If creating a canned response within Gmail to send out your newsletter doesn't seem the best option for you, another approach would be to use Blogger as an alternative. As I mentioned in the first part of this tutorial, I send a newsletter response after I have added someone's blog to SL-Feeds. However, I have also used the newsletter concept to promote a David Bowie tribute event I organised in Second Life. 

Whilst a newsletter would typically have images and links to items you'd want customers, friends and clients to be aware of, the approach used to promote the Bowie tribute was to make the newsletter entirely about that one event. The top of the page shows a section of the newsletter, but how this works can best be viewed here.

This can be particularly useful for time sensitive events. Although some Second Life clubs have blogs, they're not often visited by patrons because people want information from webpages, (not images of avatars dancing etc). A newsletter page can therefore be a quick and easy way to highlight information about a Second Life venue and what is happening there in the short term. The newsletter can also be seen in world as media on a prim, and even be turned into a hud to be given to interested parties. 

For anyone interested in creating this kind of newsletter I have created a blogger theme for the purpose. It is essentially a stripped down blogger theme, that can easily be tweaked for your own use. You can download the theme here. Since its uploaded to Google Drive you can be sure the file doesn't contain anything malicious.

Using The Blogger Theme To Create A Newsletter

Firstly, create a newsletter template in KompoZer as described in the first part of this tutorial. Then follow the simple steps below.

1/ With KompoZer open and the template file loaded select the Source tab at the bottom of the window.

2/ Now you need to drag your cursor over all of the table code to highlight it. Make sure it is just the code for the table you select. Everything above the first <table> tag is not needed. Similarly, everything below the very last </table> tag is not needed.

3/ Once all the table code is highlighted right click and select Copy.

4/ The next step assumes you've already created a Blogger blog for the newsletter theme, but if you're not sure how to install a Blogger theme, this tutorial will explain. Its a very easy process.

5/ Create a new post in the newsletter theme blog then select the HTML tab towards the top left. Now paste the table code from KompoZer. If you now click the Compose tab you'll see the newsletter has been added as a blog post. Hit the Publish button to the top right and the newsletter is live.

If you would prefer to use a different blogging platform to Blogger this should be fine, so long as you can add the table code as a blog post. Thats all there is to creating your very own newsletter to distribute to your target audience. This is a novel way to promote items within Second Life and beyond. Being one of the first to use this approach helps to put you ahead of the game.
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How To Add Meta Tags To Blogger

Adding meta tags is an essential part of optimizing a blog for search engines, and therefore improving website traffic. The meta tags or (meta data) won't be visible to your readers as they're added to the Blogger template, but having them in place is important for the success of your blog.

There are three types of meta data; description, keywords and author. Whilst the description is most important adding all three types is pretty much the same process and can be done at the same time.

Since adding meta tags will involve editing the blog template, before starting download a backup just to be safe.

1/  First go the the dashboard of your blog and click the theme option (see above image).

2/ Hit the Edit HTML button to view the blog template.

3/ Now copy the meta data tags below:

4/ Near the top of the blog template in the header section there should already be a line of text similar to the first line above. delete that code and paste the above in its place.

5/ In the first line of the meta data (underlined in red above), replace 'Your description here' naturally enough with a description of the blog. Try to add something that summarises the blog well because it will appear as a fragment in search results and in Facebook and Google+ etc.

6/ In the keywords section, (underlined in green), replace 'Your keywords here' with the words that cover the subjects of the blog. It is important to remember not to add the keywords in the description section because search engines might block the blog as it could be considered spamming.

7/  In the section underlined in blue replace 'Admin' with your name. Adding your name to the meta data  is entirely a matter of choice, but it does help if you'd like it to appear in search results.

8/ Now hit the Save button on the template page and the meta data will be added to your blog, and with luck search engine results should be greatly improved.
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How To Hide Share Buttons On A Blogger Homepage

In a recent post I mentioned how to add share buttons for Second Life related social networks to Blogger, and I also mentioned in passing that not all Blogger templates hide the standard share buttons on the homepage. If this is the case with your blog, then this quick tutorial will explain how to hide the share buttons on Blogger, so that they only appear on a blog post.

Before making any changes to a template it is strongly recommended that you download a backup. If you don't know how to do this, then the earlier post linked to above will explain how. Now just follow these steps:

1/ Sign into Blogger then select Template then Edit HTML.

2/ click inside the template area, then hit Ctrl >f to bring up the search window. Now search for ShareButtons. You should see something similar to the above.

3/ Click on the black triangle to the left of the ShareButtons line to reveal more code. Place your cursor after the closing bracket of the ShareButtons line and press Enter to create a blank line.

4/ Copy the line of code below then paste it into the blank line you created.
 <b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == &quot;item&quot;'>

5/ Scroll down to the end of the share buttons code and you'll see it ends with '</b:includable>'. Create another blank line just above this and paste a closing
statement. Save your template and you are done. The share buttons should now be hidden from your blogger homepage and should only show on each blog post.

Hiding the Second Life Social Network buttons

If you have added the share buttons for the Second Life related social networking sites, you may want to hide these from the homepage too. To do so follow this extra step:

6/ Paste the code for the social networking buttons in the space you created for the closing '</b:if>' tag (the code can be found on the earlier tutorial linked to above). Now paste the closing '</b:if>'  tag directly after the code for the Second Life buttons. Save your template and all the share buttons should now only show on each blog post.

Editing a template can seem a little daunting, but so long as you have a backup of the original no lasting damage should be done, so feel free to give this tutorial a try.
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Share Buttons For Second Life Social Networks

Blogging about Second Life is a popular activity, especially for residents who have a defined interest in-world such as the arts, music and fashion etc. Along side this there are some prominent social network platforms that cater specifically for online 3D worlds, although for some reason it is not as easy to connect the two in the same way it is with, for example Facebook where share buttons are now part of the norm for any blog.

Although no platform owner has yet developed share buttons that enables blog readers to add their favourite content to these social networking sites, there is a work around. The idea is simple. Buttons placed are on a blog, much like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ buttons, and when clicked a small pop-up window appears so readers can quickly add the page to their Second Life social network site of choice, without leaving the blog. To get a better idea how these buttons work click on the ones at the bottom of this page.

There are two ways to add these share buttons to a blog. The first is the much simpler method of adding them to the sidebar and the second is to add them to the blog template where they will automatically appear in each blog post.

Adding The Share Buttons To The Sidebar

To add the buttons to your blog follow these steps:

1/ Sign into Blogger and then click on Layout for your blog.

2/ Drag your cursor over the following code then right click on your mouse and select copy.
    <th style='border:none: width:100%;'>
 <a href="#" onclick="'', 'newwindow', 'scrollbars=yes, toolbar=yes, width=700, height=600'); return false;" rel='nofollow'>
                        <img alt='Avatarbook' src='' style='padding-left:-5px; padding-right:3px' title='Share to Avatarbook. Opens in a new window'/>
<a href="#" onclick="'', 'newwindow', 'scrollbars=yes, width=700, height=600'); return false;" rel='nofollow'>
                        <img alt='Avatar Social Network' src='' style='padding-right:3px' title='Share to Avatar Social Network. Opens in a new window'/>
<a href="#" onclick="'', 'newwindow', 'scrollbars=yes, width=700, height=600'); return false;" rel='nofollow'>
                        <img alt='SL-Space' src='' title='Share to SL-Space. Opens in a new window'/></a>
                        <!--please do not remove this credit -->
<th style='border:none; padding-bottom:10px; font:10px Roboto,arial,sans-serif; color:#666; width:35%'>Created by <a href="">SL-Inspiration</a></th>
 3/ Now in the sidebar section of the blog layout, select Add a Gadget. In the window that opens select HTML/Javascript.

 4/ Another window will open and in the Content area paste the code, then give it a title if you wish to. Click Save, and the share buttons should appear on your sidebar.

 Adding The Share Buttons To The Blog Template

Before making changes to any blog template it is important to download a backup of the original, so it can be uploaded again later if needed. To do this:

1/ Sign into Blogger again and then choose Template from the drop down menu for your blog.

2/ To the top right of the template page click the Backup/Restore button, and in the Save window that opens give the template a meaningful name and hit Save. Your backup is complete.
To add the buttons to your template follow these steps:

1/ Sign into blogger, click on Template, then click the Edit HTML button.

 2/ Click anywhere inside the template window, and then hit Ctrl > f to bring up a search window. Use this window to find this line of code:
<b:include data='post' name='post'/>
As you can see from the example above this code can change from template to template, but search for something similar to the above.

3/ Now drag your cursor over the following code. Hit the right mouse button then select Copy.

                          <!-- SL Social Share Links-->
    <th style='border:none; width:35%; padding:0px;'>
      <a href="#" onclick="'', 'newwindow', 'scrollbars=yes, toolbar=yes, width=700, height=600'); return false;" rel='nofollow'>
                        <img alt='Avatarbook' src='' style='padding-right:3px' title='Avatarbook Opens in a new window'/>
                      <a href="#" onclick="'', 'newwindow', 'scrollbars=yes, width=700, height=600'); return false;" rel='nofollow'>
                        <img alt='Avatar Social Network' src='' style='padding-right:3px' title='Avatar Social Network. Opens in a new window'/>
                      <a href="#" onclick="'', 'newwindow', 'scrollbars=yes, width=700, height=600'); return false;" rel='nofollow'>
                        <img alt='SL-Space' src='' title='SL-Space. Opens in a new window'/></a>
 <th style='border:none; width:55%; font:11px Roboto,arial,sans-serif; color:#666; padding:0px; '>Share to SL social networks</th>
                        <!-- please do not remove this credit-->
<th style='border:none; padding-bottom:10px; font:9px Roboto,arial,sans-serif; color:#666; width:35%'>Created by <a href="">SL-Inspiration</a></th>
                          <!-- SL Social Share Links ends-->
 4/ If you want the share buttons to appear above each post content then paste the code above the line you searched for. For the buttons to appear below each post, paste below.

5/ Save the changes to your template and the buttons should now appear on your blog.

As all blog templates differ, it may be that your blog has more than one b:include data='post' name='post' line of code. If the buttons do not display in the correct place on your blog you may need to search for a second b:include data='post' name='post' in your template and add the share buttons script there.

 Displaying the Share Buttons Only On Blog Posts

Many templates will not show the standard Facebook, Twitter and Google+ share buttons on the blog homepage. If this is the case with your blog and you would prefer for the SL share buttons not to show on the homepage also, you will need to find the following line of code:
<b : include id='sharebuttons' var='post'>
1/ Once you have found this line you should see a black triangle to the left of it. Clicking it will reveal more code.

2/ Scroll down until you see this:
Paste the SL share buttons code after the closing </b:if>.

3/ Save the template and the buttons should now appear after each post but not on the homepage.

 A final Note

As we have already mentioned, blogger templates can differ and it may be that the buttons appear more clustered on your blog than they do below. If this is the case try tweaking the width percentages in the first two lines that begin with
<th style='border:none.....
Increasing the percentage will give more room to the line you edit, but keep the total of both percentages to around 90%. Leave the third <th style='border:none..... exactly as it is.

Adding buttons for Second Life related social networks is easier than you may think, and can help to increase not only your readership but also the exposure of your favourite  social platforms. If you like this tutorial then why not share it! Also, check out our new SL-Inspiration Facebook page...we appreciate each 'like' we recieve.
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How To Add A Random Page Button To A Blogger Blog

After adding a random page button to this blog and to another I help to run, The Chilly Bear  I was asked a few times how to do this. So in the hope this will be useful I have decided to write this tutorial on how to add a random page button to a blogger blog.

Creating the Graphic For The Random Page Button

Firstly I should point out I am not a scripter so I didn't incorporate the button graphic into the javascript, but used the work around described here. If anyone knows how the graphic could be embedded into the script please add a comment below.

To create the button graphic you'll need to know the width of the sidebar on your blog where the button will appear. To find this:

1/ Open your Blogger Dashboard and on the blog you want to add the button to, click on the small arrow to the right of the blog name to reveal the drop down menu (highlighted in red above). Select Template.

2/ Click the Edit HTML button to view the blog template. 

3/ You'll need to view the blog's CSS file which will tell you the width of the sidebar. If you can't see the CSS of the blog find this line towards the top of the template:
then click on the triangle by the template line number (see image above).

4/ scroll down the blog CSS until you find a line similar to the above. As you can see in this example the width of the sidebar is 312px.

All CSS files are different for each blog template, so the line may appear differently for you, but there should be a line showing the width of the sidebar for your blog.

Now the we know the width of the sidebar we can begin to create the button graphics. Open your graphics software, select New then for the width of the graphic enter the width of the sidebar, and the height you want your graphic to be.

If you don't want your random page button to take up the full width of the sidebar, start with a transaparent layer and centre your button when you create it. When you export your graphic make sure it has an alpha channel so the background remains transparent.

You can be as creative as you like with the appearance of the button. Since the Chilly Bear is a Second Life club and music themed blog the button I created for it is a record label, (the image at the top of the page).

Once you have created the button graphic upload it to an image hosting website, such as Photobucket. You will need the code for direct layouts later.

Adding the Random Page Script To The Template

To create the random page button you will need to add a script to your template. Before you edit your template remember to create a backup by going to your template page and clicking the Backup/Restore button to the upper right.

1/ Copy the script Below:
<script type='text/javascript'>
function showLucky(root){ var feed = root.feed; var entries = feed.entry || []; var entry = feed.entry[0]; for (var j = 0; j <; ++j){if ([j].rel == 'alternate'){window.location =[j].href;}}} function fetchLuck(luck){ script = document.createElement('script'); script.src = '/feeds/posts/summary?start-index='+luck+'&max-results=1&alt=json-in-script&callback=showLucky'; script.type = 'text/javascript'; document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0].appendChild(script); } function feelingLucky(root){ var feed = root.feed; var total = parseInt(feed.openSearch$totalResults.$t,10); var luckyNumber = Math.floor(Math.random()*total);luckyNumber++; a = document.createElement('a'); a.href = '#random'; a.rel = luckyNumber; a.onclick = function(){fetchLuck(this.rel);}; a.innerHTML = 'Random Post'; document.getElementById('mbl-random').appendChild(a); } </script><script src="/feeds/posts/summary?max-results=0&alt=json-in-script&callback=feelingLucky">
2/  Go to your template page and click on the Edit HTML button to view the template.

3/ Scroll to the bottom of the page and just above the closing </body> tag paste the script.

4/ Save the template.

 Adding The Random Page Button To Your Blog

1/ To add your button, go to the Layout page of the blog and Click on Add A Gadget for the Sidebar.

2/ Select a HTML/Javascript widget and paste this into the window:
<div class='box'>
<div class='random page'>
  <div id='mbl-random'/>
<style type='text/css'>
#mbl-random a{
  display: block;
width:width of the button graphic;
height: height of the button graphic;
background: URL(url of the button) no-repeat 0 0;
font-size: 0px;
3/ Replace 'width of the button graphic' with the width of your button in px. This should match the width of the sidebar.

4/  Replace 'height of the button graphic' with the height of your button.

5/ Replace 'url of the button' with the url for direct layout of the uploaded graphic.

6/ Click Save.

Your random page button should now appear on your blog


Because all templates are coded differently it may be that your random page button only appears on the home page of the blog. If this is the case you can make it appear on all pages by creating a widget for the button in the template.

1/ Open your template again and scroll down to where you see a line similar to the above, highlighted in red.

2/ Scroll further and you should see a search widget and as well as others, such as a social profile widget.

3/ Normally a random page button would be placed below these widgets, so when you scroll just past them add the following:
 <!--Random Page Widget-->
<div class='widget-container'>
<div class='random-button-widget'>
widget text
<div class='clear'/>
 Replace 'widget text' with the code you added to the sidebar widget when editing the layout.

5/ Save the template.

4/ Delete the widget you originally created when editing the layout.

Your random page button should now appear on each page.

Having a random page button on your blog can be very useful for bringing forward older posts that visitors may still find interesting, but were otherwise hidden among the numerous other posts you may have. It can also help to keep people on your blog for longer. If you find this tutorial useful then why not share it with friends.

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