[SL] Blogger Support

Getting more out of Flickr – Part I

Flickr I

First, before I start rambling,  I want to say I am honoured and pleased to be one of the new contributors on SL Blogger Support.
In a nutshell:  ‘Hi I am Caity (caitlin.tobias) and I am an explorer, a wannabee fashionista – but sticking to exploring and horsing around- , terrible builder, easily entertained, wine o’clock fan, SL Explorer blogger since 2010, RL blogger before it was even called ‘blogging’  and when it comes to social media I am more serious than one would perhaps expect. Also I am Dutch, so forgive me if I sometimes use some wrong big words! ‘

Anyway!
My first topics on this site will be about Flickr, some basics,  and how you can use it to increase traffic to your blog, how it can help you get your name (more) known and some do’s and don’t ‘s.  Since I have a lot to tell, this is part I, I will post a part II soon, to keep things short and digestible.
Also, I am in these posts assuming you, as an SL blogger, are familiar with Flickr and maybe even already  have an account.
(If  Flickr is a complete new word for you and you think this is of no interest to you or you are getting all cross eyed by this already, no worries, after this post you may want to have a look at it (www.flickr.com) and decide for yourself if it suits you ).

This is not the first blogpost ever written on the internet about Flickr, nor on this site. In the section ‘Blogger Tutorials‘, chapter ‘A Bloggers Marketing Tools‘ you will find an excellent article by Casja Lilliehook on the same subject. I will therefor not rehash what she wrote, all of it is still valid, but some years has passed and social media is an ever moving and changing world – the way we use social media changes constantly and so I will not cover Casja’s points but rather add some to it.

Why use Flickr?

Over the years Flickr has become the worlds largest site for storing and sharing images. There has been a shift in social media as a whole, every platform is getting more and more into visuals – like twitter now has the option to tweet 4 pics in one tweet, and if you are a ‘facebooker’ you will have noticed pictures and imagery/videos are outnumbering textual posts.  Social media is all about visuals (instagram, anyone?). It is also a fact that posts existing of an image, get more clicks than text-posts. Flickr has, in this context,  changed slowly, by its users, from a ‘database in the cloud’ to a social media platform with communities (groups), interaction (sharing images with a simple click) and a perfect site to share your  Second Life. I, for one, have met lovely people inworld via Flickr!
Naturally, Flickr is still also still the perfect database to store your images and in case of a harddisk burnout and you have no back-up (personal stupid experience here…) you know your pics on Flickr are still there! Another reason to use Flickr is, well in my case for sure, to use them as a cheaper option to store your blog-pics, rather than uploading them in your blog media library (I am a WordPress blogger and extra storage capacity, which I needed after some years,  for imagery is so much more expensive than using Flickr – free – and embed my images in the blog).
Flickr is also a great way to have your pictures shared, and you can share other peoples pictures too, but I will come back on that – and its specifics – in the next blogpost.

Flickr I

Your Flickr Presence

Your profile, that is covered in said blogpost by Casja: keep it updated, check it every couple of months!
Then there is your accountname, which could be different from the SL name you use (for all kind of reasons). If you want to use Flickr to support your blogs traffic it is important your Flickr account-name matches your SL name or your blogname, it is all about consistency.
I, for one, get confused when a blogger is ‘Jane.Doe’ in SL, has a blog named ‘Mindy’s Closet’ and a Flickr account named ‘Bella Edward’.
I would advise, to synchronise the naming of your online presence, Flickr included, as it helps you to get your name, and thus your blog,  remembered easily. This is also called ‘name branding’. Repetition of your (brand)name will get it known.

In Flickr you can change the original account name, as in display names in SL, and lots of people use that option.
It may be an idea to add your blog name to your Flickr name, e.g.: ‘Caitlin Tobias (www.caitlintobias.com)’, or a title, a shop-name, your nickname (my Flickr display name is: Caitlin ‘Caity’ Tobias, as most people call me Caity).
Give your Flickr display name some serious thoughts.
Really. The example of adding your blogs url, be aware it is not clickable..people will still need to copy/paste it and lets face it, they wont. But it does get your blog-name in the picture.
What you see often in Flickr is the adding to names of PSA’s (Public Service Announcements) like:  ‘thank U for the stars’, ‘So busy in RL but back soon’ , ‘On Holiday’ ,  ‘So so sorry but catching up’ and IMHO the worst ‘looking for sponsors’/’looking for stores to blog for’.
Let this sink in. It may seem a lovely idea to use your name to broadcast a message saying your are  busy in RL and you think it will explain people/store owners or others you blog for, why you are,  for a while, less active but…

The only way people will see this is :
1) when you post a picture or;
2) when you comment on or favourite  a picture of yourself or someone elses.
(or in case they actually check your account, but probably people will not go checking you when they are already following you, unless they are for some reason interested in your whole collection, the truth being: the avarage user of Flickr looks at their wall of people they follow and that is it).

So, it is kind of….silly, to add to your name you are “on holiday” , ” terribly busy in RL” while the only occasions people see that is when you are actually posting and commenting. It only raises the question:  how busy are you then?
Also, as it goes, you need to maintain that name-adding….I have often wondered about people being ‘on holiday’, ‘travelling so not online’ for over a year,  while they happily upload away on a daily basis.

The adding of being ‘so sorry but offline a lot’ (why sorry?!) and ‘looking for sponsors’ (eek, begging alert)…just don’t.
It makes you look sad and you display a misplaced sense of self importance.
There are other ways of letting people know you are occupied in RL or maybe you just have a blogging break for all kinds of reasons, and believe me…people will understand!

Last but not least:

* Create a ‘banner’ or ‘cover image’  for your own stream. The ideal size is not defined or found yet, many discussions on several forums are still going on, and it wil be a matter of trying out, but start with an image that has a width of AT LEAST 2048 pixels.
* Provide links to your Flickr stream everywhere you can: your SL Profile, your blog, your Facebook, Tumblr, Avatar Social Network, Twitter, Pinterest and whatnot! Everywhere you have an online profile, put the link in!

I will end this blogpost with the promise of more in next posts, that will be about sharing your own and other people’s images, cross-linking the whole enchilada in one go, including rights on that and how to avoid nastiness when using someone else’s imagery on your blog and why you should not get upset when someone does it with your pics.

For now: happy snapping and uploading!

Rendering Shadows: A Viewer Review

I am so pleased to have been invited to contribute to SL Blogger Support. It has been an amazing resource for me personally as a blogger and I am grateful for the chance to give back.

This post is not so much a tutorial, since as bloggers most of us know how to get shadows to render and behave in SL when we want to take photographs. One thing I have learned though, is that not all viewers are created equally and the look of shadows and reflections can vary quite a bit from viewer to viewer. So for those of you who are interested in getting down and dirty with some side-by-side viewer-shadow comparison, this video is for you. We will be taking a look at shadows in Firestorm, Black Dragon, and the Second Life Viewer.

I apologize ahead of time if my sound levels are a bit inconsistent…contributor’s nerves!  I also encourage you to view this video at full size in the browser window or at full screen.

http://www.screencast.com/t/dqcYX8U5t1Vk

 

SL:On Location – Autumn on Pigeon Island

Autumn on Pigeon Island - Creek

“Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.”

Autumn on Pigeon Island - Rid & FinnI was recently invited to be a contributor to the SL Blogger Support blog. \o/ As such I will be writing articles about blogging whether it be about locations for pretty pictures, about new events, ideas for blog topics, about why I blog, etc. This is the first of my contribution posts. :-)

One of my favorite things to do in SL is to find sims that are pretty or interesting. I received a group message from the creator of Vespertine a few days ago about Pigeon Island being all prettified for the Fall.  I didn’t realize she owned the sim when I’d done a post about Pigeon Island before. (You can see the “before” Fall pics here.) It is really beautiful there, with cute little areas for sitting and chatting. I love all the Fall colors and the pretty reflective creek the runs through the middle of the sim.

Taking pictures somehow feeds something creative in me. Landscape pictures gives me one such opportunity. Whether it be choosing a new windlight to use, or a specific angle at which to take a shot, or whether or not to put people in the picture I could spend hours taking pic after pic. While I may not be the one doing the actual creating of things or the designing of a sim, writing about them and sharing them with others also provides me with an outlet that lets me express myself, even if all I write is a few words. I think I have the tendency to write like I am writing a letter to a friend. I often write things that I find humorous as I write them. Although I’m not sure that my humor comes across all the time the way I intend. ;-p

I usually don’t do much in the way of editing landscape shots. With all the options in SL for photography, post-editing can be very simple or not needed at all. I want to learn how to use Photoshop to do more involved effects and editing, but I lack patience. (Ha! That’s a HUGE understatement.) I have an idea for a picture that has been poking at me and it will require that I learn how to use certain features. In my new role as contributor, learning something new will give me something to write about at the very least. Even something for others to laugh at when I start cursing like a drunken sailor.

But for now I am gonna stop talking and let you enjoy the pictures. And go take some of your own. <3

Autumn on Pigeon Island - Trails

Autumn on Pigeon Island - Bridge

Place to visit >>>

Pigeon Island

Music to explore by >>>

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

Opening quote by Elizabeth Lawrence

[NOTE: I did not include credits for the clothes Rid and I are wearing in one of the pictures above since this post is supposed to be about helping bloggers and not so much about the creators of items. That being said, I do have the credits saved here on my own blog.]

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