[SL] Blogger Support

Photoshop or not to photoshop that is the question

Spreekbeurt 2_001

Hello my name is inkie Loudwater from Holland First I like to  thank [SL] Blogger Support for letting me be one of the contributors on this blog. In advantage I say sorry for my poor English writing I have my spelling check on but that does not sort out all my  mistakes.

In the past view years the [SL] bloggers group and this blogsite has bin a never ending source  of bloggers  wisdom. For me  being an internet and bloggers noob, help was and still  is needed to navigate me trough all the steps needed to be a second life blogger. From windight settings trough the right place to shop and where to take the best pictures  you name it ,this group of bloggers always come trough on every question asked.

My first post is a “lecture”  about the Photoshop buzz.

When I started blogging years ago I never heard of Photshop did not  knew it existed, like I said noobish in start and still at heart. So I saw beautifull second life pictures and I was in oohh and ahh in admiration and I thought that were shots straight from the camara in to the blogs. I even felled  depressed that my pictures did not even came close to the wow pictures I saw around me.

Then some  second life photographers started to show before PS and after PS pictures on Flickr, on their blogs and on FaceBook. Duh!! finely I found out that publishing  ooohhh and ahhhh pictures is more then “snap snap” taking the pictures, it takes editing skills and patiance  as well. Thank you all for doing that it shows the power of the Photoshop tools and gave me the feeling there was hope for me to become better in presenting my pictures to the world.

Buying a photoshop program is not cheap and for me blogging on a budget not an option to get myself a new version. It took me some web searching but finely I got myself a free photoshop CS2  and I was over the moon so happy Thought this was it “the” magic tool that would lift my pictures to a higher level, to a level of awesomnes I had seen on Flickr and other blogs.

But.. when   it comes to editing pictures in photoshop I suck…..

All the turtorials in the world can not help me I am a PS basket case…..

When it comes to second life I  shop like a madd woman so my bloggers to do list is as long as my rl arm and because of my rl demanding job my sl time is on a budget 2nd : I am impatient I love to play dress up every day and taking pictures of every new outfit but working on one immage in PS is not really my cup of bloggers tea. So after hours of swearing and cursing behind my pc going trough PS turtorials I stopped trying and I only open my PS program to use the liquify tool to round up the sl square edges of my pixel Barbie.

To edit my pictures I use the free PhotoScape tool it’s very simpel to use so I can do my snap snap photos and when I am lucky I can do 1 post each day and still have time to shop some more. For all of you who are on a budget or don’t want to spent that much money on a photoshop tool here are some photo editing tools from the web for free. Some of them are an online tools so no download needed other are free as downloads.

Fotoflexer Very easy to use and very handy when it comes to add text to your pictures. It is on line free to use service so no need to download anything

PhotoScape This tool I use a lot to get more depth , to optimize  the lighting and to get a finer detail on my pictures. It is very users friendly even I can use it. You can download it for free and once in a while they are updating and renewing the features and when they do,they sent you an update you can download for free as well. Sasy Scarborough made a turtorial how to use this tool when it comes to making lay outs

Picmonkey No use of downloading this is an online service to edit your pictures. There is a payed more advantaged option available as well but the simple version is free to use.

Gimp GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring It works on many operating systems, in many languages. Type in Gimp on YouTube and there are many turtorials how to work with this program. There are even turtorials where  features you can use on Photoshop  can be found on Gimp. On the blogsite Through Salamander’s eyes more to learn about Gimp Free to download.

Pixlr A free starters option and a membership option with an online and a download option.

Ribbet Free standard options to use and premium features available as well in a premium account. For now the premium is free as well for a limited time.

IPiccy This free online  tool got a liquify option as well

Succes  editing your pictures and have fun while you shop until you drop.

P.S. For the credits where to shop  go visit my blogsite Pixel Styles

Getting Your Blog “Out There”

No matter the reasons we blog, we like to know that somehow, someway, we’ve connected with others “out there” in cyberspace. Even if you blog for yourself, it’s nice to know that someone, somewhere has read what you have written, to watch those view numbers climb, to feel proud of what you are contributing to whatever online community you are part of. When it comes to Second Life, there are so many blogs and bloggers covering the same topics, products & events that it may seem daunting to get people to see what YOU have done.

So how do you promote your blog? How do you participate within an online community that has hundreds of bloggers and get people to visit your site? In my role as a contributor to the SL Blogger Support group, I thought that this is a topic that I could delve into and hopefully help fellow bloggers discover new ways to promote themselves and their blog that they maybe haven’t thought of to use before.Blogger Room - IdeasBlog Promo Idea #1: Join a blogger support group.

I thought starting with the obvious would be easiest. :) Here we are, all participants in a group that helps to promote each other, shares ideas and thoughts for post inspiration and most importantly just provides support for each other through kind words or maybe a little personal cheerleading. A group like SL Blogger Support is great for finding new friends with similar styles or tastes that maybe could develop into cross posting with other bloggers. Plus hey, early admittance to events anyone? That sure helps with getting a jump on spreading the word about an upcoming event or a new release.

Blog Promo Idea #2: Use other social media sites to advertise your blog.

Facebook, Flickr, Plurk, Pinterest, Twitter … the list could potentially go on and on. How many of us have a Facebook for SL? A Plurk account? We link our pictures through Flickr or pin them to our Pinterest boards. Make use of those social networks to help spread the word about your blog. Join groups on Facebook that allow you to share your posts, put a link to your blog in the description of your pictures on Flickr or on Pinterest, Plurk your new posts to your timelines… you never know where someone is going to see or hear about your blog so be social media savvy and post those links all over the place.

Blog Promo Idea #3: Apply to a syndicated feed.

There are several feeds that cater to Second Life blogs and bloggers. IHeartSL, Grid Syndicate, Blogging SL, Fashion Feed of SL … again another list that could go on and on. Check your favorite/fellow blogger’s sites, they will usually have some sort of list of where they are syndicated. Depending on the feed – there are different rules/criteria that you have to meet in order to be considered. Find the main page for the feed and you should be able to find where their ‘how to apply’ link is.

Blog Promo Idea #4: Participate in blogger challenges.

Every so often an SL blogger will come up with an idea and invite other bloggers to participate. Strawberry Singh has her Meme Challenges, Luna Jubilee had previously done a 52 Weeks of Color challenge, there was a Disney themed challenge at one point hosted by Natalie Oodles@ StyleMinions. While my latter two examples have been long done, Strawberry invites bloggers to participate at any time in her challenges. Sometimes the challenges are as simple as taking a picture like with the SL Bare Face Challenge. I, myself, am not aware of any new or ongoing challenges currently going on at this time – but that does not meant they aren’t out there. OR maybe come up with your own idea for a challenge and ask people to participate. It’s a fun way to see how creative people can be when coming at the same idea from different perspectives.

Blog Promo Idea #5: Find a niche that people will look to you to fill.

Find an idea or topic that you can return to in your blog posts that people will look at your blog to find when they are looking for an idea to use for themselves. For example, I recently started an “SL:On Location” topic within my blog. And so far it seems to be bringing people in to see where I am exploring in Second Life and in turn they will click on other posts in my blog and hopefully will return again when they see a new location post being advertised whether in Flickr, Facebook, etc. Maybe you could do creator interviews or a current events calendar type post, the ideas are endlessly varied. Come up with something you enjoy – you’re bound to find others that enjoy the same things.

Blog Promo Idea #6: Keep the momentum going.

I don’t know about you, but when I find a blog that I really enjoy I tend to check back pretty regularly to see what new stuff they’ve done. It’s a disappointment when you go back to see that the blog hasn’t had a new post in weeks or months. Now we all know how life can interfere with well… everything. That’s just how it works sometimes. However, barring any outside craziness, set yourself a blogging schedule and try to stick to it. Try posting twice a month, once a week, more maybe… but whatever your blogging schedule – keep it going. Your regular, reliable posting will draw people in and hopefully have them anticipating your next post.

Blog Promo Idea #7: Let creators/stores/event planners, etc. know when you’ve covered them.

Drop them a quick notecard with a link to your blog post that features their products or event. Just a nice little “I really liked such and such and so I put it in my blog. You can check it out here (put your link) whenever you get a chance. And thanks for making such awesomeness for me to share.” While you may not get any feedback, the point of this is that they know you’ve taken the time to share their hard work with others and hopefully will appreciate it. :)

No matter how you choose to promote your blog, it takes time – not only to spread the word, but also for the word to get “out there”. Don’t lose hope if it seems to take a while and remember – there are a lot of us out there in the same situation so just reach out, one of us will be around to help should you need it.

[NOTE: The credits for the pic in this post can be found here.]

Getting more out of Flickr – Part II

flickr part II

As promised in my Part I blog-post about Flickr,  I will dedicate this post about sharing your images, sharing other people’s images and why this could help you getting your blog in the picture without getting all the dramaz and accusations of ‘zOMG my work is stolen!!11!!’ and why you should consider letting others use your stuff.
For starters I will emphasize again I am writing these articles for bloggers, new and old, assuming said bloggers are already (somewhat) familiar with Flickr and use it to upload their imagery.  New bloggers and/or users of Flickr may find this useful as well, and even if you are not a blogger at all, it can be handy to know how rights (creative commons)  and sharing of your work, once uploaded and visible to the public ….works!

 Who, what, why?

It is good to realise many of the Flickr users are not bloggers. To keep it simple there are:

- People who share their daily SL via uploading snapshots directly to Flickr via their viewer
– People who take pics for the fun of it and later upload them, with or without processing
– People who upload post processed work, pics made in SL and edited with Photoshop (or the like) because they enjoy creating art and nice images
– Creators/designers/photographers using Flickr to show off their (new) products, work, without having a blog
– Bloggers without a blog! Huh? Yes, people using Flickr as their blog, with all credits and such in the descriptions of the images
– Bloggers using Flickr to either store the imagery for embedding in their blog and/or publishing them to showcase their work to the rest of the world.

And of course there is the group who fit in all or some of the above and I am sure there are many more reasons to use Flickr for your SL photos. (I will come back to the participation in communities/groups/events/contests and such in a next blog-post!)

So many uploaders, so many reasons..so many rights and rules…it would make your head spin, right?
Getting back to the topic and theme of this site, supporting SL Bloggers, I will focus on that group (bloggers), to keep things hopefully interesting and short.

There have been,  and still will happen, lots of dramas and cases of which people believed their precious photo/image was ‘stolen’ by someone. Of course, in a real case of theft, that is wrong and a no – go.
However, often this isn’t the actual case and I am going to try to explain why not. This blog-post will contain various screenshots to show some differences.

All rights reserved, so?

First. Flickr by default, when you create your account, sets the right to your work on ‘all rights reserved’. This basically means you have not given anyone permission to use your work in whatever way without your (written) permission. You have ‘all rights’ and if you see someone using it on a site, you indeed have the right to tell them to take it down.
Now.
I often use, in my blog, pictures of other people. Even ones with ‘all rights reserved’ and yet, I do it in a totally legal way, simply by using the options Flickr gives me with the ‘sharing’ menu.  I respect the ‘all rights reserved’ and never ‘steal’ images.
How?
It is all a matter of how the owner of said images has their settings for sharing enabled or disabled. See screenshot here, of my personal settings, as you see I have ‘ enabled’ the options for others to share my work via social media.

flickrsettings

This does not mean they can do whatever they please with my images, for that I have (per image) defined the rights as I see fit according to the common licences. Yet, even a ‘all rights reserved’ picture by me on Flickr, can be shared – ‘embedded’ in someone’s blog, on someones facebook, twitter – without legal issues.
The trick is: they can only share the original and it will ALWAYS link back to the image on Flickr. They do not download it first and then edit it and play with it and then blog it…no, they ‘embed’ the original one in their blog and when their readers click on the image, it will bring them to MY original on Flickr.
No stealing, no theft, no infringement, no dramaz!

flickrrestrictedsharing

Nope. No sharing! You can only use a link, that’s all!

flicksharingsafe

Some rights reserved, check if you want, but go ahead using the sharing options for embedding!

Why being a bit easier on the sharing?

Why am I so easy in letting others share my imagery on their blog/facebook/twitter?
Because:  publicity.

Also because: it is SL. It is, in my case, not RL art I have worked my ass off for. I make pictures in SL that I want to show off and share. The more it is shared, the bigger I smile. Simples!

So I willingly and knowingly give my images out for sharing. If you are particularly attached to your work, you can disable all this and nobody will be able to share your work but you.

In cases of photographers and artists in SL it makes sense, they may have their reasons to prevent it, but in case of bloggers…why? You want to show off, right?  Anyway, personal decision and I cannot tell you what is best for you. But give it some thought, specially since you can choose the options per photo you upload!
It is quite easy to see if you can ‘use’ ( I do not like the word use for sharing someones work) a picture on Flickr, via the ‘share’ menu. It will tell you exactly what you can and can not do with an image.
In some cases a picture cannot be shared at all, that is either because the owner has disabled all options OR: because the image is rated as Moderate or Restricted. Restricted (adult) images are by default not possible to share via blogs/facebook and such – so this is disabled by Flickr the moment an image has the safety filter on restricted.
Also. Don’t be an asshole and screenshot, download or snippet a protected image for use…THAT is considered stealing and it is bad form and not helping your reputation as a blogger.

Respect the options and use them accordingly and be polite, even if you do not have to, it never hurts to inform the owner of an image that you have linked to their work in your blog. In case you get a negative reaction and they tell you it was a mistake to have options open and ask you to remove it: remove it without discussion.
This goes both ways. If you see someone has shared your image in their blog, because you have the sharing options enabled and they use it the proper way: be proud! It is a perfect way to get your images to another audience and admit it:  it is cool someone thought your work was so good they displayed it on their site!

An example of an event-blogsite that embedded my Flickr images, just because they could due to my settings here. And an example of me embedding a picture by someone else in my blog here.
Which leads me to my final words of this long post: just don’t be afraid to share images of others on your blog. It can be a great way to deal with  the ‘bloggers block‘ as covered by Kitty, a way to show the same stuff but by different people and believe me: people will return the favour if they can. (example: ever considered embedding an awesome landscape-pic in your fashion blog-post, made by someone else of the location you took your pics? Just an idea….)

Flickrsafeallrights

Oh! All rights reserved, and no embedding but hey, sharing via FB and Twitter can!

Just be aware of the rights, don’t just download but only use the buttons that are available and do tell the owner, just because it is the polite thing to do.
Last but certainly not least, I will suggest you read the official website on creative common licenses, which explains how and what all the terms mean of the options about rights on your images:
http://creativecommons.org/choose/

My next post will be about groups, communities, captions and blocking.
For now : happy snapping and uploading!

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