Blogging: Blog printing

I year ago I started a new project, printing the family blog. At the time it looked like a quick enough project, convert all the 2014 posts into a book. Each post was fast enough, copy-pasting from the web to a word template. It did take me longer than I thought, and the result was good enough. Here are some pages:

Book 2014 - Example 1Book 2014 - Example 2

I was very happy with the result, but I wanted something better for 2015, and I wanted to complete the project early 2016 (I finished with 2014 the end of July 2015, over 2 months of work). To accomplish this I converted all previous 2015 posts into the Word format I was using for the book, and all new post where first written in the new format. Also, all images were added to the book in full resolution, the 2014 book since it was copied from the web had the images in a lower resolution. Also, the 2015 book is a bit more aggressive in the page design and flow: not all images from the web are included, smaller images, more attention to image collages, etc. Here are some example pages:

Book 2015 - Example 1Book 2015 - Example 2

I am very excited with the results from the 2015 book, and I feel that creating these books has helped me understand the importance of page flow and composition. I’ve also learned a lot about how to format well in Word and the importance of negative space (white on pages). It also ups the ante for the 2016 book.

Somethings that I learned with the 2015 book:

  1. The book file became unmanageable after 100 pages, because it was heavy with images.
  2. I had to stop writing directly on the book file, but rather wrote in separate files.
  3. The best way (so far that I know) is to write each post on a file, add all images and format the way you want it, then import the file to the book file. Importing is much better than copy/paste.

For 2016 I’m writing all my posts in separate files using the book template. I’m formatting each post to look as best as I can. I want to explore some new formatting and try to keep the look consistent across the whole book.

I created a Yearbook page (it’s in spanish) in the family blog to showcase these works. You can download the pdf or even order a book from Lulu.

Anuarios del blog

Have anyone else gone down this path of printing a blog? What have you learned from doing it? What has stopped you, if you’ve never printed?

 

*headline image courtesy of unsplash and Patrick Tomasso

More Blog Stats

I mentioned before that views are not the focus of my blog, but I do love stats.  Previous post on numbers.  July is the new record holder for page views, it get’s me excited, I try to only post twice a week when there are relevant things.

Our newest member of the family came en of June, so that has been no shortage of things to post in July. And thus it was easy to have 8 posts, all with high interest.  It’s been cool.

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What I want my blog to be when it grows up…

I’ve been looking at websites, blogs, pinterest and following links trying to find a good example of what I want for my family blog (FamMijangos.com).

I had some good guiding points, I mean there are some really good work out there.  I didn’t want the blog to be a product review site.  I didn’t want to be a soap box.  I truly wanted a family meet up.

Here are some place that I think are really good.

  1. 71 Toes (71toes.com):  This is a great blog that started with just a few posts.  As time went by the followers grew.  Shawni, the author, is a good example of constant writing.  I’m impressed by the amount of writing she does.  The site is also a great example of a simple setup and wonderful images.
  2. Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows (JocelynAndJason.blogspot.com): This blog is this persistent flow of good vibes.  I don’t read the posts, because I don’t think I’m the intended audience, but I’m sure the children and family members love reading it.  Jocelyn, the author, chronicles the adventures of her children.  She strives to capture the minutia that truly are the essence of our lives.
  3. The Anderson Crew Blog (theandersoncrewblog.com): This is a really cool site, minus the product placement.  It chronicles the lives of a family with several children, and the quirks and personalities of all the members.  I love the energy of the images, and wish I had a cool logo for my images, one day I want a watermark for my images.

I want to highlight a site I recently found, that really is what I want when my blog grows up:  www.laceymeyersphotography.com.  This is a great blog and great images, the theme is professional and modern.  All the images tell a story, but there is also a story behind the images, very cool.

I know that what I have right now makes sense, but at some point the blog will have to grow up.  I’ve talked to a few bloggers and it seems that around year 5-7 things really pick up; this is when the audience grows.  I’m only been doing this for a few years now, and my audience are my Facebook friends; maybe other people will find interesting my adventures, just as I found valuable these sites.  Only time will tell.

New Project: Printing my blog

A few days ago my wife was talking about a presentation she saw on printing blogs.  She thought that it would be a great idea so that we could have those memories in print.

Blog2Pring - ExampleI looked at several different companies that do automatic printing, pulling the blog and creating a printable PDF.  All the ones that I tried (Blog2Print, Sharebook, Shutterfly, Blurb) didn’t offer good control of how I wanted the book to look like.  Most created too many pages, figures since they charge by the page, the margins were too wide and there was no flow.

Lulu PostThen I came across this blog post, and this blogger’s experience with a site called Lulu.  She explains all the things you have to do to publish in their platform. This was the other side of the spectrum, you got a Word template and you have to pull in every post from your site!  How long would that take.

I gave it a try, open the Word document, opened a web page with a short post, copy-past, 5 minutes later was a post I was really proud of.  I mean, I was really proud of what it looked like, it looked like the web, but formal, something you would expect of a printed book.  Here is a side by side comparison of the same post from Blog2Print and my template:

Blog2Pring - Lulu

I started with the Year 2014, it is one of the most complete, after that I hope to order 2015 soon after this year is over.  I hope to be able to catch up 2015, and then every time I publish a post I added it to book.  Wish me luck.

Why I blog

(This article appeared in the Latino Afinity Group Newsflash in April 2015)

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In the edge of the cyber sphere, alone, unbothered is a small window that peers into the comings and goings of our family. FamMijangos.com was born a little over 2 years ago, with the purpose of preserving our family’s history, to have a central place for family and friends to connect with us, and to be a window for the world to peer into our daily life.

My family was generating about 30 GB of images and videos a year, many memories were recorded and then forgotten. For Christmas 2012, as a gift to my wife, I purchased the site FamMijangos.com, short for Familia Mijangos (Mijangos’ Family). I brought in a few posts and pictures from other blogs we were doing and centralized them to one location. From that point on we have tried to preserve our history, where we go, what we do, the mundane, and the extreme. Family History is important to us, and sharing it has become delightful.

My parents and siblings are scattered from Hawaii to Atlanta, and in Guatemala, we have friends all over the world. With changing platforms and technologies that come and go, we needed a central repository for people to connect with us. Constantly adding posts has enabled us to keep in touch with our family and friends. We have been able to reconnect with past acquaintances, and strengthen the bond with others. The site is our digital home, and provides a window to the outside world.

Although there are configurations that would make the site invisible to the world, we chose to have it as a public window to the world. This makes us conscious of what we write, which images we share, and what things we keep private; but we don’t want a fake portrait of our life. We want this to be the history of our lives, for our children know how we were; the happy times and sad times. In other words, to keep it real.

I enjoy writing and putting together all the components of a website together, but the real value is in opening an old post and showing my little girl a video of the first time she held a butterfly. A picture is a thousand words, but sometimes you need five more words to know the context. So come and visit our little corner of the internet, we’ll keep a light on for you at FamMijangos.com

Numbers Talking

Views per Month

Number of PostsViews and visitors are not the focus of my blog, but boy how I love to see the graphs. I find myself hitting the refresh on the “Stats” page over and over, especially if I published something that day. There is something magical about publishing something, posting it on facebook and seeing people come to the site. There is excitement in having something meaningful being read by others.

December was a record month, and then February broke the record again with over 650 views. And I know all this is small potatoes to most sites, but this is my baby. As I look at the numbers, when I post something on facebook people come, sometimes new posts bring people, sometimes old posts on Thursdays bring people to the site. Small posts are good, videos are better; things I know, but so hard to produce.

The main thing, the real cause to this bigger numbers is really that I’ve been publishing 2 posts every week and doing a #TBT on Thursdays, it’s just having new content and opening that window to our home. I’m happy that I have this window, where we can share out happy moments and our sad times.

As you can see from the number of posts on the left, and the views on top; the more I write the more people come to the site; and that makes me want to write more, and happy that I’m doing it.

Photo Challenge Week 11

Update 10: On Writing

From this point on, I will not include which Update I’m doing, it has been 10 weeks of posting, and you and I understand that this is happening, consistently. This consistency is what has really stretched me this year. 10 Weeks, 3 posts per week (2 on the Main Site and 1 here) very consistently.

My mind keeps coming back to this post from Gina Trapani about her new rules of blogging. I too put new rules at that time—Just Write. This year I’ve also put in a goal to write more often, flexing the muscle; and I’ve used this particular space to just fill it with my thought of the week. A Meta Blog for FamMijangos.com

Had it not been for this setup, I don’t think I would have written some of the posts. Having that deadline is just moves you to think of your week, the experiences, that might even seem trivial are the ones that shape you.

I see things differently, they make me to pause and reflect how I understand them. I find myself being somewhat in a reminiscent state. Are my reactions based strictly on what I see or are they linked to things from my past. This week I wrote on my girl’s love for tying her stuffed animals with blankets, and how I love to help her with that. I went back to the time I was in Scouts and my love of knots.

I enjoy writing about these things, not long posts, not the 1,000 word description of a vacation which I want to do; but are not the most enjoyable. I’ve found that posts between 200 and 300 words are enjoyable, deep enough, and fast enough to write.

Check out the new template for the 365 Photo Challenge:

Photo Challenge Week 10