PDF files in Blogger and other blog stuff

UPDATE 10/1/10: Now that I’ve moved my entire blog to WordPress, this post is not completely relevant, but I am leaving up as it may still be helpful to some.

Blogger. Blogspot. Whichever. Both. Same thing. It’s where I started. It’s where I remain.

I’m not a techie, seriously. I know I’ve somehow managed to impress a few of you with that whole e-mail button gadget thing, but seriously, I can’t even remember how I ever figured that out in the first place, but I’m sure I read about it somewhere online. Though I wish I did, I simply don’t have it in my budget to hire someone to walk me through all the technical blogging ins and outs. I believe I’ve got my post content pretty nailed down, but too often I need to figure out some way of modifying my blog outside of the basic Blogger constrictions. Such as converting to 3-columns (which is now available from Blogger, awesome), or tightening the space between my sidebar gadgets, adding a signature to my posts, and adding other stuff here and there. Typepad and WordPress have features available that Blogger doesn’t, but they both seem so much more complicated to me. Blogger is so user friendly and everything I needed to learn outside of what they can offer me I have found by Google searching my questions, for example, “How to hide the Google Navigation bar on my blog”. There are always answers and usually if you patiently search a while you can find very simple tutorials on tinkering around with the HTML of your blog, whether you (like me) understand the whole HTML thing or not.

When working on your blog’s design/layout, you should always save a copy of your HTML as it is before you start messing with it, in case you goof up. Blogger allows you to download a full template of your HTML, but I usually cut and paste the entire HTML section into an email draft, date it and save it. Then if I get confused and have already changed my code for good, I can always go back and replace it with my earlier version. The best thing to do, of course, when tinkering with your HTML is to only preview the changes, and not save them until you’re completely sure you like it.

My biggest challenge to date is posting PDF files of graphics in Blogger. Files in PDF format allow me to share vector* graphics (line-art) for those of you that want to manipulate the artwork with your design software. JPEG (raster*) files are great for images such as photos or scanned vintage postcards, for example, that can be altered with photo editing software. But enlarging a JPEG image from the original file size can create an ugly problem.
*If you’re not familiar with vector files or what they are for, check out the podscast from CreativeCow.net.
Other blog platforms, such as Typepad and WordPress allow you to do this effortlessly. Unfortunately, hosting PDF files is not an option for Blogger. And since there’s no EASY button on your computer, I’ve resorted to using 3rd party sites to host my PDF files. I’ve created a Google Group which allows me to upload PDF files and share their link from my blog post. The problem with that is that when the PDF file is being accessed by more than one person at the same time, it jams all up and someone gets a “bandwidth exceeded” notice and they are unable to access the file. Then I get emails.

It was recommended on several blogs I’ve read to use the site Scribd for sharing PDF files. It’s a pretty fun site- you can upload your files and direct peeps right to your files hosted there. That works great for me, but I have no doubt it annoys some of my readers to have to sign up with Scribd just to get the files. Then, today, I received a comment on one of my older blog posts noting that Scribd was charging a fee for the “archived” file. Yikes! That’s no good!

So, until the blog police come knocking on my door, or my new brilliant idea goes down in a ball of flames due to some glitch I can’t imagine at this point, I have created my own solution for hosting PDF files for immediate download from my Blogger blog. Are you ready for this- I created an entire new blog over in WordPress just for the sake of uploading PDF files. THAT I can figure out on WP. Once I upload them on WP, I grab the URL of the PDF and paste it as a link to the just for-show-JPG-image or thumbnail I’ve placed in my blog post on Blogger.

Did that make sense?

And by the way, it certainly can’t hurt to claim your blog’s name on the other blog platforms out there just for safe-keeping. Again, I may be summoned to appear in blog court over all of this manipulation of blog sites, and I really don’t want to cheat the system illegally (bloggerly speaking,) but I’m kinda patting myself on the back for finally coming up with a solution to the no PDF file hosting problem with Blogger. (Likely others have been troubleshooting this way before me and I’m not all that ingenious after all.)

So, now the work begins…I will slowly but surely go back into all my previous posts and change out the PDF downloads to be accessed through my new WordPress blog. Ultimately, you shouldn’t notice anything but ease now when clicking on free PDF images to download, no re-direction, no sites to sign up with, just a click to download. However, this could take months for me to do as I will get to each file as I can, in and out of projects and other life commitments, so thank you in advance for your patience in dealing with the files as they are.

To get the party started, here’s a PDF file for you to try out. Click on the image and let me know how it goes.

And… an important reminder for you bloggers, crafters, artists, designers out there:

Start branding your name TODAY!

• Create a blog with YOUR name on it, like I did: catheholden.blogspot.com . It’s free, and even if you already have a blog by another name, get one or more with your name. You don’t have to use it right away, or I suppose- at all, but it’s there when and if you need it one day, or to keep others from snagging it should you become famous, (if you’re not already.)

• Register a domain name with your name, such as catheholden.com, assuming you have a name that isn’t too common and already taken. Your name IS your ultimate brand, start owning it. I use GoDaddy.com to host all of my domains, cheap. They have a toll free number, pick up the phone and talk to a real person who can walk you through purchasing your domain and answering even your lamest, most rookie questions, they are GREAT!

Oh, and you Blogspot Bloggers- here’s another little nugget that took me way to long to figure out, but finally did with the help of my Typepad friend, Apron Thrift Girl: How to create multiple pages in Blogger. The solution is crazy simple: when signed in, go to blogger in draft. On your DESIGN page, you’ll find a gadget for PAGES in the layout!

UPDATE: The first two comments to this post brought up the question of creating posts for a later date. It’s easier than you think, click on my image below!ANOTHER UPDATE: Well it didn’t take too long for my WordPress PDF idea to fail. I’m already getting emails that there is trouble with those files uploading. BUT the good news is that I’ve gotten some GREAT advice in the comments, so I am giving Google Docs a try, starting with the cheese labels of the previous post. I’ll get to the others as I can. In the meantime, if you are having any trouble with files, just email me.

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