How to Make Your Own Printables for Free

This Blogging Tip is brought to you by Erin of Royal Baloo and Logi Bear Too! She’s wonderful at making printables and sharing them on her blog, and she’s sharing how to she does it all here on Blogging With Kids! Erin also recently shared some photography composition tips too!

I love making and offering free printables to my readers.  I get a lot of questions about how to make them and thought I’d offer a quick tutorial to anyone who is interested.  I use all free programs and mostly free clipart.  Free is my favorite word 🙂

What to use to make Printables:

I use gimp to alter any clipart I need or to make general changes like rotating or resizing.  Gimp is basically the free version of Adobe Photoshop but with a bit of a learning curve.

I use OpenOffice to put everything together and export to PDF.  More specifically, I use OpenOffice Write and OpenOffice Draw. (OpenOffice is a free office software to download, very similar to Microsoft Office.)

A few places for free clipart:

As far as free clipart comes, I pretty much only use those sites.  If I can’t find what I want there, I go to etsy.com.

For paid clipart, the only 3 sites I go to are:

How to Make Printables:

Now that the basics are out of the way, I’m going to include some techniques I use in OpenOffice.

I do most of my work in OpenOffice Write.  And I use tables on almost every page.  It just helps me to line up everything easier.  Here is how I’ve lined up a prewriting practice page:
How to make a printable

On this page I don’t want the tables to show up.  Making them invisible is very easy luckily!  Right-click in the table, select Table Properties and under the tab ‘borders’ select none.

How to make a printable

Now, I’m going to add a picture to the first cell on the left and the cell on the top right.  I want these pictures to be facing each other so I have to flip one horizontally.  This is one of the few changes I can make to images in OpenOffice Write.  After inserting the picture simply right click on it, select Picture… and under the ‘picture’ tab click the box next to horizontally.
How to make a printable

I’ve got both pictures how I want them and I want a line in between.  This particular sheet is for toddlers so I like to do a thick line.  There is a line tool in the lower left hand corner.  Click on it and you can adjust the line thickness at the top.

How to make a printable

You can see my settings in the picture above.  I change the color to light gray and adjust the thickness until I find what I want.  Then you just draw your line wherever you want it!

After you’ve finished all your pages you are ready to export!  Simple click on File –> Export to pdf.
How to make a printable

I strongly suggest setting a permission password so your PDF cannot be tampered with.  This is also a requirement of some clip art artists.
When you select export to PDF you will get a popup.  Click the security tab and set the permission password.
How to make a printable

The next step to sharing your printable is uploading it to the internet.  If you have your own host I recommend uploading it to your FTP directory.  This varies based on host so if you don’t know how to do it you’ll have to contact your host.

If you do not have your own host there are a few sites that will host files for you for free.  The only one I have used is 4shared.com.  I’ve had a good history with them and I feel that their website is very easy to navigate.

Update your printable and you are ready to share!

SEO Tip: Keywords

Today's Blogging Tip

I quickly mentioned “Keywords” the other day in how to use image alt and title descriptions as a SEO tip.

Google likes keyword rich content. More importantly, it likes it to pertain to your actual content (not just keyword filled for no apparent reason).

When I started trying to figure out SEO, I had a few questions about keywords:

  • What keywords should I use in my posts?
  • How do I make them my keywords?
  • What can I do to maximize these keywords for SEO?
SEO Tip: Keywords

 

What keywords should I use in my posts?

The keywords are what a reader would use to search for in Google to find your post. It should be relevant to your post. They’re not necessarily a word like “toddler” or “activity”, but can be a phrase such as “toddler activity”.

For instance, the 50 Activities Just For Your Toddler post is my most searched post on hands on: as we grow (it brings in the most traffic from Google). The keywords for this post could be:

  • toddler activities
  • sensory activities
  • toddler art
  • toddler crafts
  • toddler sensory activity
And so on. 
 

How do I make them my keywords?

Google looks for keywords in a lot of places.

  • The Title of your post/blog. This is what you see in the tab or at the top browser window. You want to make sure your title of the post shows here, not just your blog name.
  • Post titles. (H1, H2, H3 headings, these will also probably be your blog title and sidebar titles).
  • The URL. (By default, the URL is the same as your post title but with hyphens – and some other exceptions – but you can change this to make it even more keyword rich if needed.)
  • The beginning of your post. The first paragraph should have your keywords in it!
  • Image alt tags.
  • Post content.

 

These are very important places to make sure you include your keywords in order to optimize your SEO. A biggy is your content. You need to have your keywords in your content! And for SEO purposes, the keywords should show up the most in your content. Checking back in with the 15 minute SEO guide, number 4 on the list is about keyword density:

Keyword density in document text

Another very important factor you need to check. 3-7 % for major keywords is best, 1-2 for minor. Keyword density of over 10% is suspicious and looks more like keyword stuffing, than a naturally written text.

 

You can check your keyword density using a keyword density checker! (They make a tool for everything, don’t they?) This one only shows it based on a word and not a phrase, but if gives you an idea of your most used words, as well as if you’re getting a little wordy (you may want to cut out unnecessary parts in your post to make your keyword density higher). Just try to get those main keywords in the 3-7% range.

Bonus tip: Google loves to look at larger text, or bold or italic words in your content. Try to work these styles of formatting with your keywords into your post as well when its fitting!

 

What can I do to maximize these keywords for SEO?

To maximize your keywords even further, you can use Google’s Keyword Search Tool to analyze the best phrases and words that people are looking for. 

You type in a phrase, or two, of what you believe to be your keywords and Google will tell you how many monthly searches are made on that phrase, and what kind of competition that it gets. The lower competition the better. The higher the number of searches, the better. The goal is to find the best balance of those that fit with your keywords.

This keyword tool will also give you suggestions of other phrases you might want to try.

For an example, I entered in the above keywords that I mentioned for the toddler post. What would be ideal is if my post was about ‘games for babies’! A ton of monthly searches on that, with very little competition. Unfortunately, most of the keywords for this post have a medium competition, but the monthly searches are decent.

SEO Keyword Tool

 

This will be something you’ll have to play with to get the hang of. Give it a shot!

 

SEO Tip: Image Alt & Title Tags

Today's Blogging Tip

SEO is a little mind-boggling to most bloggers.

What is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Meaning that you want to optimize your site for search engines to access it and actually like what they see. There are some key things to do to make this happen.

A great place to start is to check out the 15 minutes checklist for SEO at Webconfs.com

We’ll be going through a few of what we think are important things to do for SEO for your site.

Telling search engines what your images are is a pretty easy, but very important, step.

Its #7 on their list, and its +2 importance for SEO. I rank it higher only because its something you can do easily from day one of blogging (and likely something you won’t go back and edit all your posts for). 

 

Why are Image Alt Tags so important to SEO?

Without an Image Alt tag, search engines have no idea what that picture is. They can’t see that its a child playing in a water sensory bin. So you have to tell the search engines what it is. 

 

How do you set Image Alt Tags?

In Blogger, it’s very simple now. After you’ve inserted the image into your post, click on it. There will be a blue bar that pops up. Click on “Properties”.

Click Properties in Blogger to Add Image Alt & Titles

There’s two boxes to fill out.

Title text and alt text.

(WordPress users, it’s very similar. Click on your image and edit it and fill out the Title and Alternate Text fields.)

I believe that alt text is more important, but since they’re both right here, you might as well fill out both.

Use keywords in your descriptions of your images that really do describe the photo.

For instance, in a photo that I would use on hands on : as we grow:

Instead of using: “Henry & George playing in the water.”

Use keywords: “Toddler & Preschooler Water Play”

 

Blogger > Image Properties > Title & Alt Texts

My keywords being water, toddler and preschooler. (Henry means absolutely nothing to most people who are searching on the web, so I never use it in an Image Alt tag. However, there are times when I do use it in the Title Tag. Why? Read on.

 

How are Title Tags different that Image Alt Tags?

Title tags appear on the image when you hover over them. I have a screen shot to show it below. But you can also hover over the image to see what I titled this image, too.

Your readers will see your Image Title Tags. So make sure they are relevant to them.

Image Title Tag Appearance in Post

Use image alt tags with every image you post. Sometimes its hard to remember, that’s okay. I forget about it too. It’s always better to do it later than not at all. The search engines will like you so much better once you tell them what your images are all about.

 

Have you been using the Image Alt & Title Tags in your posts? 

 

SEO Tip: Image Alt & Title Tags
 
Recipe Type: SEO Tip
Author: Jamie @ hands on : as we grow

How to add image alt and title tags in Blogger
Ingredients
  • http://kidbloggernetwork.com/blog/seo-tip-image-alt-title-tags/
Instructions
  1. Insert image into a post.
  2. Click on the image.
  3. Select “Properties” from blue bar
  4. Fill out “Title Text” and “Alternate Description” with descriptive keywords of the image.
 
Notes

The “Title Text” will be viewable to a reader when they hover over the image.