23 April 2012

3 reasons why every blogger must learn HTML

Image courtesy - Marjan of Flickr

The statement propagated by many bloggers that "Modern day technology enables you to blog without any technical knowledge" seems false to me. Yes modern day technology has made it very easy for you to blog compared to past but you still require some technical information to run a successful blog. This "some technical information" is more than what most people think. In fact, I myself was deluded by the statement when I started to blog. After 1 year of blogging I have come to realize that you need to be pretty much tech savvy to run a successful blog.

And this is not just my personal opinion. Jon Morrow of Copyblogger says in the post 5 harsh realities of making a living online:
If you want to build an online business, you’ll have to learn about WordPress and web hosts and domain names and FTP and security and hundreds of other little technical details... In my opinion, you have to learn at least the basics, or you’ll never survive. You can pick up most of it in a single weekend if you have the right collection of study materials, and you can pick up the rest here and there as you go along.
In this article I will pin-point my discussion as to why every blogger needs to learn at least the basics of the HTML language.

What is HTML? If you require a detailed knowledge of HTML, refer to the wonderful site W3Schools. Below are some quotes from the site for a brief introduction. 
HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language.
HTML documents describe web pages.
The purpose of a web browser (like Internet Explorer or Firefox) is to read HTML documents and display them as web pages.
I know it's too brief. Even if you don't know what HTML actually is, this article is still for you, as here I am more concerned with what HTML actually does? I will write more articles answering the question that what HTML actually is? If you want any specific topic to be covered, let me know in the comments below.

This article is intended to show you the uses of HTML. Once you learn that, we can discuss the language itself later in the future posts.


1) HTML can be used to eliminate formatting problems in posts

All blogs usually supply two options to structure your blog post. One option is the HTML option in which you type out the post directly in the HTML format.

The second option is the simple writing option in which you can manually add hyperlinks, numbered lists, etc. in your blog posts. It's somewhat like MS Word.

Now some bloggers brag about that even if you don't know HTML, you can always use the latter option to write your blog posts. In the past one year, I have worked on four blogs - three used the Blogger platform and one WordPress. I have tried to write posts directly into the non-HTML option but every time I have got formatting problems. None of my posts looked exactly the same after hitting the publish button as they looked before. I always got spacing problems.

I spent hours trying to rectify the problems but to no avail. Then the good Avalon Jaedra helped me out, telling me that the issue can be resolved very easily by HTML.

Then I learnt HTML and the problems got eventually solved. 

It's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get rid of the formatting problems with manual formatting. Trust me. HTML will save you a lot of time and work.

2) Most guest post submissions require the HTML format

Most bloggers prefer that you submit your guest post to them as an HTML code. This saves them a lot of time on formatting. All that they need to do is to copy and paste the code submitted by you on their blog and hit publish.

Until now, I have guest posted for ProBlogger and Freelance Switch and they both require that guest posts should be submitted in the HTML format. Though I confess that in some cases I hadn't submitted my posts in the HTML format (because I hadn't learned HTML at that time) and still got published but those posts were pretty much simply formatted. They didn't contain any numbered or bulleted lists or any complex citations following the Chicago Manual of Style and as such were easy for the editors to format and publish on their blogs.

In one case, where I had submitted an article in the non-HTML form on Freelance Switch, the editor emailed me saying that though he has accepted the article for publication but I must convert it into the HTML format. If I didn't know HTML, I would have lost a great opportunity. 

3) HTML can be used to link social media icons of your blog to your respective social media profiles

Take a look at the side-bar on the right. You will find the icons of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc. Hover your mouse on them. You will find that the mouse pointer changes its shape as though it's on a link. (And actually it is.)  Clicking on an icon will take you to my respective social media profile. I did this through HTML.

This hyper-linking of images is very easy to achieve and will not take more than two minutes if you know the correct HTML code for that.

Obviously there are a lot many uses of learning HTML. In this article I have touched upon the three that seemed most important to me for bloggers. In case you feel I've missed a point, let me know in the comments below. 
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