This is a guest post by Ashlee McCullen, a staff writer on Apron Addicts.
I’m sometimes surprised at the sheer number of people I meet who blog or write for the web and yet don’t know HTML.
While you don’t need to know web technologies in-depth to make money online, you’ll find that knowing at least the basics is extremely helpful.
Sure, you can input text into a “visual” editor like the one WordPress provides. But what happens if the visual editor jumbles things up? (I know that’s happened to me many times!)
And can you download attractive templates and website tools, but even those may require coding to be tweaked or to work for your website.
Don’t Fear the Code
If you’re not familiar with HTML, it can seem intimidating.
But the truth is learning the basics of HTML is quite easy. It’s not a programming language that requires you to implement mathematical functions or any kind of hacking.
HTML is a markup language.
For the purposes of blogging, you write posts like you normally would. Except you’d add tags where you want to format text. To give you a simple example, writing out
<h1>Blog Headline</h1> results in the code being formatted as a big headline in a web browser.
Learning HTML for Non-Geeks/CodeMonkeys
I’m going to list a few resources anyone can use to learn and implement HTML.
Once you understand the difference between using
<strong>, your headlines will look better. Better still, when you understand the basics of HTML, you can correct errors made by tools intended to automate the process!
And with your knowledge, you won’t need to rely on a pricey developer for minor website tweaks. (Though they’re still invaluable for doing the heavy lifting!)
Here are some useful resources:
- Online Tutorials: One of the easiest, fastest ways to learn HTML is to head over to a site like the recently-created Code Year and use their free lessons. (Another option is the HTML Tutorial offered by W3C Schools).
- HTML Cheat Sheets and References: To make writing and editing HTML less intimidating, use Web Monkey’s online HTML reference. I’ve also used custom glassboards at my office and the smartphone app HTML Reference Cards Pro.
- Go In-Depth with Books: One of the best desisions I’ve ever made was to read Head First HTML. This was not only the first HTML book I could understand, but its lessons were surprisingly deep. Plus, it uses cartoons and cheesy stock images to keep things light-hearted.
- HTML-friendly Text Editors: If you’re a Mac user, do yourself a favor and download the free text editor TextWrangler. It, and its Windows equivalent Notepad++, make writing and editing HTML easier thanks to color-coding and error-catching features.
- WordPress: If you blog on WordPress, consider installing the plugin Tidy Up. It’s a handy tool that fixes your coding blunders for you.
But for those of you who may be writers like me, I recommend you at least learn how to format the following using HTML:
- Paragraphs (Note: WordPress handles paragraphs differently from most other web tools.)
- Bold and Italics
- Bullet and Numbered Lists
- Images (Bonus: Know when to use the JPG format or PNG.)
There. For most many of you, just learning the above is enough to at least get by contributing to or operating your own blog.