How to Create a Perfect Showcase for Free [Part 1]

11.27.2015 no comments

One of the established methods of drawing traffic to your blog is showcasing freebies on it. This method is ‘surefire’, when used correctly, of course. This article will reveal the secrets of building a perfect showcase and supply you with some of the necessary links, where one can find a variety of quality free stuff.

What is a showcase actually?

The answer is obvious, but it’s incredibly important to dot all i’s and cross all t’s before starting to gather information.

So, a showcase is method of displaying something or even someone in an attractive and favorable aspect.

What can be showcased?

It depends on your target audience, its interests and requirements. Supposing, you are running a web design blog, then your content should be useful, inspiring or just interesting for people involved in the field.

Users like to get items that save them time and effort for free. Both professionzals and amateurs use these small tricks. So, you can compile free themes from reputable providers, UI elements (mockups, icons, buttons, textures, patterns, etc.), fonts, photos, different tools (URL shorteners, online text generators, online image editors and so on) and many other goodies.

But let’s put first things first and start with an obvious open-and-shut example like a blog post showcase structure. As a rule, a showcase consists of a catchy title, short, but informative introduction, where you explain how the reader can benefit from its contents. Then there is the main part, where you feature the freebies you have collected (it’s better to supply them with short descriptions). Finally there is the conclusion, where you ask the readers if the showcase was useful to them (the questions should be concrete, otherwise the users are not inclined to answer them or leave any comments) and try to involve them in the discussion. This will help you get to know your audience better and create a community around your blog. Your articles will always be straight-to-the-point and the readers will visit your website regularly in search of updated information. By the way, you can ask your readers to share your content if they like it. As a rule, people share content more willingly if they are asked to do so. Besides, it’s a great way to promote your site on social networks for free and attract more traffic to it.

Our short introduction is finished. Now you know what the blog post is about, how you can benefit from it and is it worth your attention at all. Here follows the main content part.

Writing good titles and URLs

title

The title is the first thing your reader will see, so make it pop. Reel your audience in with a teaser of what’s to come in the main text. Don’t be sensationalist, but don’t be boring, either. Also, don’t be misleading! Identify the “thesis” of your blog post and be sure to reference it in your title. Depending on your audience, your titles may be more or less to-the-point or explanatory.

Consider the following tips to get the most out of blog titles

1. Choose a target: single out a group of people from your audience.

2. Explain the hows: for information-seekers in this age of information.

3. Explain the how – nots: readers want to know about common failings and how to prevent them.

4. Use numbers: harness the irresistible appeal of lists.

5. Use data: let readers know you’re sharing facts by using statistical data.

6. Make a statement that seems too good to be true.

7. Be confrontational: challenge your readers.

8. Be controversial: spark conversation by making a statement contrary to standard practices or thought.

9. Spend time on your title. Many new bloggers do not spend much time on the perfect title as they believe that the quality of their content is enough. Big mistake. Your blog title is your first impression. If readers don’t find your title catchy, they won’t bother clicking on it.

10. Keep your titles short. The ideal length of a blog title is between 6-8 words. A long blog title is not only boring but it also dilutes the reader’s attention. Plus long titles get truncated by search engines.

11. Optimize for SEO.

Please check out this post, you’ll find 10 blog title templates that actually work:

url

URL stands for Universal (and later) Uniform Resource Locator. But few people know it by those names these days. Better to think of it as what you might put into your browser’s address bar. Think of it as a web address or a link. Anything that begins with http:// or https:// or ftp:// or even mailto:// qualifies as a URL. There are a few other “Network protocols” but these are the most common.

Three parts of a “well formed” URL are the network protocol (the front part that tells the browser how to process it (http:// or https:// or others), the domain or host name (like name.com or www.name.com), and the file or directory path (like index.html or /products) A whole string of other strange characters may follow that as a way to send tracking information to the server. For example, when you search for a book on Amazon.com, it has a longer URL than is required. You can often cut off the part following the question mark and get the same page; if, for example, you want to copy and save it in a file or send the link (URL) to a friend by email. Most users cut off the end of such long URLs and test them, before they copy and paste them to a text file for safe keeping.

Rules of a URL

1.  A URL can have no spaces, quotes or backslashes. (While the exception is filename with spaces on a Windows server, it is still not recommended, as the spaces need to be “escaped” to work).

2.  All slashes are forward slashes. The trailing slash, at the end of a URL, is usually optional, unless it follows a filename. In that case, it’s just wrong and prohibited.

3.  When you type a URL incorrectly into your browser, you usually get a “404 File Not Found” error. Check your typing for typos. Add or take out the leading www or cut off the end of the URL, back to the domain name, to see if the site is still active. If so, do a search for the title of the page you were looking for. They may have installed a new CMS, and the original post may be in a new location, or no longer there at all.

4.  While most browsers will get you to the address even if you leave out the URL protocol (the front part), there are a few places where it is required. For example, making a link in an answer clickable on certain sites often requires a “well formed” URL, the full address, not just the name of the site. Update your site to allow for either form. Many forums do not.

5.  The “www” in a URL domain name may be optional, required or prohibited to get to the site. It depends on how completely the site owner filled out the DNS record. In other words, you can sometimes leave it out and get the same result. It should be optional in all cases where the DNS record was filled out correctly. By tradition, the www is left off when you have a subdomain.

Glossary of terms

DNS (Domain Naming Service) is how the Internet knows on which server your website is located. It’s like a phone directory connecting the names of sites to the number or IP address of the site.

Server: a computer (or set of computers) that offers (or serves) a particular service to a network, depending on what software is running. So an Internet server can host websites and serve web pages to browsers. An email server can host email. The same computer may have several server programs running; say a Database server and a web server. Or a single web server might be spread across several machines, to distribute the workload of a busy website better.

Subdomain: if you own the domain example.com then you can create other, unique domains by prepending a name and dot to the front. For example, you might choose to put your blog in: blog.example.com and your FTP files in: ftp.example.com.

Some good URL shortening websites

URL Shortener

Actually, the links are shortened, but the shortened URL doesn’t forcibly replace the anchor text of the link, just replaces the destination of the link (the “href” part). Hover over any link on Twitter. Look at the destination. It points to http://t.co. Always. If there is space (a lot of characters left) and you post on twitter.com the URL will be displayed. No reason to shorten a URL if there is space for it.

1. bit.ly

2. YOURLS.org

3. get.al

4. snip.li

5. is.gd

7. ow.ly

Here is a pretty good list of URL shorteners:

bit.do

We’ll continue with lists of useful resources for web designers

Want to showcase free themes – find them here:

free theme

1. wordpress.org

2. websitetemplatesonline.com

3. freewebsitetemplates.com

4. colorlib.com

5. graphpaperpress.com

6. designdisease.com/portfolio

7. freethemelayouts.com

8. blogohblog.com

9. freewordpressthemes4u.com

10. grabatheme.com

11. templates.arcsin.se

12. themegrill.com

13. nimbusthemes.com

14. designscrazed.org

15. siteground.com

16. freewebtemplates.com

17. wpthemesfree.com

18. wptavern.com

19. bootswatch.com

20. bootstrapzero.com

21. startbootstrap.com

22. siteorigin.com

23. fthemes.com

4. athemes.com

25. all-free-download.com

26. modernthemes.net

27. 3dcart.com

28. musefree.com

Of course, this list is not exhaustive, but we hope it will provide you with a good choice with which to start. We will provide you many more good resources to find freebies in the sequel (Part 2) of this article. Want to have a little teaser? A collection of carefully handpicked websites compiling free photos, UI elements and other web design tools is coming soon. Follow our publications in order not to miss them and create not one, but many perfect showcases.


Written by:
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Helga Moreno is a learning junkie, requiring a new dose of fresh information every day. She is always keeping her notepad at hand in order not to miss a single thrilling event happening in cyberspace. She diligently puts down all her thought in order to share the most interesting of them with web community in general and TemplateMonster’s readers in particular. For more inspirational posts check her and accounts.


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