Blogging for Business Course Notes

By @philoakley (www.twitter.com/philoakley) From @outserveweb (www.twitter.com/outserveweb) Website – www.outserveweb.com Facebook – www.facebook.com/OutserveWeb

There is a companion blog to along with these notes available at http://OutTraining.wordpress.com/

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January 2011

Outserve Ltd
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Contents
Introduction  ............................................................................................................................4 Sign  Up  for  a  WordPress.com  Account...................................................................................5 Posts......................................................................................................................................9 Write  you  first  post................................................................................................................10 Permalinks........................................................................................................................11 Entering  your  post.............................................................................................................12 Embedding  Media  into  a  post............................................................................................14 Categories  and  Tags.........................................................................................................15 Save,  Preview  and  Publish...............................................................................................16 Twitter  and  WordPress.com..................................................................................................17 WordPress  .com  to  Twitter................................................................................................17 Twitter  to  WordPress.com.................................................................................................18 WordPress  Settings..............................................................................................................20 General  Settings...............................................................................................................21 General  Settings  –  Blog  icon.............................................................................................22 Writing  Settings....................................................................................................................23 Reading  Settings...............................................................................................................24 RSS  (Really  Simple  Syndication)......................................................................................25 Discussion  Settings...........................................................................................................27 Media  Settings..................................................................................................................28 Privacy  Settings................................................................................................................29 Users....................................................................................................................................30 Upgrades    -­Premium  services..............................................................................................32 Appearance..........................................................................................................................33 Themes.............................................................................................................................34 Widgets.............................................................................................................................35 Change  your  Header  Image..............................................................................................39 Pages................................................................................................................................41

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Badges  and  Widgets............................................................................................................42 Legal  Disclaimer...................................................................................................................43 Copyright  notice...................................................................................................................43

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Introduction
These course notes are designed to get you started blogging. If you complete the steps in the course you should have the start of a fully featured blog, but of course this is just the start if you want a successful and productive blog then it will normally take consistent effort over a period of time. This course should give you enough knowledge to get that great blog started.
Definition  of  a  Blog  from  Wikipedia  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog) A  blog  (a  contraction  of  the  term  "web log")  is  a  type  of  website,  usually  maintained   by  an  individual  with  regular  entries  of  commentary,  descriptions  of  events,  or  other   material  such  as  graphics  or  video.  Entries  are  commonly  displayed  in  reverse-­ chronological  order.  "Blog"  can  also  be  used  as  a  verb,  meaning  to  maintain  or  add   content  to  a  blog.

The course is based on using WordPress.com a very well known and respected hosted blogging platform. This means that the blog is hosted for you at no cost (there can be some adverts placed on your blog to cover hosting). WordPress.com does offer a premium ad-free service with other additional extras, details at http://en.WordPress.com/products/. Although the course is based on WordPress.com most of the training is transferable to other blogging platforms which offer similar functionality. Also if you were to find WordPress.com restrictive then you have the full open source WordPress software hosted by a third party or even host it yourself which offers the opportunity to customise further.

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Sign Up for a WordPress.com Account
Before you can get started you will need to sign up for an account. Go to http://WordPress.com and click the button and complete the sign up screen as the screen below. With your chosen unique username and password In the free account, by default, your ‘Username’ will form part of your url such as http://yourusername.WordPress.com but this can be changed your business or name would be popular choices.

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Sign Up for a WordPress.com Account continued You can change you domain name during the sign up process to http://somethingunique.WordPress.com. and you should consider SEO friendly U R L e . g i f yo u s e l l S o l a r P a n e l s i n t h e U K t h e n m ay b e uksolarpanels.wordpress.com although again your business name may be a popular choice. At this stage you can also set the title of you blog (don’t worry this can be changed later if you don’t like what you first choose).

Once you have completed the registration you should be taken to the dashboard screen. WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) and the Dashboard screen is the back end ‘control panel’ for your blog so you can control you ‘content’ (the information you put on your website).

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Navigation of WordPress is controlled be the main toolbar on the left. Below is brief summary of the main areas of the menu and what they are for

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After you have completed the signup go and have a look at your website either by clicking the ‘visit site’ link form the top left or by typing you web address into another browser screen. With none of the configuration changed and all default settings the website should look very similar to the screen below:

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Posts
Clicking the Posts menu> and selecting the ‘Edit’ posts option will take you to the lists of posts for the blog. All WordPress blogs have the ‘Hello world’ by default. This should be deleted straight away.

Hovering over a posts name will give you quick options - Edit|Quick Edit|Trash |View. Select Trash and the post will be deleted from the blog. It is recommended that you delete the hello world post. Bulk actions can be applied to multiple posts by selecting the posts (Click the box on the left of the post) and selecting the bulk action from the drop down menu and clicking apply.

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Write you first post
Click ‘Add New’ from the posts screen and you will be presented with the main post screen below.

First you will need a title. Titles of posts are key for being found on Google as they create the permalink (see below). A few tips on blog titles:  Keep them short and interesting  Make them a good description of the post  Try to make the title something that would make people want to read more  If possible, include your keywords into your title
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Permalinks A Permalink is short for permanent link. For every post you publish to your blog, WordPress automatically creates a permalink that looks contains the date of the post and the title http://WordPress.com/2006/04/20/blog-post-title/ This link will always point to a specific post, even if you’ve blogged all kinds of new things and your old posts have moved off your blog’s homepage and into your archives. Other bloggers and sites can use your permalinks to link to a specific post of yours. Search engines also use permalinks to separately index each post on your blog.

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Entering your post WordPress.com has a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor so you can enter direct text into the main box with the ‘Visual Tab’ After you have completed the title you need to 'craft' a post. If you prefer you can use a word processor or software of choice to create the main body of the text and then copy and paste it into the main window (below) although we would using either a basic text editor or saving files in RTF format because you can copy across the formatting from word processing format which can confuse the WordPress editor.

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When entering a new post for WordPress.com on the website you will be using their WYSIWYG editor with a main row of icons. Some of the icons will be familiar to you is you are used to using word processors. The main buttons are explained in order below 1  1. Bold 2. Italics
3.

2

3

4

5

6

7 8

9

10 11 12 13 14 15

Strike through e.g. Strike through Bulleted Numbered Block quote - normally used for text quoted from a person or website

4. 5. 6.

7.Formatted Left 8. Centred 9. Formatted Right 10. Link to another site or page e.g. bbc.co.uk 11. Break the link - bbc.co.uk 12. Inserting more tag will complete the visible part of the post and offer a 'more' link 13. Spell check 14. Full Screen mode - enters into a full screen edit mode 15. Shows even more options:

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Embedding Media into a post Long lists of text posts are not attractive and are thought not to entice a reader so it is recommended to embed media into a post even if it is just a related (however loosely) picture. From the upload/insert bar (above the main toolbar) you can upload:

 An image  Video  Audio  Media  Poll (via PollDaddy form)  Form (e.g. contact form)

More details of embedding media in a blog post are on the example blog at: http://outtraining.WordPress.com/2010/02/20/embed-audio-images-and-videomedia-in-a-WordPress-com/ and http://outtraining.WordPress.com/2009/12/08/embedding-content-in-posts/ and forms http://outtraining.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/adding-forms-to-wordpress-composts/ and polls http://outtraining.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/create-polls-on-wordpress-com/

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Categories and Tags It is recommended that Categories and Tags are used from the first post. Categories

Tags

Tags can make more sense over time as they can be seen over a group of posts as a 'tag cloud' (see widgets section). Tag clouds are often used in the sidebar as a representation of the blog in tag form. Tags are being used lots of areas to allow easy searching of photos and documents as well as blogs and micro blogs (e.g. Twitter). Not only will tags and categories become part of the navigation and architecture of your blog but it will help people find your posts and blog in search engines like Google. Using categories and post titles in your web pages will also help you being found.

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Save, Preview and Publish At any time you can, and should at regular intervals, save your post by clicking ‘Save Draft’ this will not post the article to the blog but will ensure no information is lost. Before publishing to your blog you can preview how the post will look. This is especially important if you have any embedded media such as pictures to ensure that layout looks right. You can save and edit a post as often as you like before you are happy to publish it. Once you are happy to post your website clicking the ‘Publish’ button will send it to the site for all to see (depending on your privacy settings).

Although you can edit a post after is has been published to your site once the original post has been published it may have been searched by Google and published in RSS feeds.

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Twitter and WordPress.com
A blog can be a great way to integrate multiple social media activity and also get the most out of the time and effort put into them. If you have a Twitter account then you can use it to broadcast information from your blog and also bring your tweets onto you blog. There are a two main ways that you can integrate Twitter (the well known micro blogging ser vice at http://twitter.com). WordPress .com to Twitter The first is to send a title and link of your new post once you have published it. To do this visit the ‘My Blogs’ link from the main menu under ‘Dashboard’.

Here you can tick the Publicize Twitter and it will take you to the Twitter authorisation page to link your accounts

You can also update a Facebook profile automatically. Understandably you will need an account with Twitter or Facebook if you want to use these services.

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Twitter to WordPress.com The second way you can integrate your WordPress.com blog to Twitter is to bring all of your Twitter updates on you blog using the Twitter widget (more on widgets later). From the main menu select Appearance> Widgets

You should be presented with a list of widgets on the right and should find the Twitter Widget towards the bottom. Click and drag the widget to the left had sidebar (you may have 1 or 2 sidebars depending on your theme). Once in one of the right hand sidebars click the right hand down arrow next to the twitter widget:

This will display the twitter widget options:

Twitter Widget Options:
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Title– Set the title to be shown above the authors. Twitter username– The username from Twitter that will be used. Maximum number of updates to show– How many tweets should be shown (1-20). Hide replies– Hides tweets that are a reply to another Twitter user, using @username at the beginning of the tweet. Text to display between tweet and timestamp– As the label suggests, this allows you to insert additional text between the Twitter message and the time it was posted. Typically you would use this to add ‘tweeted’ or ‘published’ etc. On OutTraining’s blog the widget has been configured quickly and simply. The settings and results are below: Settings Result

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WordPress Settings
By now if you have made your first post and added some tags and categories the blog will be starting to take shape but there are many settings that can be control and customise your blog.

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General Settings Blog title Can be changed but good to get your preferred title right first time. (nothing wrong with ‘Business Names’ blog also adds to Google juice) Tag line Not essential but a nice not have (many businesses have tag lines already). Can also be changed later. Also think about keywords and Google Juice Times/Dates Preference for display of dates and times. Most default settings should be fine.

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General Settings – Blog icon General Settings also allow you to upload a picture/logo. As well as being used around WordPress.com (their directory etc) it is also used as the sites favicon which will show in the browsers tab (where supported) e.g.

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Writing Settings

Size of post box This is the box that you type your post into on the post new and edit screen, it can be made longer (this often depends on the size of your screen whether is it helpful). The input box can also be made wider by using the the postings screen and setting the columns to 2: on

Post by email You can write an email post by email and send it directly to you blog. There are full instructions on how this works on following web page: http://en.support.WordPress.com/post-by-email/

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Reading Settings Front page Set to latest posts or a static page t h at you h ave setup. Blog pages show at most Set how many blog posts show on each page.

Feed setting refer to RSS (see below)

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RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Nearly all blogs are setup to use RSS (Really Simple Syndication). This just means that people can subscribe to your posts in an RSS reader such as Google Reader.
Definition  of  RSS  from  Wikipedia  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rss) RSS (most  commonly  expanded  as  "Really  Simple  Syndication")  is  a  family  of  web   feed  formats  used  to  publish  frequently  updated  works—such  as  blog  entries,  news   headlines,  audio,  and  video—in  a  standardized  format.    An  RSS  document  (which  is   called  a  "feed",  "web  feed",  or  "channel")  includes  full  or  summarized  text,  plus   metadata  such  as  publishing  dates  and  authorship.  Web  feeds  benefit  publishers  by   letting  them  syndicate  content  automatically.  They  benefit  readers  who  want  to   subscribe  to  timely  updates  from  favoured  websites  or  to  aggregate  feeds  from  many   sites  into  one  place.  RSS  feeds  can  be  read  using  software  called  an  "RSS  reader",   "feed  reader",  or  "aggregator",  which  can  be  web-­based,  desktop-­based,  or  mobile-­ device-­based.  A  standardized  XML  file  format  allows  the  information  to  be  published   once  and  viewed  by  many  different  programs.  The  user  subscribes  to  a  feed  by  entering   into  the  reader  the  feed's  URI  or  by  clicking  an  RSS  icon  in  a  web  browser  that  initiates   the  subscription  process.  The  RSS  reader  checks  the  user's  subscribed  feeds  regularly   for  new  work,  downloads  any  updates  that  it  finds,  and  provides  a  user  interface  to   monitor  and  read  the  feeds

Continued

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RSS (Really Simple Syndication) continued The ‘Reading Settings’ above control the options on how a post will be seen in the reader. Below is a screenshot of my Google reader account which is subscribed to OutTrainings blog:

The settings in WordPress.com are to show the full post in the feed not just a summary so people reading the blog in a reader will see the full post straight away without having to click a link to see more. There also additional settings to add more links including social-bookmarking sites at the bottom of the post in a reader (highlighted in red).

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Discussion Settings One of the big benefits of a blog is that people can leave comments (if you decide this is appropriate) and then if you want you can respond to the comments by commenting back yourself, in doing so engaging with your readers and creating conversation. Some popular blogs have closed comments deliberately as they do not want to allow people to comment other blogs can have a 100 comments on a post. The more comments a blog has then the more popular it will look to readers and to Google. The ‘Discussion Settings’ control whether comments are allowed or not and whether a user has to be logged in (i.e. has a WordPress.com account). WordPress has comment spam control built in. Spam messages left in comments are very common and are not always easy to spot. The comment may look genuine but there may be a link on the user name that is a promoting content that you would not want your blog to be linked to. Most comment spam is left by bots which are automated systems not requiring a human to so anything. Depending on your settings once you have a comment it will be in comments section from the left hand menu bar from here you can decide if you want to approve it, delete it or mark it as spam (see screenshot below). The same applies to Trackbacks and Pingbacks which are, put simply, just references to your blog on other blogs.

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Media Settings

The sizes listed above determine the maximum dimensions in pixels to use when inserting an image into the body of a post. All of the defaults should be fine unless you looking at getting advanced with your images.

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Privacy Settings

In these notes there is a presumption that you are setting up a blog to be found and gain more visitors but there are can be many reasons when you might not not want to be found for a period of time or even indefinitely. Also you could also keep you blog to a private community that you control.

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Users
As previously mentioned a WordPress blog can have multiple users and the Administrator (usually the person who set the blog up) can control the users rights. Users can be controlled from the users section of the main menu

If you’d like your blog to feature posts from multiple authors, you can add as many administrative accounts to your blog as you like. There are two ways to add new users: If they are already have a WordPress.com then add them on Users>Authors & Users See below for an explanation of the different roles If they are not a WordPress.com user then invite them from Users>Invites

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Users can be set to four different levels (roles): Administrator An administrator has full and complete ownership of a blog and can do absolutely everything possible. Complete power over posts/pages, comments, settings, theme choice, import, users only one administrator per blog is recommended. Editor An editor can publish, edit, and delete any posts/pages, moderate comments, manage categories, manage tags, manage links and upload files/images. Author An author can edit, publish and delete their posts, as well as upload files/images Contributor A contributor can edit their posts but cannot publish them. When a contributor creates a post, it will need to be submitted to an administrator for review. Once a contributor’s post is approved by an administrator and published, however, it may no longer be edited by the contributor. A contributor does not have the ability to upload files/images.

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Upgrades -Premium services
All of the notes are based on the free version of WordPress.com but there can be many reasons to add paid for services or even to host your blog with third party or on one of your own servers. The current services offered by WordPress.com and the prices are below:

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Appearance
The appearance of your blog can be very important to attracting and keeping readers. It can also be important to the impression you want to leave with the reader especially when looking at consistent branding for your business or product. Leaving all of the settings as default can make the blog look quite plain but probably more importantly will make it look very similar to 1000’s of blogs that have also kept the default settings. This said there are many very popular blogs that keep it very simple and plain after all “Content Is King”. Also if you reader sees your post in an RSS reader (see RSS section) or is subscribed by email they will not see your website design. You could have the most attractive blog in the world but if there is no quality content then there will be few readers. WordPress.com offer many features to change and control the look and feel of your blog. Below are just some of the main options.

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Themes A WordPress.com site’s overall look and layout is controlled by theme. Currently all WordPress.com blogs come with a default theme called Kubrick which while it is quite flexible is quite plain when first setup. Wo rd P re s s . c o m o f fe r s many themes and they can be changed in an instance. There is also a preview window if a new theme so you can see what your site might look like before selecting. You can search through all the themes and try different ones until you are happy. When looking for an appropriate theme you can use feature filters to search by:

Colour Columns – A theme can have a different number of columns on either the right or left to add additional content. Custom header – Selecting a theme with a custom header makes it possible to change the main image at the top of the blog to your own image or logo. Widgets – as many of the additional content can be added easily with widgets (see separate widgets section) is recommended that you search for a theme which supports widgets (not all do).

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Widgets A widget is a tool that allows you to add, arrange, and remove content from the sidebars of your blog. Widgets make it easy to customise the content of your blog sidebar(s). You can access the widgets from the Appearance menu in your Dashboard:

Widgets can be activated by dragging and dropping over to your sidebars on the right. Here they can be re-ordered to your preference again by drag and drop. Some of the most useful widgets have been used on the OutTraining blog and are listed below with descriptions:

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Widgets EXAMPLE DESCRIPTION Recent Posts Widget The recent posts widget gives the titles of your recently written content, so that your readers can quickly see what’s new and click through to read your latest posts. Set a title and how many posts to show.

Blog Subscriptions via email The blog subscription widget allows you to display a subscription form so that you readers can signup for blog subscriptions via email.

Text Widget The text widget allows you to enter text directly into a box. It also allows you to enter HTML. In the example on the left it is being used to display a Twitter Badge image with a link to the OutserveWeb twitter page. Text boxes are very versatile but do not support javascript which is used by some badges including Facebook. WordPress.com does not allow users to embed JavaScript. Categories Widget The categories widget alphabetically lists the categories used on your blog

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Archives The archives widget shows a monthly archive of your blog posts Twitter Widget The Twitter widget allows you to display updates from a Twitter account in the sidebar of your blog. It can be used multiple times if you want to bring in more than one Twitter account. You can decide how many tweets you include and how whether you include @ replies (public messages you have sent to other twitter users).

Delicious Widget Share the bookmarks you save to Delicious.com. Good way to share links. Requires an account at delicious.

Search Widget The search widget adds a search form for your blog.

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Vodpod Widget The Vodpod videos widget lets you display image-links to your favourite videos from around the web in your sidebar. Requires account from http://vodpod.com/.

Calendar Widget The calendar widget will create a calendar in your sidebar with clickable links to your blogs posts for a particular date. The calendar widget does not let you setup a calendar of events or anything similar. It’s only use is to display links to your posts by date. Tag Cloud Widget The tag cloud widget will display a cloud-like selection of your tags, with the tags most used appearing larger than the ones least used – this gives an at a glance view of your favourite subjects, and lets your readers know the things you write most commonly about.

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Change your Header Image Changing the Theme and adding widgets can make your site more attractive but it still is not original in design many people can be using that design and those widgets. One significant item that you can change to make your blog design unique is change the header image for one of your own. The image could be personal favourites, relevant to your blog or include you logo. To change your header images you need to have a theme which supports customised headers (you can use the theme search filters to find these). Navigate to Appearance>Custom header. From here you can often change colours and styles of the image but it is far more effective to change the image completely.

The header image screen will show the exact dimensions of the header image (in the case of Kubrick above this is 740 x192). If the image you have is larger than this WordPress will help you crop the image although it is better to have prepared image with right dimensions (if you do not have any image editing software you could download Gimp from http://www.gimp.org/)

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In the example blog http://outtraining.wordpress.com the theme was changed to Coraline which included by default the image below.

For the purpose of this blog an image was found on Flickr with a creative commons license and permission was requested to crop it and use it for the blog. The image w a s c ro p p e d t o t h e e x a c t dimensions (990 × 180 pixels)and uploaded from the customer header page.

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Pages As well as the main blog page where all posts are shown in reverse chronological order you can add other pages to your blog making it look and act more like a traditional website. If required any of these pages can be set to be your home page. The default home page can be set in Settings>Reading Settings

A page can be created and edited from the main editing tool bar on the left

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Badges and Widgets
Badges are a quick and easy way to link people to your Twitter or Facebook pages. Often these badges are put on an organisations website or blog. The simplest badge, which has become very popular, is a ‘Find us on Facebook®’ Badge normally a simple Facebook® logo promoting a link to your Facebook® page. As below: This badge is available from Facebook® (http://www.Facebook.com/note.php? note_id=12259414821)

The HTML below is used for the Text Widget. Of course you will want to change the link, in bold below, to be your Facebook® Page (the image link refers to my Flickr page but this should work for everybody)

HTML < a h r e f = "http://www.Facebook.com/LottyBox" > < i m g s r c = " / http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2768/4332871421_e7b6348a22_o.jpg"></a>

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Legal Disclaimer
These notes contain general information only. Nothing in these pages constitutes legal advice. You should consult a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter. Outserve Ltd makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about: any of the content on these notes (including, without limitation, any as to the quality, accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose of such content); or any content of any other web site referred to or accessed by hypertext link through these ("3rd party site"). Outserve Ltd does not endorse or approve the content of any 3rd party site, nor will Outserve Ltd have any liability in connection with any of them (including, but not limited to, liability arising out of any allegation that the content of any 3rd party site infringes any law or the rights of any person or entity). Any enquiries should be directed to the philip.oakley@outserve.co.uk

Copyright notice
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© Outserve Ltd 2011 Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0

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