If you’re here as part of the Summer Biannual Blogathon Bash for 2013, welcome!  (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can check out the bash here!)  I hopefully have three interesting posts for you to view and work with, and some fun mini challenges to boot!  You can join in at any time, and if you still need to sign up to try to win one of the amazing prizes available this round, now is the time to do so!  Wishing you all the best blogathon bash ever! Have fun! 🙂

Biannual Blogathon Bash

You’ve must have heard of the Cloud before (I’d be shocked if it wasn’t added to Webster’s dictionary yet,) in fact I’ve just realised that I spoke about the cloud on this site already…  let me go grab that post! BRB…

Okay, so for the first part of this challenge, you are to read this: Want a Faster Blog? Take Your Images to the Cloud!

For a bit of re-iteration, the cloud acts much like how torrents do.  Remember, back in the day when you downloaded a torrent (for something totally legal, like… well, there had to be a legal reason for torrents right?) and only 1 person was around for you to download the entire file from.  You could sit there and beg and plead for another two or three people that had that exact same file you wanted to download to come online just so the download speed would be faster.  Really early on, in the days of dial-up, the difference of speed was equivalent to either taking days to download one simple file versus hours.  Remember that?

The cloud works much in the same venue; your files are held in multiple, fast running cloud servers and that allows for your readers’ computers to render (see) the images faster.  ‘Cause by uploading those images to your current non-cloud single-server, your readers are watching your images appear as fast as one server can handle.  Bottom line: work with the Cloud makes it all that much faster for you.

Now back to Cloudinary

If you have a popular blog, the free subscription isn’t all that great if you want to host ALL of your blog images with them. I ran through the 1GB of monthly bandwidth in two weeks! Eek!  This brought me horrific flashbacks to the days of photobucket and the trials of hotlinking, and those are simply bad memories that should stay in the past.  The really admirable thing about Cloudinary is that they don’t immediately take your pictures down once you’ve past your bandwidth limit for that month, they keep everything working smoothly so that only you would know that you have to upgrade your account as soon as possible,  and your readers can still see your fabulous blog posts without interruption.

I decided to look into the subscriptions further, ’cause I really do love the service.  Cloudinary has made it so easy to add blog images to your post without much effort on your part, but this is what I saw for subscription ranges.

Cloudinary Subscriptions

Yeah, for me? That basic plan would be a no-can-do-pal-plan!

As much as I’m turning blogging into a business, I don’t yet have the cash-flow to validate $40/month.  If you’re not techy-inclined, and can afford that price tag though? Go for it!  With the cloudinary plugin for wordpress, your site will be loading fast and your readers will love you for it (and if you’re on blogger, uploading pictures will be the equivalent of using photobucket instead of Blogger’s in-house photo management system.)

EDIT (June 23, 2013): I received this comment from Cloudinary, though I’m not sure why its not showing up below…  There’s great news for bloggers!

“Hi Aeryn. Thank you so much for writing about Cloudinary!
Cloudinary actually has a smaller plan that might better suit your needs. This plan covers 10GB of monthly bandwidth and 2GB of storage, for $10/month or $9 if paid annually. It’s not yet listed in our pricing page (which is still more focused on our website developers than our WordPress community). To upgrade your account to this new plan, login to your Cloudinary account and use the following link – https://cloudinary.com/users/upgrade/small. 
Hope it helps! Itai, Cloudinary”

If you ARE techy-inclined though, Amazon’s S3 cloud servers will be much better for your needs and I completely recommend taking advantage of their products.  First of all, if you haven’t set up an account with them yet, you’ll get your first year free with 5GB of hard drive space to do with as you please, and the rest of the details can be found here.

I have a ton of images stored for a multiple of sites and I’m only paying about $1.50 to $2 a month for its use.  Amazon, thanks to being an utter giant, can afford to make file store extremely cheap.  So cheap that hundreds of millions of apps and online software rely on Amazon to run their servers for them, in fact – Cloudinary’s entire server space sits within Amazon’s servers.  So they pay Amazon while you pay them (if you upgrade your plan.)

If you don’t believe me, check out this pricing chart from Amazon (and yes, TB does stand for terabyte.)

Amazon's AWS S3 Price Chart for US Standard

I wanted to write a how-to on using Amazon’s AWS, but I can’t write everything you need to know and do in one blog post… its actually more like a How To book, so yeah… I’ll let you know what that’s completed!

For you Mini Challenge pleasure…

If you haven’t already done so, create a free account in Cloudinary (NB. I just found out this morning that I have access to a link that will increase my account bandwidth if I share their program with you, so I will be sorta compensated in bandwidth if you decide to join,) and upload a set of images that you’ll be using for a blog post this weekend (or go into your blog archives and find a post that you’d like to improve the image loading quality of.)

Once you’re logged in, click on Media Library and drag and drop all the photos you wish to upload into the box provided.  Once those images are uploaded, you can click on each image to find their specific link that you’ll be using to add images to your post.

Copy image link in Cloudinary.

As you can see, Cloudinary also has an image editor to the left of the image if you require any last-minute changes! 🙂

Once you have the links, you can attach these images to your blog posts regardless of your blogging platform (WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, etc…)

This part won’t be part of this challenge, because this change depends on how well you know your blogs theme/template, (and get help if you need to,) but you’ll see a great improvement on your site’s loading time by using the cloud to host your blog’s header/logo image.  This image is shown on every page and is THE most common image that any browser will have to download/read to show any given website.  If you have a rather large image that takes forever to see when you’re accessing the front end of your website, you can change the speed of your site immensely just by moving this one image to a cloud account like Cloudinary.  Again, this may require fooling around with the code of your template, so get help to do this if you need to!

Let me know in the comments section below when you’ve completed this challenge! 🙂