Tag Archives: blogs

WordPress 3.8 “Parker” Is Here, And It’s Gorgeous

WordPress 3.8 “Parker” Is Here, And It’s Gorgeous

If you’re a WordPress blogger, you’ve been waiting for 3.8 codenamed “Parker” with impatience. It’s finally here, right on time, and it’s gorgeous. Get the details of the changes here.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the new dashboard is sleeker. You can set the color scheme, choosing from eight styles when you first update to 3.8. If you want to change the admin color scheme after that, as I did, go to your profile page to change it.

Widgets under control: yippee!

With older versions of WordPress, widgets were a pain to manage and install. So much so, that whenever I thought of making changes, I avoided it, unless the change I wanted to make was absolutely essential. Dragging widgets to where you wanted them, even with a large monitor, was frustrating.

Now you can click on a widget, and a menu pops up, so you can add it to the widget area you want. Much more relaxing.

New theme: Twenty Fourteen, a magazine theme

I’ve been eager to try out the new default WordPress theme, Twenty Fourteen. I love Twenty Thirteen, which I use on this blog, and on my freelance writing blog.

The big benefit of using default WordPress themes? Fewer headaches. Over the years, I’ve used many commercial themes, and while some were wonderful, there were always headaches.

The holidays will be perfect for testing Twenty Fourteen for those of my blogging clients who want a good magazine theme.

So, what are you waiting for? WordPress 3.8 is here. Head for your blog’s dashboard, and install it. You’ll be enthralled. I can’t wait to explore and discover more of the changes to our beloved WordPress.

If you’re not yet a blogger,  and are wondering how to get started, here you go: Blogging Maestro helps you to become a top blogger.

, and on Twitter: @angee

Blogging To Books: Can You Turn Your Blog Into a Book?

Blogging To Books: Can You Turn Your Blog Into a Book?

You’re blogging. You’ve got a blog, and would like to turn it into a book. I’m coaching two writers who are doing that.

One writer’s been blogging for over a year. He’s using his blog as the basis for his book, revising and updating posts. The other writer hasn’t create a blog yet; he’s blogging his book as he goes along.

Over the past weeks, I’ve received many questions about turning blogs into books, so let’s look at a couple of options.

1. You’ve got great content, which would make a book.

Gina Trapani of Lifehacker was approached by literary agents on the strength of the Lifehacker blog:

That’s the power of a consistent blog that builds its readership over time: instead of my pitching a book to an agent, and agent came to me. Since that initial contact by David (who did become my agent), SIX other literary agents contacted me asking about a Lifehacker book.

You don’t have to wait around for literary agents. Compile some of your content into an ebook. Ebooks are forever:

Trading hours for dollars, no matter how profitable those hours may be, is a dead end. The words you write are paid for and done.

When you self-publish, on the other hand, you’re investing in your future. You may make just a few dollars initially, but if you write good books, in areas which are selling, your income will steadily rise. Your books will sell for years.

Consider this: your enthusiastic readers, if they love your blog, will be only too eager to read your book.

As Gina says in her articles, find a theme which will work as a book, then use your blog posts to create your ebook.

2. You want to write a book, but… it’s scary.

I love writing books. Here’s why: I’ve been doing it for years. It’s natural to me. If you do something often enough, it becomes easy. In a sense, of course. Writing is a slog, but once you know what you’re doing, you can have a lot of fun with it.

That’s a clue: writing your first book is scary. I’ve told the story many times: when I wrote my first novel, I sat at my typewriter day after day, with tears running down my face. My hands shook as I rolled two sheets of paper, with carbon paper sandwiched between them, onto the platen.

All these years later, those memories amaze me. I was a real glutton for punishment.

If you’re scared too, why not sneak up on your book? Blog. In New Blogger? Why Free Services Are Good For Newbies, I said:

… your blog helps you to write every day – this is a wonderful habit… and it’s harder to develop than you might think. Of course, on the other side of the coin, you have those writers who don’t want to write “for free”. If you feel this way, consider that you can DO STUFF with your blog — why not turn it into a book, or a series of books?

Writing a blog post is a lot less scary than sitting down at your computer, and thinking to yourself: “OK, Self. Let’s write a book.”

Try it. Blog. Sneak up on your book, by blogging. Before you know it, you’ll have a mass of material which will make a wonderful book, or ebook.

 

, and on Twitter: @angee

Blogging Without Fear: 5 Easy Forms of Content You Can Create FAST

5 Easy Forms of Content You Can Create FAST

Scared of blogging? If blogging terrifies you because you have no idea how you’ll feed the content beast, relax. It’s easier than you think. All you need is a little inspiration, and a dash of creativity.

Let’s look at five easy forms of content you can create fast, and without breaking a sweat.

1. Gimme a tip: everyone loves tip posts, so share your tips with abandon.

This is a tip post. I create them because I’m a sucker for ALL tip posts, especially if I know an area well. Curiosity drives clicks – readers want to find that single GEM amongst your tips which will help them.

2. Tips and more tips: expand on your tip posts with additional tips.

Written one tip post?

Write another one. I could write another tip post to follow this one: Another 5 Easy Forms of Content You Can Create FAST. And I could write another one after that. Tip posts are fast to create. You know what the post’s structure is; just write your tips.

Here’s the benefit of writing tips in an area: you can collect all your tips into a HUGE “everything you want to know about Topic X” tip post. An example: 101 Easy Forms of Content You Can Create FAST.

Then, I could publish the “everything” tips as an ebook. Or chop them up and create videos from them.

The tips magic needn’t stop there. You can break out each one of your tips in any post into:

  • A new blog post, expanding on just one tip – if your original post contained five tips, you could break out the post into five articles. Or more.
  • Social media snippets. You can get lots more value of each tip, sharing more insights on each tip on social media.

Think of each tip post you create as a fruit tree. You can pick lots of fruit from the trees in the orchard of your blog.

3. Keep it short, sweetie: just the facts and the takeaway.

Some of my most popular posts on my blogs are asides – 25 to 50 words on something I wanted to share quickly. These posts are wonderful, because they’re FAST.

Here’s the key to short posts: value. You need to be clear – explain what you’re sharing and why it’s important. Your short post also needs a takeaway: something the reader can try out and use right now. Alternatively, your post needs to be entertaining. If you can do both: provide information and entertainment in an aside, you’re golden.

4. Go BIG with images: a picture gets the feeling across, and helps readers remember you and your post.

Have you discovered Pinterest? Pinterest is a wonderful marketing tool, and it teaches a great lesson: ATTENTION is what counts. Images get attention, so use big, bold images to add emotion and another layer of meaning to your blog posts.

You can share your image posts on Pinterest, and Google+. Great images will spice up your content.

5. Create link posts. They’re fast to create AND they bring traffic.

As popular as asides are; link posts are just as popular. (That’s annoying sometimes. You slave over content, and then a short and simple LINK POST gets more attention. ;-))

You can post a single link with a short comment, or a collection of links.

Bonus tip (for longterm bloggers): Polish up the past. Scour your archives for great material you can update.

If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ve got lots of wonderful content. Sadly, it’s buried. Bring it back to life. Create “one year later” or “this time last year” posts to bring attention to your hidden gems. (Add a glitzy image for even more attention…)

I shared these five content-creation strategies with some of my blogging students. The general reaction was: “I can do that!” So, if these tips work for new bloggers, they’ll work for you too. :-)
, and on Twitter: @angee

Interesting Google+ Blog post about author attribution and embedded posts.

Excellent ideas, but as far as I can see right now, there’s no way to use a Google profile to log into WordPress.com or Typepad, and in my Google+ stream, the “embedded posts” option doesn’t show up. Yet.

The operative words on the Google+ Blog post seem to be “Starting today”

So not yet available. OK.

Last Week On the Blog: Content, Online Selling, Easy Websites and More

Adobe Muse Templates

Adobe Muse Templates

Here’s what we talked about last week. We discussed blogging, creating content easy websites for small business, and much more.

Stop the Excuses, and BLOG! (Even if you think you have no time)

You’re not blogging? Why not? You don’t have time? Consider making time. Blogging may just be the most important thing you can do for your business, going forward. There are endless reasons you need a blog.

Read the article.

Content Merry-Go-Round: 5 Easy Ways to Create Content For Your Blog

In this article, we talking about resistance, and five easy ways to create content for your blog.

Creativity: How to Get More Ideas

Want to goose your creativity muscle? Make it a habit to create ten ideas a day. The results will amaze you. Most of your ideas will be worthless, but some will be truly valuable. A great idea can change your life.

Read the article.

Content, Content! Top Ten Tips For Creating Content Your Readers Will Love

You need to create content, and you’re all out of inspiration. Here are ten tips which will help you to create fresh, exciting content for your readers. With this slide deck, you’ll never run out of content ideas again.

Selz: Online Selling Made Easy, Even for Digital Downloads

Want a simple way to sell online? No matter whether you want to sell just a couple of items, or whether you want a complete online store, you can now sell online without hassles.

Read the article.

Easy Websites For Small Business: Get Online Fast With Adobe Muse

Muse is an HTML editor which helps you to create wonderful websites, without writing any code. Adobe has lots of videos to get you started creating with Muse. If you can use a word processor, you can use Muse.

Read the article.

Gingko: This Clever Word Processor May Help If You Hate Writing

Hate writing? If you do, that’s fine. I HATED writing with a passion for years. Odd for a writer, but in those days, I didn’t have a writing process.

This new word processing app may help if writing is a hassle for you.

Get More Done: Use Your Brain’s Brilliant Operating System

Want to get more done? Here’s a simple method which works. Use your brain’s brilliant operating system. You’re using that operating system constantly, but unfortunately, we use it to block ourselves, rather than using it to get more stuff done.

Read the article.

, and on Twitter: @angee

WordPress Blogger? New Media Explorer Coming Up

Add media

Add media

Happy days if you’re blogging on WordPress.com, lucky you! You can now  search for and embed tweets and YouTube videos at a click.

The WordPress blog says:

Using the Media Explorer, you can now insert tweets and YouTube videos without ever leaving WordPress.

This tool lets you search Twitter and YouTube from inside the “Insert Media” window in your WordPress.com Dashboard, which makes it easy to find and embed relevant Tweets and videos in your posts and pages.

I tried it out on my WordPress.com blog.

It’s easy. Just click the Add Media button when you’re creating a new post (as in the image above).

Insert a tweet

 

On the Insert Media page, just click Insert Tweet, or Insert YouTube. In the above image, I clicked on Insert Tweet/ By User.

3byuser

As you can see above, recent tweets by user @angee (me) appear.

Click on the tweet you want to insert, then click the Insert Into Post button.

You’ll just see a link, until the post is previewed or published.

Here’s the preview of the tweet in the post:

4preview

 

As you can see, the tweet is embedded in the post.

Sadly, Media Explorer is not yet available on self-hosted WordPress blogs

Techcrunch reports:

The tool is immediately available for WordPress.com and WordPress.com VIP users, and is coming soon to self-hosted WordPress blogs through Jetpack.

I love this new way of inserting other media into WordPress. It works brilliantly; you can search for what you want within your blog.

Fingers crossed it comes to self-hosted blogs soon. Love WordPress… :-)

 

Yahoo Bought Tumblr: Oh, The Horror

Tumblr themes
Creatives love Tumblr

I love Tumblr, because it’s fun, fast and super-easy to use. I created my Tumblr blog for all the stuff I want to remember online, which doesn’t fit onto my other blogs. There’s no serious intention behind that particular blog; it’s a giggle.

You’d think that Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr wouldn’t matter much to me — I don’t have much of an investment there. If it all goes to hell, I hope they’d give people time to move their stuff, as Posterous did, before it closed up shop.

The acquisition does affect me however. I’ve been helping clients to create little outposts on Tumblr for their businesses; I also encourage my writing students to blog on Tumblr.

What concerns my clients and students concerns me, and I’ve been telling anyone who asked, just to sit tight and see what happens.

On the official Tumblr blog, Tumblr boss David Karp says:

…. let me try to allay any concerns: We’re not turning purple. Our headquarters isn’t moving. Our team isn’t changing. Our roadmap isn’t changing. And our mission – to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve – certainly isn’t changing.

So what’s new? Simply, Tumblr gets better faster. The work ahead of us remains the same – and we still have a long way to go! – but with more resources to draw from.

OK… We won’t panic, then. :-)

If you’ve been wondering why Yahoo bought Tumblr, John Battelle knows: native advertising (content as a form of advertising), which is the hot new online advertising trend. Everyone’s a content marketer now.

He writes in, Yahoo! And Tumblr: It’s About Display, Streams & Native at Scale | John Battelle’s Search BlogJohn Battelle’s Search Blog:

“The reason native works is because the advertising is treated as a unit of content on the platform where it lives. That may seem obvious, but it’s an important observation. When a brands’s content competes on equal footing alongside a publisher’s content, everyone wins. “

So, there you go. If you’re looking pale and feeling shaky, buck up. Tumblr isn’t Posterous. Let’s take David Karp and Marissa Mayer at their word, and carry on.

Want Free Advertising? Here You Go

Vintage ad - Lucky
Ah, the halcyon days of advertising. Smoking’s been outlawed, advertising’s painfully expensive… and often just don’t work.

If you’re tired of spending too much on advertising, there’s an alternative. As I said in this article, 5-Minute Blogger: 300 Seconds to Success | Angela Booth’s Fab Freelance Writing Blog:

Why blog? Two words: free advertising.

As Hubspot points out, the blog post is the new advertising unit.

If you want to get paid to write, you need to advertise. Unfortunately, not only does advertising cost money, it’s also ephemeral. You pay, your message gets out, and when you stop paying, your message is GONE.”

I nag people to blog. My clients, my writing students… nag, nag, nag… BLOG!

These days, advertising just doesn’t work as well as it used to. Your audience is everywhere, and nowhere.

This means that you need to try different things. Will blogging work for your business? I have no idea. However, it couldn’t hurt, could it?

You can blog in five minutes a day

Blogging may be a wonderful idea, however, it takes time. It’s much easier to run the same advertising you’ve been running for years, even if it no longer works as well as it should.

Read the article I quoted above. You CAN blog in five minutes a day. Others do it, why not you?

If you need help with your blogging, you can contact me. I’m happy to work with you to set up your blogging program — even to blog for you, if you like.

Just blog. Seriously — you’re missing out if you don’t.

Image

Will Your Site Die With Google Reader?

Death of Google Reader

If you’re a Web publisher, or do content marketing, some of your website’s traffic comes from Google Reader. Sadly, Google Reader is going away. Soon — on July 1, to be precise.

That’s a worry. What will happen to all those readers who find you via your RSS feed? They may not use Reader directly, but many news readers depend on Google Reader. My own preferred reader, Reeder, certainly does.

When Reader goes, your readers will still get their news fix, but their new news reader may not list your blog.

Check your traffic logs. How much traffic do the news readers send you?

Your traffic might collapse in July. As What If The Google Reader Readers Just Don’t Come Back? | TechCrunch points out:

“As my site has grown, Reader has become an increasingly important way for people to read my site. And it has clearly driven a lot of that growth. That all ends this coming July.”

As many people have pointed out, there’s always email.

Convince your readers to subscribe to your email list

Encourage subscriptions. The challenge is that we all get too much email already, so few people will sign up. I don’t need any more email either. I stuff most of my email in a To Read (one day) folder. We’re all busy.

Is there another solution? Share yours, please.

Angela Booth is an Australian copywriter, Web writer and content strategist. Want your website to do more for your business? Contact Angela via email to set up a chat. She loves to talk about business and the Web.

photo credit: Lawrence OP via photopin cc

Hacked WordPress Blogs and What to Do About It

Hacked Blog

I have many, many WordPress blogs. Before WordPress, I used several other blogging platforms.

Although I still use these other platforms, WordPress is my favorite. If I want to create a site, my brain defaults to WordPress.

This means that I’m NOT thrilled that WordPress has become a magnet for hackers. After going through several hacks, I thought I’d become blasé about it, but a hack still infuriates me.

Last night, when I noticed that the RSS feed to one of my blogs had vanished, I tried to access the blog. However, all that appeared was a “password” dialogue box. Oh geez, give me strength… ANOTHER expletive deleted HACK.

Normally it wouldn’t be a problem. However, my blog technician’s on vacation, so I had to find someone else.

I did, on fiver — all fixed.

You’d be amazed at what you can find on Fiverr.

I thought this was cute:

Fiverr

The problem with my WordPress blog turned out to be the Jetpack plugin, which contains many other plugins. One had a vulnerability, and some smarty took advantage of that.

What to do if your WordPress blog is hacked

If you’re anything like me, you’ll panic. Don’t do that, it’s not necessary. Your blog can be fixed, often it’s something very simple. My first option is always to get someone else to fix it, I’m a writer, not a technician.

You’ll find some solutions online. Do a Google search for whatever the problem seems to be.

For example, if suddenly your WordPress site comes up as someone else’s site (often a porn site) it can mean that your .htaccess file was hacked. TellingDad has a fix.

Once you’ve fixed the problem, Savvy Scot has some great advice for keeping your WordPress blog safe:

Firstly, I would recommend that you turn off the feature that users can automatically register in WordPress. This is something that I had turned off originally, but after updating WordPress, it must have reverted to allow this. Consequently, I had about 180 ‘subscribers’ register with bogus email addresses. I am sure that there is some sort of vulnerability in WordPress where this might allow users to gain access to a subdirectory of the WP-INCLUDES folder.

So, in summary, if you get hacked, try to relax; it will be OK. Your blog will be fine. Try to fix it yourself if you can, if you can’t there are people who can help.

Happy blogging… :-)

And I should add — if you need help with your blogging, you can contact me and tell me what you need. Or just contact me to chat, either on Twitter — @angee — or on Google+. If you dislike social media, send me an email message.

photo credit: drakegoodman via photopin cc