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

Google+ Attribution and Embedded Posts: Fine, But HOW?

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.