So Many Challenges, So Little Time!

Faded advert on a garage wall

Faded advert on a garage wall

…and that’s excluding real world challenges, as this post is about blogging ones. These pictures were inspired by Nancy Merrill’s challenge: Textures.

Nancy is one of several community-spirited WordPress bloggers who fill the breach left by the late (still lamented) Daily Post Photo Challenge. I met many blogging buddies through the Daily Post and loved seeing their sometimes wildly individual takes on each subject. The official WordPress format made it a cinch to navigate. When the challenge ended I felt dispirited, not foreseeing that the mantle would pass to so many other hosts.

Cee Neuner maintains a useful list of WordPress challenges in the For The Love Of Challenges section of her blog. My hat’s off to Cee – her list is more inclusive and up to date than the Daily Post’s list ever was. She lists photography and writing challenges and I’ve just noticed a couple of musical ones are listed too, although I know from experience not to inflict my musical taste on anyone not similarly afflicted. ūüôā

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Creating a Community Through Blogging: A Q&A with Cee Neuner of Cee’s Photography

My first ever reblog, but I wanted to share a feature on Discover that I really enjoyed – Cheri Lucas Rowlands’ interview with Cee Neuer. Cee’s challenges add so much to the fun of blogging. If you haven’t visited her site yet, you’re missing out.

Discover

By nature, blogging is communal ‚ÄĒ we write publicly and interact with readers. Some people, like Cee Neuner at Cee‚Äôs Photography, have built communities around their sites. Cee hosts weekly photo challenges that not only encourage people to practice their shooting skills ‚ÄĒ they provide a welcoming space for bloggers around the world to connect. Here, Cee talks about her love for photography and what motivated her to launch challenges on her site.


What is your philosophy around photography?

Cee with her camera

I am a visual person, so being behind a camera and looking for beauty and color is in my DNA. I take photos because I enjoy it. The world comes alive. I love looking through my viewfinder: I see life so much clearer than I do without the lens. I am fortunate as I have a natural ability for composition, and that makes taking photos so…

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Embracing Change: The New WordPress Reader

I’m a big fan of WordPress. It never stays still. Any half-experienced WordPress blogger knows that every so often they’re going to be briefly blindsided by one of those changes that suddenly happens. Of course it can be disconcerting Рa bit like waking to find out that Santa Claus rearranged the furniture overnight as a kind of thank you for leaving him such tasty mince pies with his glass of milk, and now the picture of Aunt Mamie seems to have disappeared.  Continue reading

On learning to code: all being equal

Almost equal to symbols

Reading and writing English with reasonable competency means you expect to be able to understand anything written in English. Not at the first reading, but with patience and persistence. I’m starting to realize coding may be an exception.

As someone coming to terms with = not meaning ‚Äėequal to‚Äô, and == not meaning it either (we need === to be completely sure), I felt a warm flash of feeling for maths today when I realized there‚Äôs a sign for ‚Äėalmost equal to‚Äô.

It’s like an equal sign but with wiggly lines to symbolize the cognitive dissonance. I’ve used several of them for the header in an attempt to make it more decorative, but unlike real equals signs, you only need one of these to be certain (or rather, make that uncertain). So far as I understand.   Continue reading

Making Less Say More: Microcopy for Bloggers

Microcopy
noun

Used by professional writers to refer to short but crucial snippets of writing, set aside from the copy (the main body of text). Used on menus, buttons, forms and widgets etc.

plural: microcopy

etymology:
micro- + copy (from the Latin root copia meaning plenty)

If you’re short of time, you’ll get my drift¬†by scrolling down to see screen shot examples of microcopy.¬†Click on the¬†graphics to visit the original sites. For those able to linger, this longread post celebrates thoughtfully composed microcopy, mostly¬†found here on WordPress.

Why use microcopy?

Microcopy is a modern day telegram: we use it¬†to pass on useful messages to¬†our readers¬†in¬†the least words. Partly we’re forced to be concise¬†by¬†space constraints, but we also know the more words we write, the less likely people are to read them. And¬†we usually want microcopy to stand out enough to be read, for example:

  • Follow this blog
  • Leave a comment
  • Read my previous post
  • Buy this book
  • Follow me on social media
  • Contact me
  • Read more

Two of my passions come together in my admiration for great microcopy¬†–¬†language and marketing. It‚Äôs an overlooked art form: a fun way to finesse your blog ‚Äď but there‚Äôs a serious side too.¬† Continue reading

The Art of Commenting: what holds us back and how we can fix it

The art of commenting

When people leave comments on your site, is replying a pleasure or a chore? And away from your blog, do you reach out to other bloggers through their comment sections and become an active part of their communities, or do you remain a page view shadow: a small, silent jolt up their stats, identifiable only by your place on earth?

In this post, I’m coming from the angle that while we certainly don’t need to leave a comment on a blog post we’ve enjoyed, it’s not good to feel inhibited or uneasy about commenting.

I’d love it if we all felt free to comment, if we wished, and understood the etiquette when we do.  Continue reading

WordPress tips: how to block a site in the Reader

Browsing my¬†Reader reminded me of a nifty WordPress feature you‚Äôll love if the subjects you enjoy are often ‘hijacked’ by less scrupulous bloggers – or if you want to block anyone who¬†is¬†going too far.¬†It‚Äôs hidden in plain sight so you may not have noticed it.

I’m not talking about bloggers you are following,¬†but some of the ones who¬†appear when you explore topics.¬†Tag-hoggers who clutter up your Reader with multiple posts you don’t want to see again. Ever. ¬† Continue reading

Your opinion, please!

(Poll now closed)

I’m sure many of you have a¬†piggybank of ideas for future blog posts, either in your head or jotted down somewhere. Me too!

The trouble is my piggybank is a bit too full after my travels, so I thought I would appeal for your help to decide which posts I should share first. Continue reading

Blogging tips: tags and categories

Think of tags and categories (and their associated widgets) as free adverts for your post – on your blog and in the wider WordPress community – and make them work for you and your visitors.

Use tags and categories to:

  • Help bloggers discover your post in The Reader
  • Place sign posts on your blog so visitors can find other content that interests them while they‚Äôre there
  • Organise your blog and link posts by subject matter
  • Review what you‚Äôve achieved so far and plan where you‚Äôre going

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Polls and surveys – are they irritating or enlightening?

On WordPress.com we all have the option to add polls and surveys. Done well, they¬†can give us¬†valuable feedback. Done badly, they can be irritating, provide meaningless or misleading information, and can even change our visitors’ opinions for the worse. Don’t believe me? Here’s an example many of us will have seen on WordPress. Ever clicked on ‘Visit the old stats page’?¬†The first thing you’ll see is a poll. A poorly¬†worded one:

Why do you prefer this Stats page?

  • It’s faster
  • It shows more information
  • It’s less confusing
  • I’m used to it

Vote

I don’t prefer the old stats page. I click the old stats button once in a while because it’s temptingly placed at the bottom of my stats. I remember vaguely that there’s something extra on the old stats, but don’t recall what it might be.¬† Continue reading

Thinking of taking a Blogging101 course? Here’s my review.

Over the last four weeks, I‚Äôve been through the Blogging101 experience. I’ve had the odd high and low, but overall it’s been brilliant. I’m sending my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to my classmates and the WordPress team. This review is for bloggers¬†who¬†feel tempted to register for¬†the course and¬†those who’ve been taking part themselves.

First, here’s a link to the official BloggingU¬†information¬†‚Äď read on for my¬†inside, but unofficial view!¬† Continue reading