7 Steps to a User-Friendly Blog

Love these tips. Gonna get right on some of these, too.

Myths of the Mirror

This isn’t a new topic, but it seems worth a mention every now and then within the WordPress blog community. I love connecting with other bloggers and occasionally a website makes that hard if not impossible to do. Here are a few tips. 🙂

Definitely take a look at these if:

  • You are leaving likes and comments on other blogs and not getting return visits.
  • Everyone likes your old posts and seems to ignore your recent posts.
  • You’ve changed your blog address at any time (WP may still be directing your readers to the old deleted site!)

1. Make sure your links to your site are working. Unfortunately, this isn’t handled in just one place:

  • In your blog profile: Go to WP Admin – Users – My Profile. At the bottom of the page, make sure your website address is correct.
  • In your gravatar: Go to WP Admin – Users…

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Open Book Blog Hop: How and Why I Started Blogging

This post is in response to the prompt provided by the Open Book Blog Hop. Today’s topic is: How’d You Start Your Business, Blog, Or Freelance Career?

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How’d I start my blog?

With fear and trembling. Seriously, it was a challenge to get started but super rewarding once I did. But, in case you want details, I invite you to read on. Then, please me leave a message with your thoughts, or about your own blogging experience.

The Beginning:

I’ve been blogging for a few years, I’d say roughly four, not including last year’s sabbatical. The journey began back when I decided to get serious about writing. I wanted to share my stories with people but didn’t have the means to do it. A blog seemed like a good idea but I was just starting out. I had no major contacts, no experience, had never managed anything like a blog before. And, who cared enough about me and my writing to read my posts, anyway? The whole thing seemed scary and unattainable. That said, the need to try, as well as to take charge of the problem, won out.

So, I had my mission. But how and where to begin?

At the time, I was active on Google+ where I had met many supportive people at various stages in their own writing pursuits. One thing I noticed about most of the successful ones was that they had writing blogs. This made sense, since the marketing wisdom at the time urged writers to develop strong writing platforms. This usually included an active blog. As for me, I was writing stories at an incredible pace, and had become a moderator of two writing communities. Also, I had published my first book, The Purple Morrow. After about a year, I finally felt I had enough experience to take the plunge.

Still, the idea scared me. I mean, nothing is worse than being excited about a piece when no one else is. Worse, what if no one notices my articles or comments on them? In the end, though, I put all that negative thinking aside and got to work.

The first attempt was on Blogspot. The benefit was that it was connected to G+ so, right away, it gained attention and feedback. I named it Purple Pebbles…not sure why anymore, except that purple is my favorite color. I posted stories, poems, and short essays about my writing experience, and was genuinely surprised at the positive response. The blog enabled me to meet and engage many new G+ people, and easily follow and interact with current contacts. Lastly, it boosted my confidence.

excited

The Middle:

Then came the move to WordPress. People had told me that WordPress was the way to go if I wanted to reach even more people. They also argued that the platform itself was better. So, after worrying about using a new tool and whether or not people would follow me, I made the switch. I named it Dropped Pebbles in reference to the idea that every author has a unique voice, and our words resonate beyond the written page. Then things really took off. Being able to share posts via multiple social media platforms at once, including the vast WordPress community, opened new doors. Then followed blogging awards, requests to guest blog or to contribute to e-magazines, blogging about my writing ups and downs, book reviews, and invited guests. I particularly enjoyed hosting author features and author interviews. I knew how hard it was to get books in front of potential readers, so it was important to me to help in any way I could.

whirlwind

Looking back, the whole thing feels like a blur. After being away for over a year, I am still surprised at the whole experience. Surprised and grateful. People are busier these days more than ever, so the fact that they took time to read, comment on, and share my blog still means a lot.

Not Quite the End:

Dropped Pebbles was closed for a while, but I decided to test the waters again. When I started blogging, my original goal was to establish myself as a serious writer, as well as to use my experiences to help other hopefuls navigate the pitfalls that plague our Great Writing Adventure. This time around, my goals are a little more humble. I’m coming back to the game somewhat out of practice but with more realistic expectations about said adventure.

Still, I’m here now, seeing things with fresh eyes and a different point of view.

*grins* But more on that another time.



Neat Little Gem: Dan Stevers’ ‘Son of Man’

This post isn’t about writing, but it does touch on Art and, in particular, a form I really enjoy, animation.

Over the years, I’ve struggled to find non-cringe-worthy Christian media content. Some of you out there know what I mean, and probably have your own Cringe List in mind. (I had stopped reading Christian content books for a long time because of this, and movies had an even worse track record).

But, the tide seems to be changing! Today, while watching anime (one of my favorite past times), I spotted a mini-movie. The image was striking: Jesus wearing the crown of thorns, in animation format. It was a preview of a longer movie by Dan Stevers, only 2 minutes long called, Son of Man. I clicked on it out of curiosity. And was pleasantly surprised.  So much so, I decided to blog about it.

Dan Stevers – Son of Man from DanStevers.com on Vimeo.

If you’ve got some time to spare, and are wanting to watch something inspirational (we so need that nowadays), check it out. And encourage someone who’s working just as hard on something he loves as the rest of us are.

New Bloggers, Blogging and Life

Thoughtful comments about why we blog and how we can make the most of the experience.

Find Your Middle Ground

blogging and life

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon recently with new bloggers. Perhaps, if you are reading this, then you may have noticed as well. There are flurries of Likes one after an other and then a Follow.

I doubt this new generation has superhuman ability to read so quickly… and it makes me wonder if they are actually reading what is posted, or are simply wanting reciprocation, with multiple likes and a follow. Is the goal to accumulate lots of Likes and Followers, regardless of connection with other bloggers?

It makes me think of my adolescence where there was much self doubt and a craving for validation. If I do this for you, you’ll do this for me. If I like you, you must like me. This, of course, is encouraged in all Social Media.

Perhaps this keeps many people in a state of wondering what others think, and being seen…

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Crossroads and a New Direction

Sometimes we come to a crossroads in our lives where we have to make a choice and/or change direction. For the last little while, those of you who follow my blog might have noticed a sharp decrease in the number of posts and overall level of activity. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the foremost reason is that I have been steadily coming to that Crossroad in my life personally as well as creatively.

crossroads

I am a writer, and I am a Christian. The latter isn’t something I broadcast with a bullhorn, as I’ve always felt more comfortable just living and doing my best to show who I am by actions rather than words. Words not backed by actions are empty anyway; I guess I figure why waste precious breath?

I’ve been online for years, participating in various groups and interacting with numerous people, and one thing has struck me: there are a lot of Christians Creatives like me (artists, writers, actors, musicians) floating around cyberspace. I can really only speak to the writing world since I know it best, but I’m thrilled to see the variety and innovation of what these Creatives have produced. I was never a fan of the ‘western’ Christian romance novels that were all the rage (and standard) throughout my teen years, for example, and I craved the imagination-stirring visions offered in my favorite secular science fiction and fantasy novels. Over time, quality offerings in these genres became more common in Christian bookstores (yes!). However, when compared to Bibles and devotionals, fiction, and more specifically, speculative fiction, remain but a small portion of what is consumed in the marketplace.

So where am I going with this?

I want to do my part to change this. I know how hard I’ve worked over the last few years to learn my trade and to improve my craft, and I know I’m not the only one who wishes to make more of an impact with my creations. Also, despite all the contacts and connections I’ve made, I’ve never really found ‘my place’–I often feel caught between the secular and Christian worlds. I figure I can’t be the only one. So, I’ve been turning over a bunch of ideas of how to better support Christian Creatives (and not just authors) and I have some thoughts, including the start of a new blog and other services for that purpose. But I’d also like to hear from other Christian Creatives out there: What do you think would be helpful in order to improve exposure, support, community building, etc?

For those who are wondering, this blog will remain but it will continue to be writing-oriented and independent of my new endeavor. 🙂

Thanks for reading! If you have comments, drop me a line below. Have a great week!