How Does Your Syndication Grow?

We are all so syndicated these days. Using social media like Twitter and Facebook to post our posts to other networks and then the feed readers which have lost some popularity, we have been able to build a much bigger network for what we write. Do you still count subscribers? Do you know where to look for an amount of subscribers? Or does Google Analytics give you all the reader and social statistics you need?

Ben wrote about counting your Twitter followers as subscribers. This works for me. However, not all of those people are following you for your blog. If you are using Twitter well you post more than regurgitated blog entries. You should be posting relevant content as well as every day this and that which makes you seem like a real person with something to say. People are far more interesting to follow on Twitter if they post random thoughts, link to other content they find and interact with other people on Twitter. You hope they will also have a look at your blog, but there is no guarantee. Does it matter? That depends on why you keep the blog, is it a tool, a part of the whole or do you need people at the blog to make your money?

Ben also wrote about making your feed useful again. It’s a good post. If you want to revamp your feed he has ideas that will work for you. I’m going to leave mine to dwell in the land of dust bunnies. As I commented on Ben’s blog, I just don’t have the time to put into this online tool any more. It isn’t as useful for me as other options, like Twitter.

I don’t know when I will ever have time to edit my feed reader. I have really given up on it years ago, never actually got into the whole thing really. I do use Twitter and especially Facebook as my feed reader now. I miss a lot and I am fine with that. I’m not trying to be omnipotent or anything like that. What I do catch is enough. The main thing is keeping a balance in my life so I am not feeling pressured to stay up all night just catching up on things. I spend a lot more time on maintenance and promotion than I actually write anything. It’s amazing how much time gets sucked up on stuff no one really sees. I also try to be social and that isn’t something I am good at. I’d happily be a social hermit and just leave everything to be read and not put myself into the picture at all.

What does it take for you to feel read? What numbers work for you? I’ve got the WordPress.com Stats plugin and that gives me a daily head count. Of course, it’s not perfect. It omits extra details like what people read, what people were real versus comment spammers and most of all it doesn’t tell me what people liked about my site. But, the generic numbers are enough for me. The main reason I like to watch traffic is the same reason I am a clock watcher at work. It keeps me going. As I count up the readers or down the hours I know where I am headed and I keep myself on track. I have a goal I can attain.

The Women of WordPress

This is a list of women involved in developing, promoting or designing with WordPress blog software. If you should be on the list and are not, let me know. These are more than web designers, they develop software/ scripts to run with WordPress, they write guides for WordPress users and they promote the WordPress community.

Added later:
WP Chick – Kim Doyal

Could you Start a Shopping Blog

My friend, Deanna, and I were talking about blogging and our mutual need for more money. I cut and pasted part of our conversation (from Yahoo Messenger).

You really should try a shopping sort of blog; it’s not “writing” really (or at least not usually), but it can make money because of affiliate money and google ads (let’s face it, Google ads are paid for by people selling stuff, so…)

If money weren’t an issue (a big leap, I know!), what would you buy or at least enjoy shopping for?

That’s how I came up with lingerie. I love it, which I could afford (and now, fit into) it, so I combined that with my marketing & retail knowledge (rants) and it’s doing really well.

What would you buy or enjoy shopping for, if money weren’t an issue? You can set up a blog in a few clicks with Blogger or WordPress.com and give a shopping blog a try. Explore the idea, see how far you can take it and if you can get it making money.

I’ve been a bit of a writing snob when it comes to blogging. Yet, even I, have looked at the glossy photos on some shopping blogs and dreamed of doing more than window shopping. If I had the money I would have bought spent some.

Now I’ve got the domain and am making the plans. If nothing else, I will enjoy looking and window shopping while online. If it makes money that will be even better.

Dust Off your Old Posts with WordPress Plugins

If you have a new blog, this isn’t something you need to consider really. However, if you have been blogging awhile and have amassed some nice content you begin to think about how much is lurking under the surface, like a crocodile in the water or an iceberg waiting for it’s Titanic. Why let the dust bunnies be the only ones to read your old posts?

You can revamp and old post, write it again with new information, new links, a change of opinion is even possible. But, what if you don’t want to rewrite your past brilliance and yet would like it to be read in spite of that?

Here are some WordPress plugins to help you out:

I use Time Machine myself. It gives me a widget in the sidebar with a post from the current day taken from past years.

These plugins will bring an old post back into your current blog feed. I wouldn’t like this unless it came with a note explaining it was from the archives. Your old post could be outdated after all.

Camel Case

You see it in titles and names like WordPress and WikiLeaks. These are words which have the specialty of not being the usual lower or upper case. These words have more than one initial capital letter. Not lovingly accepted by Grammarians and dictionaries, yet. Still, a proper name for a company/ business should be spelled correctly, the way the company itself spells it out on their business cards, website headers and so on. Thus we get camel case.

I don’t 100% agree with it, or feel comfortable using it. I tend to split the name of this blog into two words versus typing it out as WordGrrls. What do you think about the issue of camel case?

I first read the term ‘camel case’ on Terribly Write. I knew about spelling words this way but had not heard the name for it before then.

See also: NYTimes: Against Camel Case

Are Tags and Categories Too Much Work?

With regularly keeping this blog, moving an old blog onto WordPress from Blogger as well as starting a new blog, I’m finding the biggest amount of work is from tags and categories. Even this blog which is my most established and perfected (not perfect but given the most labour of the labour of my love) has things I could switch around and freshen up with it’s tags and categories. I keep putting off that job.

For one thing, I can’t find a plugin that seems to make the job any simpler. Yes, I am looking to cut corners. This blog started in 2006, wouldn’t you want to find a quick way to sort through that many posts too?

I know Blogger calls them labels but lets make life simple and call them tags and categories for the moment.

The blog I moved from Blogger was started in 2004, it’s not the first blog I started but it’s the oldest of all the blogs I’ve kept going, undeleted. There are a lot of posts in a blog that old. I’ve been trying to find some way to bring categories into that blog. I started by changing all my original labels into tags. Now I am thinking that was a mistake. It seems there are more ways to sort tags than categories (when I look at WordPress plugins and such). So I may change them back for the sorting and then change them back again when the dust clears.

The new blog you would think is the simplest, just type in some tags and categories and start writing posts. Not so. I want to set up the tags and categories so I don’t need to go back and change them in a year or two from now. I want tags and categories that will last. It’s taking planning and fore thinking. I’ve been making lists and checking them twice.

What are your thoughts and experiences in dealing with/ using tags and categories?

Six Reasons I Like Having a Microblog in my Sidebar

Why I like having a micro/miniblog in my sidebar…

  1. There are always little things I find online and want to stick into my blog.
  2. I don’t want to turn every little thing into a full blown post when it can stand on it’s own with just a linkback to the source.
  3. It gives readers something original/ atypical to read in my sidebar, rather than the network widgets and etc.
  4. I can give a quick shout to a friend’s blog or site and (depending on how often I post there) leave it up for longer than a daily post.
  5. It’s different. I don’t see many other bloggers using a miniblog contained in their main blog.
  6. The plugin I found works really well and has weathered every WordPress upgrage with 5 stars.

Making Headway with Headway WP Theme

After seeing  April Tara’s blog I was pretty sure I wanted to try Headway. Her blog has some of my favourite things which I was using with the Thesis theme. I spent a couple of hours looking at themes. Before choosing Thesis I spent years looking at free themes and patching together what I wanted for my own blog. So, I expect a lot from a premium (paid) theme.

I picked Headway’s WordPress theme as the one I would switch from Thesis for. I am not knocking Thesis, I still find it a great theme, the GPL debate was mostly a good time for me to try a new theme that also looked good. Matt Mullenweg bought Headway for me after his post about paying for a new theme for anyone using Thesis interested in trying a new theme.

I did have a rough start using Headway. I was frustrated. I’m not that frustrated now that I have made some progress. There are still some issues which I would like to change or fix. But, overall, Headway is working for me.

Headway:Visual Editor:

Visual Editor: Leafs:

The first thing you need to know is how to find the drag and drop to manhandle your layout. It is part of the Visual Editor. If you look at Leafs you will see you can enable Arrange and Resize. Be aware it is kind of backwards: if it says “enable” it means it is not going to work until you click the button. If it says “enable” it is actually disabled. When it says “disable” it is enabled. In a future Headway update they might add the “D” to make this clearer.

Leafs is mainly a way to move around your template with your mouse. You can set the dimensions of your columns but be careful, they still have to fit in the wrapper in order to appear side by side. Also, check your site in different sized monitors as it will need to shrink and contract to fit various screens. Keep things fluid so they can suit each screen size without you needing to having to stress out about it too much.

Other than the drag and drop feature Leafs are mainly widgets you can add to the site. They can replace some of the WordPress plugins you may already be using. I haven’t done much with Leafs so far. I did add the About one but may yet change my mind about it as I already have a whole About page which is linked in my header navigation bar.

Visual Editor: Templates:

You can ignore the Templates tab unless you buy another template or skin for Headway. You don’t have to. I think this tab on the Visual Editor should be moved to the bottom of the list. It is an optional thing versus the tabs for Design Editor, Site Configuration, Leafs and Navigation which you will each need.

Visual Editor: Design Editor:

Design Editor is where I spent most of my time. I think it has too many options. It would help to have something that lets you set the font and colours for the whole site/ blog instead of going through each and every littlest option for comments, footers, headers, widgets, etc. A main switch would be nice. Some people may like to have a rainbow of colours and use every font at least once, I prefer to stick to a couple of colours and a couple of fonts.

In the Design Editor go down the list on the Element Selector. This is the best way to make sure you don’t miss something. Once you choose an element you will see a button appear: Call this element out. This is very nice, it highlights which element you will be working on. It’s a guide through your functions so you know which part of your blog theme you are changing before you begin making selections. Almost everything you need is in the Design Editor, just keep working your way through. It is handy to open a Notepad file and paste in your code for the HTML colours you are using. Much easier to paste them in as you go if you remember which one is the main colour for headers and subheaders and which one is background or subtitles.

Visual Editor: Site Configuration:

Site Configuration is where you can make big changes to your header, footer, wrapper and body, basically push around your site width at the top, middle and bottom. After you do you may need to go back to Leafs and fiddle around to get your columns in place again. This is where having fluid elements comes in handy.

WordPress Admin: Headway:

Now, you could do this at the end or you could have started here but last on my list is configuring Headway back in your WordPress Admin. You will leave the Visual Editor and step back into the WordPress screen again.

Headway: General Options:

In General Options you can add Header and Footer stuff. I put in some extra meta tags. (You add your main meta tags for keywords and description to Search Engine Optimization below). I also added stuff to the footer but I have more work to do on that, it looks a mess right now as I want to make a horizontal bar for widgets to be in 3 columns there. So far I have not gotten it to work. General Option is pretty simple, just add your Favicon and feed as directed.

Headway: Posts/ Comments:

If you want short posts in a double row as I have in this blog you tick Enable Small Excerpts in Posts/ Comments. At the bottom of Posts/ Comments you can also change the “Read More” words you use in the excerted posts.

Headway: Search Engine Optimization:

We now come to Search Engine Optimization. Skip down past the navigation title section. (I only changed Posts Page Title so it doesn’t show “Blog | Word Grrls” at the top of my blog). The important section is for your basic meta tags: description and keywords. Write a good description but don’t make it a book and don’t let it be spammy. Describe your site as you would to someone who asked you what your site is about. Make it clear and keep it simple. Don’t go into overkill on keywords. Try to find search terms someone might use to actually find your site. You can use phrases, not just single words.

Thats about it. Once you have gotten this far you have covered the basics of working with the Headway theme. I still have a list of things I am working on. One nice thing I discovered in Headway is that you can use the new WordPress 3 Menu feature which is not yet configured with the Thesis theme. The Menu (which is on WordPress, not part of the Headway theme itself) will let you set up the header menu bar with links to your pages, categories or outside (custom) links you want to add.

I am coming to like Headway. But, it does need to build more community support in order to get the extra tutorials, plugins, features, widgets and such which you can find when you use the Thesis theme. Headway needs to grow and I see every chance that it will. I wouldn’t say Headway is a full package yet. If you read my list of things I am working on (below) you may notice a couple of things Headway could add in another upgrade. I’m glad to see a strong community around Headway because this is how things like new features and extras come about.

Other resources:

Headway Beginner

Headway Tips

Headway Demo

Headway Hub

Headway Support – For premium members who have bought the theme.

Headway WP – Headway, as mentioned on Twitter.

Just for fun and human interest, these are the things I have worked on, have fixed or am still working on with this blog and the Headway theme. Some of them are not Headway related but still relevant to the outer workings, the things you can see when you land here. Right now the footer thing is the biggest project. I have tried the Headway Hub plan but it did not work for me. Looking at WordPress options, but no luck on getting this working yet.

  • Footer- need 3 columns for widgets, gadgets, etc. – Would like one long horizontal sidebar or 3 widget columns, whichever is workable.
  • Fluid main content div to fit the page rather than be fixed or float and throw off the alignment. (This seems to be ok, so far).
  • Add header graphic, under the header text and link. (Not able to do this with Headway it seems).
  • About page is missing and navbar seems to be uncoordinated. (Turned out to be user error which I fixed).
  • Background, something new. (Still high on my to-do list).
  • Sidebars, look untidy still. (Done, changed my font, personal taste).
  • Set up e-cards – WordPress thing. (This has been on my to-do list awhile. I keep putting off getting into figuring it all out).
  • Headway saves and then returns to previous settings. Why? (Still a mystery but… it only did it the first day I was working with it).
  • Set standard for all pages. (I am still missing sidebars when you click into a post etc).
  • Lifestream feed and RSS. (Done).
  • Big, gaping space appears at bottom of content, above footer. (This was an odd thing. My div columns were re-setting themselves, one kept becoming very long. Seems to be ok now.)
  • If possible… have a ticker type thing announcing posts which I would like to highlight or feature, running right under the header and navbar. (Have not started this project but expect I can find some kind of WP plugin that will work for my idea).

WordPress Plugins for Web Comics

These are not in any real order and they are not reviewed by me. I’m just posting the results of my research into how to make a gallery of my own web comics through this blog on WordPress. None are just what I am looking for, so far. But, my list may be useful to someone else. So, here they are:

Manga + Press

ComicPress

ComicPress Manager

StripShow

Web Comic

Kommiku

WP Comic

WP Cartoon

AWSOM Pixgallery

My Comic WordPress Plugin

WP Showroom

For more information and reviews of some of these plugins read WordPress as a Comic Publishing Platform.

Manga Journey has a post about How to Start a Web Comic.

Joel Fagin has web comic tutorials. (Link found as a resource on Fallen Kitten Productions).

Web Comic Beacon – “netcast is designed for webcomic lovers and novice creators. You could also think of this as a production for and by amateurs. We are here to share our opinions and experiences, as amateurs and webcomickers, for the love of the hobby first and foremost”.

The Web Comic Builder – “The purpose of this site is to provide information and advice on all aspects of the webcomic community; from designing you first character, to developing a kick-ass website, and what you should take with you when attending conventions.”

The Web Comic List – News posts and forum.