Yesterday I posted about using WordPress.com Reader to keep up with your content. So, what about blogs that aren’t part of WordPress that you’re interested in? That’s where the old fashioned RSS Feed Readers still serve well!
I’ve been using Feed Readers since before the demise of Google Reader, and I still lament the loss. I’m confused as to why they shut it down, but I assume money. Anyhow, it was a huge inconvenience, and it forced me to look for alternatives.
Feedly Pro had been a thing for a while, but I ignored it. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to pay for a feed reader. I’ve been using readers for years for free, so that’s just how it goes.
Then, one day last year, I went to add a feed to my Feedly, and got denied. What was this?
I did research and discovered this:
Wait a second. So free accounts can only have 100 sources and 3 feeds? I’m confused by this. What’s a source and how is it different from a feed?
I don’t know, but I did understand one thing…
While they didn’t remove any of the feeds I currently subscribed to, I was faced with the reality that I’d hit a limit and couldn’t add new feeds to my reader. Needless to say, I went reader shopping that day and found an alternative pretty easily.
This one may not work for everyone because the free version is supported by ads. And in order to use the reader, it did keep prompting me to whitelist the reader domain when I visited (YMMV). I know from a past post that a few folks out there feel pretty strongly against this, but I just whitelisted it for the sake of…
150 feeds for the free account.
And to be honest, they offer a $20 yearly package for 500 feeds and no ads, which isn’t terrible. So far, I haven’t had any issue with the 150 feed limit, but I don’t hold on to feeds that go inactive for super long.
BUT, if I were to upgrade, I think I’d fork over the yearly $20 sooner than I would a monthly fee. Yeah, I know above I just said I’m not paying for a reader (and I’m not), but this is the most likely case if I did.
Right now, this is the reader I recommend. There might be other good ones out there – if so, let me know in the comments – but this works for me. If you want to know more about how to set up your feeds in Inoreader, check out their comprehensive help!
I do a lot of praising about Tumblr’s great dashboard because it’s a feature that is at the heart of the blogging environment. The platform does an amazing job at delivering other people’s content to you and encouraging people to share content around and recognize it.
This is an area that WordPress.com as a platform could really improve on. It’s also the reason I choose Tumblr over WordPress when it comes to needing to create blog that’s highly interactive (such as an RP blog). However, that doesn’t mean WordPress doesn’t have tools. In fact, it has a pretty great feature, if you are on WordPress.com, called the Reader.
So, when you click that little Follow button on WordPress blogs, that actually does do something – it adds that blog to your your Followed Sites in the Reader. It creates a flowing dashboard of content for all of the blogs you follow. To access it, just click the Reader button on the top WordPress bar of your blog.
There, you’ll see a bunch of options! View your Favorites, Discover new blog content in the WordPress.com environment, see what you’ve liked before, or check out Tags.
Tags is actually a pretty cool little feature, so let’s take a look at it. Basically, when you click on Tags, you get a list of tags that you’re following.
Not following any tags? Click Add and type a topic you’re interested in. Then, when someone else writes a blog post and tags that post with a tag you’re following, you can see it by clicking that tag name in this list.
It’s pretty darn cool, and a very good reason why you should make sure you’re tagging your content when you write blog posts! Not only does it help you organize your writing, but you never know who might have saved tags you use, and will see your posts because of it.
The great thing is that WordPress has these options in the Reader. The sad thing is that I don’t know that people are aware and using it… at least nothing to the extent that they do in Twitter or Tumblr.
If more bloggers got involved, watched tags, discovered new blogs, and really put the Follow system to use, then WordPress could become much more social.
It really would benefit all bloggers who use the platform. This would lead to creators becoming readers and more exchange of comments and ideas. Other than writing a post about it, and encouraging folks to check it out if they don’t use it already, I’m not sure what else can be said.
Soooo… if you haven’t used WordPress Reader, check it out! It’s really a great snapshot at what other people are doing, and gives you a quick look at all the blogs your Following in one place.
It’s also a part of the WordPress App if you prefer mobile!
Do you guys mind if I get up on a soapbox today and discuss something that’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine? I want to talk about taking pride in what you do, and creating a sense of value around your blog’s content.
But, Wren, I hear you say. I just have this little blog about XYZ. It’s a hobby. I’m not getting paid for it. I don’t even think I’m that great of a writer. What’s the value in it?
Well, I say, value is what you make it.
Even the silliest of memes have value if they achieve their goal – to entertain and make someone laugh. If writing your blog helps you get something off your mind, or records a history of something (even if it’s what you gamed last night) for future reference, then it has some kind of value — even if it’s something written for just your personal benefit.
Trashing Your Content — Why?
I argue that most content has value, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. And it really pains me when I see folks blatantly tear down their work and themselves.
It’s one thing to be uncertain about your writing skill or blogging, and look for feedback or suggestions – that’s not the kind of thing I’m talking about. I mean when someone purposely (jokingly?) slaps a demeaning label on themselves and their work.
Now, this isn’t such big thing that I’ve seen on WordPress/Blogger blogs. I’m not sure why. It may be the nature of the platform tends to attract folks who are intent on creating a blog they feel has worth. But on some of the micro-blogging platforms, especially Tumblr, I see this a lot.
As I wrote in another post, I’m quite active in the Tumblr FFXIV RP community. This generally tends to be teens and young adults, and many of them are quite immersed in this meme lifestyle that has developed on the Net.
Sure, not all content on the Net is high quality. And there is stuff out there posted just to troll or spam. However, I don’t see anything wrong with memes and silly posts. They make people laugh during a bad day at work. They have value.
However, so often I see creators insult themselves, their content, and their RP characters. For absolutely no reason.
I admit that I’m pretty selective who I follow on Tumblr. This is because when you follow someone, all of their posted content filters on your dashboard. So, before I follow a someone back on Tumblr, I always check them out.
It often happens like this:
Email pops up: So-and-So-RP-Blogger has followed you on Tumblr – Oh cool. New follower.
Open email, check out the name and avatar – These look interesting. Let me see what their content is like.
Open Tumblr blog – Immediately see in the description something like: “I am trash, writing a trash blog for a trash character. LOL”
Close Tumblr blog without looking at anything else or following
Why? Why would you say something like this about you and your content – especially as your introduction to other people? That’s like walking up and shaking hands with someone saying, “Hi, my name is Mud. I’m trash. Deal with it.”
It’s the same as labeling something you created as a #shitpost – excuse my French. This is a term used to indicate this content is low quality and has absolutely no worth.
But you know something? People who write things as #shitpost… dang those are often some funny posts! If someone laughs at it – guess what? – it has some value! I have that tag blocked on Tumblr because the term bugs me to no end. It’s a shame folks don’t value their content more and let me see it. Instead, they demean it in a tag.
If You Don’t Value Yourself…
This all boils down to a simple thing – if you don’t value yourself, if you put down yourself and your content (especially in your blog description!), then who will value you?!
You may not be confident in your ability to write. Maybe your blog is new. Maybe your content doesn’t get a lot of likes or comments. Whatever it is that makes you think you and your work has little value.
It’s not true unless you make it true.
When someone sells themselves as “trash” and their posts as #shitposts, it isn’t doing them any favors. This reinforces that kind of thinking for the content creator and everyone around them.
If you feel something really, really truly has no worth, don’t post it. Pretty simple.
If you feel called to post something silly, and you’re tempted to label it in a demeaning way… just don’t put that label on it. You don’t know how it will be received, or whose day you might brighten by giving them a laugh – sometimes things have value to someone else even when we don’t know it. The Net is a big place.
So I guess I just wanted to get that off my chest. I’ve been seeing it often. It makes me a little sad every time.
Even if you’re not sure of your content and work, know that developing a blog is like any other thing. It takes time, and you get better as you go along. Be patient with yourself, love the journey, and value your content.
For better or worse, there’s long-been a movement towards using the quick and easy “Like” or heart button to acknowledge that you’ve seen something someone else has posted. On one hand, it’s nice to at least let someone know you stopped by to read, when you just didn’t have anything else to add to it other than “I agree!” On the other hand, even I fall into the trap of simply Liking something during my busy day.
Whether this is good or bad is a debate for another time. But as far as trends go on the Net, I figured I may as well drop a Like button on my blogs just to offer the option. The way I see it, if someone wasn’t going to comment on something, they won’t – whether or not the Like button is there. At least the Like lets you know they were there, allows you to check out their blog if they have one, and maybe pursue a further connection.
Who knows. That person might just be shy!
While visiting blogs during Blaugust, I notice most WordPress blogs do have the Like button… but a few don’t. So I just wanted to take a moment to talk about how to add Likes and Reblogs to your WordPress blog – both WordPress.com and self-hosted.
Likes and Reblogs at WordPress.com
Log in and:
Click My Sites in the top left corner.
Click Tools > Marketing.
Navigate to the Sharing Button tab.
Under the Reblog & Like section, select which features you want to turn on.
Choose how you want those buttons to appear, then click Save Changes.
I do not have Reblog turned on. This allows anyone on WordPress.com to one-click repost your content. So if that’s not something you want to see, I warn you to take care with this feature.
Some communities, such as Tumblr, thrive on a reblogging feature. In fact, you WANT your stuff reblogged to share it. It’s a totally different environment.
But as far as I’ve ever seen, very few folks who use WordPress want their content straight up copied into another person’s blog. I think it’s just a difference in how blogging is approached, and the type of content shared on the different platforms.
Likes for a Self-Hosted WordPress
To have Likes on a self-hosted WordPress, you must have the Jetpack plugin installed. There’s a lot fewer settings for self-hosted, and no option to Reblog at all, since you aren’t technically hooked into the WordPress.com ecosystem.
To turn Likes on, log in and:
Go to the admin dashboard.
Navigate to Jetpack > Settings.
Click the Sharing tab.
At the bottom of the page, toggle the Like buttons feature on.
And that’s it! Your blog can now swim about in a sea of peer affirmation. Like and enjoy! 😉
Somehow, some way, I the news of WordPress buying out Tumblr this past week completely flew by me (I realized I was not following the Staff Tumblr on my account, for one thing). I didn’t know anything about it until I was surfing my reader for the newest Blaugust posts and saw this one at Unidentified Signal Source – thanks for your write up!
Now, I’m not your typical target audience for Tumblr. I’m older than most of the folks there, and my reasons for having a Tumblr are somewhat differently aligned to those I interact with. But interact is the key word.
I’ve used Tumblr for years. Looking back at my main Tumblr, my very first post was back in May, 2011, when I had no clue what this Tumblr thing was. I just knew my RP friends used it. While this account has gathered some dust lately – I’m not sure what I want to do with it – I’ve always approached it as a micro-blogging anything-goes, free-form creative outlet.
Most recently, I rolled up a Tumblr for my FFXIV role play pursuits. While I prefer the toolset that WordPress gives me for writing a blog post, the truth is, it feels like a more isolated experience. It just does not have the backend for sharing, reblogging and interacting the way that Tumblr does.
When you’re looking to make connections and role play, going where the community is makes all the difference. RP folks choose Tumblr as a platform because it is super easy to post something – click a button and toss up text, image, video, whatever you want. And, the whole ecosystem of Like, Reblog, Follow makes it super interactive.
You might be able to write an RP story on a WordPress, but it sure does feel like you’re posting into the void. I’ve tried it. It didn’t work. I went back to Tumblr.
I’ve had pretty good success on Tumblr. My first RP blog was for GW2, before the game launched. White Charr has been inactive for quite a while, but it still has 1,200 followers. Which, for a Tumblr blog for a specific game, back in that time, was quite a feat for me!
My newest RP blog has been running for a bit over a year now, and it has 760 followers. There’s a good solid number of folks that I write with, interact, reblog, do character memes, and all sorts of fun things that just aren’t possible in the same way on WordPress. My content gets out there, I know when people respond to it, and I see when it gets passed around.
So, all that being said… I’ve been concerned about the direction Tumblr was headed for a good while. When I heard that WordPress bought them, at first I was surprised, but then, I was intrigued and a bit hopeful.
I feel like a combination of Tumblr’s engagement tools and WordPress’ backend power could make the true experience that I want in a blogging platform. I wouldn’t have to go to Tumblr to find the community and interaction while sacrificing all the tools that makes using WordPress awesome.
Will it go that direction? I don’t know. But I’m excited to think that Tumblr, which has been stumbling along financially for a while, has a new extension on life. I’ve always enjoyed WordPress for what it is, and I hope they’ll recognize what makes Tumblr amazing, and press on to make it even better.
I consider today the halfway point for the month of August, so I decided to write a quick re-cap check-in on how I’ve been doing this month. So far, I’ve managed some sort of blog post every day for the past 16 days, which is more than I expected out of myself.
I usually give myself a break on weekends, and have had to give myself an extra nudge or an easy topic to tackle the weekends past to get it done. I still have a number of ideas that I jotted down before Blaugust started that I have waiting in the wings, just in case I run up against topic-block.
Things in FFXIV are slowly winding down into a steady cadence-of-life now that Shadowbringers has been out for a bit. I still haven’t accomplished all that I want to do, but between the two characters I play, I’ve gotten a lot done. Aside from “gathered a whole lot of purple carrots today,” I doubt you want to hear of my daily excursions in the First.
The only other thing of note is, after some soul searching and missing practice for a month and a half, I decided to move my violin content back to my self-hosted blog. The reason being – I wanted to set up an online practice log… and I wasn’t sure that a WordPress.com hosted blog would allow me to install the plugins I needed to do that.
I might write more about how I managed to set that up later, but for now, it’s doing what I want it to do.
Hopefully everyone else is having a productive and insightful Blaugust so far! Keep writing!
One thing I noticed as I visited other blogs during Blaugust is that while many have a favicon, some do not. There was a time that adding an icon to a WordPress required a lot of fiddling, or a theme that accepted one. But now days, it’s as easy as finding a square 512×512 image and uploading it to the blog.
WordPress.com calls these “Site Icons” and defines them as:
Site Icons are what you see in browser tabs, bookmark bars, and within the WordPress mobile apps.
Let me add to it that this also shows in some RSS readers and things like that, too.
Here’s the difference between a site with and without an icon:
As you can see, the one of the left just displays a WordPress icon. Which is fine. But to really personalize the way your blog displays to others in various places, you can change it.
Whether you’re on WordPress.com or self hosted, the location for this is the same (unless you have a self-hosted theme that works differently).
Follow the steps below to use Site Icon to set up a favicon for your site. 1 -Prepare the image file. (It must be square, having a height and width of at least 512 px.) 2- Navigate to Administration Screen > Appearance > Customize 3- Click Site Identity 4- Click Select Image (located under the Site Icon subheading). 5- Click on the Upload Files tab, then click Select Files to upload the image file that you prepared in the previous step.
Once upon a time, there were a whole lot of folks who thought that blogging was the quick way to a work from home job. All it took was dedication, the right topics/audience, and the time to create quality content.
While I won’t say that is never the case, I feel it’s pretty rare. Now days, I feel it’s even more rare than back when Full-Time Blogger was the dream. The Net is constantly changing, and new technologies, such as video and streaming, nudge out the old. For a while it was blogging, then it was building up a YouTube channel, now everyone wants to be a professional Streamer.
But let’s reel that back in and talk about what’s feasibly possible. If you host your blog on WordPress.com, it is possible to make money from WordAds. However, don’t expect it to pay the bills… much less even cover the cost of hosting (unless you’re really lucky).
My WordAds Experience
Looking at my WordAds stats, I started hosting ads on my blog back in February of 2018. Now, WordAds does not pay out until you reach over $100 in revenue.
To put it into perspective, I got my first payout June of 2019.
My thinking on taking this plunge last year was… it’s only $3 a month over what I was already paying for a Personal account. And if I can make $100 in a year in revenue, then my blog would pay for its own hosting.
This didn’t quite happen, as you can see… But hey, $107 in my pocket is more than nothing. While it didn’t completely pay my hosting, it did cover some. Also, I went ahead and grabbed a deal to lock in my WordPress package for two more years at a discounted price earlier in this year, so I’m paying a lot less for hosting for the upcoming period.
One more thing to keep in mind – there is an application process. Just because you upgrade to Premium doesn’t mean WordAds will approve you. The exact amount of traffic required is vague, and you must also have your own domain name.
Q: I applied to WordAds. When will it be available to me? A: Our advertisers have a minimum traffic requirement. Once you reach the level they’re looking for, your application will be automatically sent to them for evaluation. Q: What is the minimum traffic requirement? A: A site generally needs thousands of pageviews each month to earn meaningful revenue. Q: Why do I need a custom domain name? A: We are unable to provide WordAds for sites with the default free [example].wordpress.com URL, so you’ll need to either register a new domain name or map an existing domain name to your WordPress.com blog of choice.
I guess somewhere down the line, in the many years I’d hosted at WordPress, I somehow qualified for WordAds. I don’t think I have a ton of traffic every month, but apparently, it is enough.
Revenue each month is not just based on the amount of traffic you get, but the quality of the ads that WordAds can provide to your blog. This appears to vary widely from month to month – some months I have a lot more views than others, but make less revenue! How does that even work?
I read about it, and it really does rely on who is advertising with WordAds and how much the advertiser is willing to pay. For example, April and June were pretty good months for me, partially because I was seeing FFXIV ads on my blog. I’m going to guess that S/E is willing to put more ad money towards Shadowbrigners than the standard ads that are served up normally.
It also helped that Shadowbringers hype drummed up some traffic – but as you can see, that didn’t help May very much for some reason (?)
Let’s talk about Ad Control. I’ve never seen a way to tell an ad not to display on my site. Some of the ads don’t really relate to my content, but nothing has ever been offensive that I’ve seen.
While you do have some control over where ads appear on your blog, it’s only a general location. For example, you can turn it on or off on your sidebar, but you can’t control where on the sidebar it shows – I’m going to guess this is based on your WordPress theme (?)
Overall, the system is pretty set-it-and-forget-it and it takes care of itself. I don’t really mess with ad settings, or even do much more than check back on it every now and then.
WordPress has added an Ads section to the JetPack stats, so now you can see your earnings daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. This is a lot better than it used to be – simply waiting to see what last month’s payout was at some random point in the month after.
So, is WordAds worth it? I’m not thrilled to slap ads on my blog, but I’ve also not heard anyone complain about them. It’s low maintenance, but also low return. However, some return is better than no return, right?
Disclaimer: All this being said, please, please keep in mind that just because you upgrade to a Premium WordPress account does not assure WordAds will approve your application. So please don’t run out and upgrade your WordPress account based on what I wrote here. This is only my personal experience, and from doing reading, it varies depending on the blog.
It’s brainstorming week at Blaugust – and rather than tackle that big ole topic, I’d like to talk about jotting down ideas as they come to mind. Specifically, a tool I’ve taken to using myself – Tasks within Gmail.
Now, if you already have an app or a program where you drop your to-dos or ideas, great! But if you’re like me, most of these apps didn’t stick. I’d set up an account at something like Evernote, and even download the phone app, but then forget all about it because it’s just not in a place I think to go daily.
However, I’m a Gmail user and it’s pretty typical for me to have my Gmail open on my browser 99.9% of the time I’m on my computer. So when I noticed the little Task button on my Gmail sidebar, I explored it… and found a list-making tool that became pretty effective for me.
It’s not as fancy as some of the other tools out there, but the fact that it exists in a space that I’m looking at several times a day makes it effective. I keep notes about posts I want to come back to read, reminders about various gaming and IRL things, and… when Blaugust rolled around, I made a task to keep up with ideas for blog posts as they came to me.
It’s really simple to create a task with several subtasks, set a date/time, and even have different task lists. Individual subtasks are hidden when you check them off, as is the main task when you finish it. There’s also a mobile app version of the task list, though I’ve never actually messed with it. I tend to be a PC person when working in a browser and in mail.
So, as ideas come to you during this month, be sure to jot them down! If you don’t already use an app for this, and you are a Gmail user like I am, see if the Google Tasks can help you out with it.
Or, well, you could always use a notebook, I suppose. 😉
Greetings to those of you discovering my blog for the first time through the pulse of Blaugust! I spent some time going through the list of bloggers participating and adding folks to my Feed Reader and following via WordPress when I could.
Since there are some new faces, I wanted to take time to introduce myself and my blog, and talk just a bit about how it came to be and why it is the way it is.
I’m a middle-aged gal gamer and technical writer by trade. I’ve been writing (fiction) since I was old enough to make up stories, and have carried that with me throughout my life. I was first introduced to the Internet back in 1997-1998, and being the tech geek I was, fell in love with the concept and idea that one could connect with so many different people on the other side of the screen.
Naturally, I began posting writing online, to an old Geocities account. This was mostly fanfic (which I didn’t know had the name fanfic) that I’d written long-hand in my young teens and stuffed in a box under my bed for years. That story still exists online… but that’s not important. What is important is that from the moment I understood what the Internet could do, I was posting writing to it in some format.
Short History of Me on the Interwebs
Eventually, Geocities gave way to other less tedious means of communication (meaning you didn’t have to know how to code HTML to post stuff), and things like LiveJournals became popular. I’ll say that’s probably the first blog-format type writing I did. It’s all long-gone now, and I’m not sure it even called itself a “blog,” but it cemented the idea that hosted websites could give writers a CMS environment to post their thoughts online.
Eventually I installed my own WordPress – it was a very small and personal blog, and I don’t even recall what it was named or that it had any function. The only thing I do remember is that it taught me to never post too detailed information about yourself/job/family online!
I recall one day being shocked that someone had Googled a certain phrase that was related to my job, and it took them to my blog because I’d mentioned something about it in a post about a work conference. While there was nothing bad in that post, it shook me – I didn’t realize Google had such deep-reaching abilities until then. I’ve always been the type to separate my RL from my net life, so while nothing came of it, it was rather uncomfortable, and I learned that lesson. Hence why you don’t see much about my RL in this blog.
How This Blog Came To Be
The story of how this blog came to be is too long to tell, even if I could remember it rightly. I’ve had so many blogs over the years that I don’t remember the half of them. But what they taught me was this: When I try to focus on just one topic and don’t have any flexibility, that blog will fail.
I know a lot of times you hear about people telling you to find your niche and things like that when it comes to blogging. I tried that. I tried it over and over. I’ve had blogs about webcomic making, fiction writing, specific gaming, RP characters, fitness, etc. None of them made it.
The reason why?
I discovered over the course of the years that I need to be able to write about what’s inspiring me from day to day. While this blog often focuses on my main MMO – FFXIV – I also love to write about an awesome Steam or Switch game that blew me away. Or maybe I want to talk about RL with my cats (doesn’t happen often, but I have). Or about progress I am (or not) making with learning to play violin. Maybe I’m into learning Blender and creating content for Second Life…
Whatever my creative spark, that’s what I want to talk about in a post. It seems simple, but so many writers paint themselves into a corner by dedicating a blog to just one game or topic. And then, when life changes or they’ve lost interest, that blog suddenly falls to the wayside. It’s not their fault or the blog’s fault, it’s just life!
So when I created this blog, I left it wide open as a “Gaming and Geek” blog to talk about whatever pleases me. I consider it a hobby blog, and I used my Internet handle as the name. Sometimes I’m a little regretful of that, but at this point, it is what it is.
Even this blog has gone through several changes. It was rebranded and moved from self-hosted to WP hosted (which I don’t regret). But for now, I feel like it’s pretty well settled where it is.
Anyhow, if you’ve made it all the way to the end of this ramble, congrats! Have a cookie! And if you have any questions for me about my blog or my processes, feel free to leave a comment!