Blogging 101 in a post!

Blogging U.I have just finished it. Blogging 101 is a 3-week course offered by the Blogging University with the help of the WordPress.com team. It started on July 6 and came to the end on July 24, 2015.

Zero to Hero is the name of this course. According to the course team, “It takes you from “Blog?” to “Blog!” Every weekday, you’ll get a new assignment to help you publish a post, customize your blog, or engage with the community. You’ll walk away with a stronger focus for your blog, several published posts and a handful of drafts, a theme that reflects your personality, a small (but growing!) audience, a grasp of blogging etiquette — and a bunch of new friends.”

Each week, we have 5 assignments to accomplish + ideas for the weekend

Week One

Day One: Introduce Yourself to the World
Day Two: Take Control of your Title and Tagline
Day Three: Say Hello to the Neighbors
Day Four: Identify your Audience
Day Five: Love your Theme
Weekend: Week One Ideas

Week Two

Day Six: Make an Irresistible “About” Page
Day Seven: Keep Personalizing
Day Eight: Be a Good Neighbor
Day Nine: Be Inspired by the Neighbors
Day Ten: Build  Better Blogroll
Weekend: Week Two Ideas

Week Three

Day Eleven: Make a Prompt Personal
Day Twelve: Increase your Commenting Confidence
Day Thirteen: Try (Another) Blog Event
Day Fourteen: Extend your Brand
Day Fifteen: Create a Feature
Weekend: Week Three Ideas + a final suggestion

During these THREE weeks, I have learned THREE big things:

  1. How to make my blog my own through various ways of personalization.
  2. How to attract my audience through posting great, consistent content.
  3. How to build a community through the commenting feature.

Let’s begin with the form:

I already have many blogs on WordPress.com. Before this course, I didn’t think about how much the form of my blogs can impact my readers. All what I always do is to click “New Post” and start writing, then publishing and that is all. But now I can add my own unique touches. Choosing a suitable title and tagline, selecting a comfortable theme that goes with the aim behind my blog, making a new header that attracts my readers to come back, publishing an irresistible “About” page that gives my readers an idea of who I am  and allows my voice to be heard, creating a blavatar that is the blog icon to build my brand, and changing my widgets’ titles to reflect the personality of my blog are among many things that I can do. Even the text widget, I can make it creative and colorful by displaying a combination of text, links, images, and HTML. Adding an elevator pitch – a quick summary of what my blog is about – is another feature that can help my visitors decide to stay and keep reading and commenting.

Just check out my blog and see how it looks like:

  • What about my blog blavatar? That red smiling apple next to the url!
  • Do you love my “Intro” widget at the top? Text, Images, Links, Icons …!
  • What do you think of my blog’s elevator pitch? Short and straight!
  • Have you noticed the new titles of my widgets? Colorful and interesting!
  • Would you please visit my “About” page? I visualized myself, instead.
  • … look around and see more! 😉

What about the content?

It is not just the form that we have learned about, but the content as well. During this course, we were exposed to many opportunities to write and post. Among them were:

  1. Finding suitable writing prompts and responding to them: According to the team, “Writing prompts can be a blogger’s best friend: when inspiration is low and fresh ideas few, responding to someone else’s question can do get you out of a slump.” Really, I enjoyed this assignment so much. You just search for a prompt that suits your interests and start writing and sharing your creativity with others. To try this out, check all the prompts here. Definitely, you will never stop blogging simply because you always have a jar to choose from.
  2. Trying other blog events: These events and challenges can be a great way for inspiration and motivation. They are hosted by other bloggers for free and all you have to do is to participate and enjoy writing. Take a look through the Community Event Listings and you will find a lot of blopportunities that can suit your interests. Kindly use the drop-down menus to sort by type or frequency of the event. It is like a lifelong experience that never ends. Once you finish one, you will pursue others to show off sometimes, finding  the writer in you, or just sharing with others in another time.
  3. Creating a regular posting feature: It gives your blog a hook and helps your writing stay sustainable. Just imagine you are posting every Friday about a certain topic. Your readers will wait for that with a full excitement and eagerness. You can tell your readers about this feature by creating a custom image widget and dragging it to your sidebar. It will attract their attention and keep them dropping by and reading or commenting. Remember, you are going for consistency, not frequency. This will encourage bloggers to post regularly improving their writing skills with an emphasis on quality not quantity. Here are some examples suggested by WordPress.com team. You can pick one and get started: A weekly photo post, or even better a weekly photo gallery post, a monthly Q & A with one of your blogging buddies, a Music Monday featuring the song that rocked your weekend, or a Flavor Friday dedicated to the recipe you experimented with over the previous week.

Do you remember No.3?

It is building a community through the commenting and following features. During this course, we completed 4 assignments about how to get connected to other bloggers, saying hello, following their blogs,  leaving comments, getting inspired and building new ideas based on these comments. As my new friend @jacqueline always says, sharing ideas with others is a great way to engage in this fabulous blogland or blogosphere. By communicating with them, you can learn new things, get a help, or a feedback, construct a new knowledge, and also find another eye to see how you are doing. Reading others’ blogs helps me to discover things from different perspectives and let me see how others think. I don’t talk about the ideas only, but how they use their blogs to improve themselves, marketing their products, sharing their projects, etc. In short, it is a two-way communication through which we can take and give; something from you and something from me ….

Last but not least, I just want to thank the Blogging University and all the WordPress.com team for giving me this opportunity to make my blog my own and unleash my creativity.

If you are also interested in blogging using WordPress.com platform, you can register NOW for the next offering from August 3 – 21, 2015

register-today

Wish you a happy journey of blogging!
🙂

Register Now: “The best blogging advice I ever recieved”

Dear my readers,

For this FRIDAY:

Retrieved on July 24, 2015

I invite you all to an on-demand webinar about “Blogging 101.”

You’ll learn:
  • How blogging has come a long way since the early days and evolved into a powerful business-building strategy
  • Why a well-managed blog is key to building personal rapport with clients and prospects
  • How blogging helps boost your search engine optimization (SEO)
  • How to build and manage a powerful blog … and start building those relationships that can lead to sales

When:
Monday July 13, 2015 at 1:00 PM CDT till
Friday July 31, 2015 at 11:55 PM CDT

Where:
This is an online event.

How:
Click here to Register

Then, you will receive an e-mail including a link to the on-demand webinar + a password that enables you to watch it on Vimeo.

Resource:

Check it out: My Friday’s Post

Day Fifteen’s task during the “#Blogging101” course is to: Develop a regular feature for your blog.

AFriday's Post_icons mentioned by Michelle W. and the WordPress.com team,Creating a regular feature means my readers have something specific to wait for at regular intervals, and this in turn gives my blog a hook.” Posting regularly on my blog is not an easy job as I am a busy teacher with heavy schedule plus working on my PhD that takes a lot of my time, in addition to participating in many projects with my students, and online opportunities, e,g, attending webinars, online conferences, online courses, and more. Since it is not frequency, but consistency, I decided to do it WEEKLY on FRIDAYS about not specific things. I will make it a little bit open. I can post an announcement about an online event that my readers can take part in. Sharing with them personal experiences, successful practices while teaching, touching moments with my students, new lesson plans, or tutorials are among many ideas I think of.

But, I will vary my style of writing and the topics provided each week; I mean one for a teaching event, another for a piece of advice telling them how to learn something new, and maybe a week for sharing a photo with a message and invite my readers to talk about it or write a collaborative story together.

You know my blog is about sharing various learning e-dventures that I don’t expect when and where I start them off, so I will make my Fridays’ Posts unpredictable, too.

Don’t forget to check out my Friday’s post today. Stay tuned! 🙂

Going further with my brand …

Smiling TipsIn addition to the blavatar that I created today, I kept trying other things to build my brand. One of them was creating another menu in which I added links to some helpful tips shared during this course “#Blogging101”. Then, I went to my blog widgets and added a custom menu. To make this section more attractive, I decided to make a custom image widget and put it above the menu. I also used Microsoft PowerPoint program to create this image using shapes, fonts, colors, and some other icons.

Here is how I did this task:

Step 1:
Go to your Dashboard – Appearance – Menus and create a new one.

Menu 1

Menu 2

Menu 3

Click “Custom Links” to add the URLs of your recommended sites.
You can add as many links as you can.

Menu 4

Menu 5

Step 2:
Go to your Dashboard – Appearance – Widgets, and drag a Custom Menu to your sidebar.

Menu 6

Menu 7

I hope this would be helpful!
🙂

Make it with Unsplash for FREE

Hello my readers, Black photo iconDuring week #3 of the “#blogging101” course, Michelle W. shared Unsplash; a very great site including lots of FREE images. According to its team, “All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking for any permission.”

I just wanted to share it with you all. The images are of a high resolution taking from so creative angles. One can use it adding his or her touches with the help of photo editors like PicMonkey.

For inspiration, check out this link. You will find lots of creative ideas. Please, enjoy! 🙂

As a teacher, I will download some catchy images with clear messages and use them as a warm-up or an ice-breaking activity with my students. Just to refresh their schemata and bring life into my classes.

Here is an example:

I ask them to look at the images below, and then tell me what comes to their minds answering the questions I provide them.

What is behind the green door?

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What is this boy waiting for?

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How can you help this family?

I just prepare myself for the next school year! I have to fill my bag with so many creative ideas to reach my students’ expectations. 🙂

Getting a step forward with my brand …

Day Fourteen’s task during the “#blogging101” course is to:
Extend your brand with one of the following: a custom site icon, a custom image widget, or a fan page.

Brand rubber stamp. Part of a series of business concepts.

Retrieved on July 23, 2015

I just want to thank Blogging U. for letting me know about “branding” and how to extend it through a variety of ways. First,  I love the idea of having my own site icon. It is also called Blavatar; a term that combines both Blog and Avatar. This is simply because “It is not just a logo, but it is a guarantee. When readers see something associated with my brand, they know what to expect.”

The instructions to upload this blog icon are so easy-to-follow. To save your time, here is a tutorial created by WordPress.com team. You can do it in a minute if you have your own icon already made.

For me, I spent the whole morning working on that blavatar. After trying out many tools to create icons, I decided to use Microsoft PowerPoint program as it is clean and user-friendly. I just played with the shapes, fonts, colors, …etc. And, I came up with 4 icons. Actually, I need your help to choose the best one for my blog.

Which one

Why letter e …?

Since I talk about my e-dventures as a teacher and other e-things that I learn and share with others, I select the letter ‘e” adding my human touch; I mean my big smile.

Please, vote for the one you like the most:

Thanks for voting and helping me!
🙂

A new e-dventure, not for me …

Day Thirteen’s task of the “#blogging101” course is to:
Pick a blogging event from the Community Event Listings, and participate in the next round.

It isn’t fun anymore! Yes, the title of my blog says, “… nonstop …”, but I frankly got bored. I just love trying new different things and activities to promote my creativity. It is not just blogging! Maybe I come back to reflect on my experiences once or twice a week. This doesn’t mean I don’t like to blog. I just want to take some rest …..

For this task, I checked out the event listings and took some time browsing and reading about the available opportunities. Then, I found something that I didn’t expect.There was an event that suits my students. Actually, it would be a great chance for them to improve their writing skills and get their voices heard. Here is something about it:

Teens tell their storyTitle: Teens Tell Their Story
Event Organizers: Sherinaspeaks
and A Little Daydreamer
When: Starts on July 22nd, 2015
Goal:
“It is a weekly prompts-based project created by two teen bloggers with a goal of creating an online space for teenagers to share their thoughts on issues that affect them.”
For more details, click here.

Last semester, I involved my students in a blogging experience in which they wrote and shared their stories in groups and individually for 2 months. It was a great success, but I made it private so students can feel more secure while posting and commenting to each other. This event is a little bit different as students will write for an authentic open audience. It is not an easy job, I know because this needs a more thorough focus on both content and form.

Let’s see if they can take part in this new e-dventure!
🙂

From another eye …

Day Twelve’s task of the “#blogging101” course is to:
Read six posts written in response to the same prompt, and leave comments on at least two of them.

Image Search was my daily post’s writing prompt that inspired me in the previous assignment. I decided to click around arbitrarily and see how it can take me. Quickly I chose 6 posts based on their catchy titles. How creative those bloggers were! They did the task so beautifully. In this post, I will talk about 3 of them.

leap into the future

Retrieved on July 21, 2015

Leap into your Future” was the title of the first post I read. Both the picture and the message were inspiring. In my previous post, I wrote a bout “Tomorrow” and what we can do to get things done. This author posted a similar idea that was about “Future” encouraging the audience to be more focused and disciplined to get the success one wants:

Leap into your future if you want to get anything done, it can take a long time to build bridges to get to the success you want. You have to be very focused and disciplined proceed with perseverance.Take the leap.

Retrieved on July 21, 2015

Retrieved on July 21, 2015

The picture of the second post was so catchy. A lot of doors were there. Paula wrote about the changes we have in our lives. I love her words so much:

I pray for grace to go with this flow of changes, to ride the waves. I feel the urge to lighten my load of things and prepare for movement into the unknown.

So many doors are closing.
I need to believe in other doors opening.

When we lose something that is dear to us, we takes a long time staring at this door although it is closed. We think that it may open again one day, instead of looking around for another door opening and starting a new adventure or finding a new beginning for a new life. Anyway, it is the human nature! Reading through the comments, I also found another inspiring quote shared by another fellow:

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” ― Helen Keller

The last piece of writing that I enjoyed reading came from Sukriti. She googled the word “Life” and got so touching picture that inspired her to write a poem not from her point of view as she said. This can be an invitation to read and reflect!

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Retrieved on July 21, 2015

Speechless! Her words are very expressive and colorful with deep meaning. Actually, she conveys what everyone of us feels when found after lost. I loved how she ends the journey with one’s self:

This is a place I call, elsewhere.
Where I reach every time I close my eyes.
It’s only me. Me and my trusty and quite rusty bench. With my thoughts.
It’s wonderful. 

Completing today’s task, I enjoyed reading about how to leap into my future, searching for opening doors always and never looking behind, and at last sitting with the self and trying to hear and feel by heart.

Blog posts I commented on:

Have you enjoyed reading them, too?
🙂

I’ll GET to it TOMORROW!

Day Eleven’s assignment during the “#blogging101” course is to:
Publish a post based on your own, personalized take on a blogging prompt.

I spent more than 2 hours “trying another prompt” to find something interesting with open options and enjoyable, too. Again and again, my visual style of learning played a big role while working on this post. The prompt that captured my eyes was:

Image Search:
Pick a random word and do Google image search on it. Check out the eleventh picture it brings up. Write about whatever that image brings to mind.

Have you noticed the amazing coincidence of No. 11? It is the assignment of Day 11 and according to my daily post’s writing prompt, I have to select “Picture No. 11.” I love such things that bring surprise. evoke thinking, and draw smiles on our faces because we just don’t expect them to happen. And this assignment is like a game in which I am going to play with words and pictures. Let’s have fun!

Back to my writing prompt, “Tomorrow” was the first word that came to my  mind. Hitting the search button, I found my eleventh picture so interesting and inspiring.

You know that there are some things that must wait for tomorrow. Maybe they are a little bit big to accomplish in a day or two or even in a month. Maybe it is our big dream that takes years. So always we keep saying, ” …. will get it tomorrow!” But, todo+listtomorrow comes and for many reasons we can’t finish what we promised ourselves to get it done. Have you tried to jot down a to-do-list everyday? Just small things that you have to do by the end of the day. And when you complete something, just check it. This will give you a sense of achievement and will encourage you to do more. For the task you can’t complete in yesterday’s list, TOMORROW is your day to start with.

Just start small and keep going.
Your big dream can’t come true unless you get started and take actions.
😉

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: Image Search.”

Have a BLOG featured once a week!

Day Ten’s assignment during the “#blogging101” course is to:
Create a blogroll to share a few links you love.

I created a new link category and called it “Featured Blogs.” I’ll keep sharing one blog a week telling my audience why I chose it. Of course, my readers will be eager to know who will be the next.

Retrieved on July 18, 2015

Which One?

My featured blog this week is “Impromptu Promptlings” by Calen Sariel.  Beside the title that’s linked to the blog’s URL, I added an image, and a short description to help my visitors get an idea about what they are going to read.

Why?

  • FeaturedThe author talks about a variety of topics, e.g., creative writing, poetry, fiction, quotes, books, insightful reflections, and more.
  • She is a prolific creative writer. You will notice that she always updates her blog daily more than once.
  • I love her interaction with the audience. One of her techniques to do so is leaving questions at the end of her posts to engage her readers and encourage them to talk about their experiences.
  • Always she responds to others’ comments and queries.
  • She follows her readers and leaves comments on their blogs building a bridge for connection and more discussion.

Let’s visit Calen’s blog and enjoy!
What do you think of this idea?
🙂