Category: Bloggiesta

Spring #Bloggiesta 2018 Mini-Challenge: Cleaning Up Categories

As one of the mini-challenges for the Spring 2018 Bloggiesta, Berls suggested organizing Tags, Categories and Labels on your blog. It’s a Mystery is my newest blog, so I thought it was somewhat tidy. After taking a look, however, it was obvious the categories need some work.

 

Spring Bloggiesta

Before organization:

Categories

Two categories stand out right away that could be removed:  Revision and Wrap-up Poll. There’s only one post under revision and it clearly belongs in the writing category. What was I thinking that day?

The Wrap-up polls are part of the Bestseller Code reading challenge that didn’t really work out, so they are no longer important enough to warrant a category.

Also, Berls recommends you shouldn’t have any posts in the Uncategorized category and I have several. Oops.

What kind of category is Fiction Review? It should be broken down by genre instead.

Mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense categories are not clear cut. There is a lot of overlap between those genres. I’ll have to check how other people handle them.  Any suggestions?

The Bestseller Code category books should probably also be categorized by genre, which means adding historical fiction, romance, and literary fiction categories at least.

Spring Bloggiesta 2018 Mini-Challenge Results

Wow, this is more work than I thought it would be, but I can see how it will improve a visitor’s experience to have the categories cleaned up and accurate.

Check out my sidebar for the results of organizing my categories for the Spring Bloggiesta challenge.

#Bloggiesta Spring 2018 Mini Challenge: Your Blog Security Plan

Blog security is something you probably wish you didn’t need to think about, but these days it is necessary because you may be vulnerable regardless of the size or activity level of your site.

For this Bloggiesta mini-challenge, develop a security plan for your blog and then share link to your post — or at least a few details — in the comments, if you like.

blog-security

 

Because each blogging platform is different, your blog security plan will be unique. To get you started, however, let’s go over some basics.

1. Always install updates immediately

No matter what platform you use, always be sure to install any software updates immediately. Many times the updates are issued to fix security vulnerabilities.

2. http Versus https

You may have noticed that a lot of commercial websites and blogs have changed the beginning part of the URL to “https.” What does that mean and should you do the same?

Http stands for “hypertext transfer protocol” and it is how linked text/data is transferred around the Internet. Nowadays hackers can intercept that information as it is moving from place to place and use it for their own purposes. For example, they might intercept a password and use it to gain access to your blog. To prevent unintended access, the information is encrypted or converted into a code. When the transfers are encrypted, it is called “https” or “http secure.”

If your blog is on a hosting service like WordPress.com or Blogger, it may already have been upgraded to https without your knowledge. Check the URL of your blog in your browser. The symbol of the lock (green) also means it is secure.

If you have a blogspot domain and it isn’t https yet, https for blogspot domains explains how to make the upgrade.

WordPress Self-hosted

For WordPress self-hosted blogs, how to make your site https or secure will be more complicated and will depend on your hosting server. Typically you will need to obtain a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. Your host may let you use theirs or you may have to register you own with a service like Let’s Encrypt (or see this review of 5 services).

Whatever you do, always back up your blog prior to making these changes. After you make the conversion, all the URLs in your blog/website will change to https. Your browser will give you an error, however, when you load any internal http links that didn’t change automatically.  All the internal links will have to be changed from http to https, including those for images.

To fix this problem, you need to do two things:

  • Set up 301 Permanent Redirect for the page URLs.
  • Search the entire website for http and change it to https (unless it is a link to an external site, which wouldn’t have changed).

For WordPress sites, you can use search and replace plugin to change it all at once. Examples of these type of plugins are Search & Replace and Better Search Replace.

Sound complicated and a lot of work? You may wonder if you really need to do it. That is a good question, but a tough one to answer. It is likely https will be required at some point in the future (Remember when Google required all blogs and websites to be mobile-friendly?) At this point you should at least read up on it and have a plan in place in case it becomes required.

Additional Blog Security Tips

  1. Back up your site regularly
  2. Use strong passwords, with mixes of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters
  3. Consider Two step authentication for WordPress.com blogs, if you have a mobile device
  4. Install security plugins — 10 Best WordPress Plugins 2018 at WP Blog
  5. Use the plugin to limit the number of failed login attempts a user can make
  6. Keep your personal computer secure by installing and using antivirus software
  7. Don’t login to your blog dashboard using public WiFi.
  8. Delete old plugins that you don’t use.
For WordPress Self-hosted Blogs:

One important security precaution is to not use “admin” as your login/username. If you have been using admin, WordPress makes changing usernames difficult, but not impossible.

This video shows how to do it:


See more at this related blog post from wpbeginner.

Hopefully that gives you some ideas for developing your security plan. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or have any additional suggestions.

Let’s all have a safe blogging experience!

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Example of a Security Plan

  1. Back up blog on the 30th every month
  2. Change username from admin to something safer
  3. Install a security plugin and update the settings
  4. Delete old plugins that might be vulnerable
  5. Find out what I need to do to convert my blogs from http to https and develop a plan to implement it.

 

Spring #Bloggiesta 2018: Time to Tidy Your Blog

Is your blog is disarray? Schedule lagging, to-dos building up, or feeling unorganized? Then join the Spring 2018 Bloggiesta from March 19-25 and tidy up your blog!

tidy your blog with bloggiesta

What is Bloggiesta?

Bloggiesta is an online party where you can find blog organization tips, take challenges to learn new things, and — best of all — meet some awesome bloggers!

If you are interested, post a to-do list like the one below and then link to the Spring Sign Up page. There is also more information to explore at the Bloggiesta blog.

My 2018 Bloggiesta To-Do List

  • Create a mini-challenge about blog security and post it. Blog security mini-challenge now posted.
  • Update the Bestseller Code 100 Reading Challenge Book List into October.
  • Participate in a Twitter party, particularly the one(s) on organization – well, I did go read the #bloggiesta hashtag on Twitter this morning.
  • Cross-post some reviews to GoodReads, etc. -This one will have to be done later.
  • Visit and comment on other Bloggiesta participants’ blogs If you didn’t see a comment from me either I couldn’t find your Bloggiesta post or for some reason I couldn’t post a comment. I did try.
  •  Revise this list as necessary –
  • Participate in other mini-challenges:
  1. The Labels, Categories, and Tags Mini-Challenge is something I didn’t even know I needed until I looked at my categories. Yikes! They need definitely need organizing. – Results now posted
  2. Juggling Life and a Blog has some great tips. I sometimes forget to keep a book at my side for down time. I’m too likely to check my social media instead. I need to use the time to read. Also, I keep saying I’m going to get my TBR under control. but it never seems to happens. (Now, where is the post-it note I wrote to myself about that?) (Update:  just read/listened to a wonderful article by Ann Patchett about how taking time to read can increase your ability to focus. Yes!)

Adding to my next Bloggiesta to-do list: (I’m posting these here to find when I create my next list)

  • Chapters and Charms suggested making some Tumblr-specific posts for Tumblr, which is an excellent idea I will blatantly steal and use for the next Bloggiesta.
  • Exploring new social media platforms:  I’ve noticed several bloggers have social media buttons that either I didn’t know you could have or have never heard of. I need to find out more.
  • Read X number of books and organize when to review each on a calendar.
  • Investigate making a Twitter thread

If you’re interested, I will be pinning to my Bloggiesta Wisdom Pinterest Board throughout the week.

Time to get busy.

Hope you all have a fun and productive Bloggiesta.

 

Winter 2018 #Bloggiesta: Tune Up Your Blog

Do you have a blog, particularly a book blog?

Time to spruce it up, catch up on those posts you’ve been meaning to write, and get re-energized about blogging by participating in the winter 2018 mini-Bloggiesta from February 3-4, 2018. Sign-ups are here.

 

blog party

What is Bloggiesta?

Bloggiesta is an online party where you find tips to get your blog organized, take challenges to learn new things, and — best of all — meet some awesome book bloggers!

My 2018 To Do List

  • Update the Bestseller Code 100 Reading Challenge Book List into June.
  • Check the sidebars on all my blogs for outdated text and widgets.
    • I took off the blogrolls on my oldest blogs. Does anyone still do those? They become outdated so quickly.
  • Make a few upgrades to my Roberta Gibson Writes website.
  • Cross-post some reviews to GoodReads, etc.
  • Visit and comment on other Bloggiesta participants’ blogs.
  •  Check out the past challenges for more ideas.
  • Revise this list as I think of more things.
  • Should back up all my blogs ASAP.

Time to get busy.

 

Summary:  I accomplished more than I thought I would, even though life got in my way yesterday. Three projects that seemed to be nearly completed took sideways turns on me and will now require significantly more work. Guess it was better to find the issues before they are submitted rather than afterwards, but it was still a bit disheartening.

Hope you all have had a fun and productive Bloggiesta.

 

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Spring 2017 #Bloggiesta Starting Post

Do you have a blog, particularly a book blog? Time to tune it up and get energized by participating in the Spring 2017 Bloggiesta running from March 20-26. Sign-ups are here.

Bloggiesta-Button

What is Bloggiesta?

Bloggiesta is an online party where you can get your blog organized, take challenges to learn new things, and — best of all — meet some awesome book bloggers!

My Spring 2017 To Do List

    • Look into the new features of the latest WordPress system and try to incorporate at least one into my Roberta Gibson Writes website.
    • Write and post a better author bio.
      1. Help! It’s at the top under “About Roberta.” It’s massive and boring. I’m thinking about making the beginning more personal and breaking up each section into its own page with links to them. Would anyone click through the links, do you think? Suggestions? Thanks to Crimson at Crimson Blogs About Books for some great suggestions.
    • Prepare for Poetry month in April by writing and scheduling three or four appropriate posts.
      • One done, two more in preparation
    • Prepare a wrap-up post for Sunday. I’ve been neglecting those.
      • The Sunday Post meme is a great way to catch up with other book bloggers. Wish I had time to read every one.
    • Update the Bestseller Code 100 Reading Challenge Book List into June.
    • Cross-post some reviews to GoodReads, etc. -Wait there’s a challenge at Blame It On the Books to do even more. I’ll have to try that one.
    • Visit and comment on other Bloggiesta participants’ blogs.
    •  Check out the Spring 2017 challenges for more ideas.

Time to get busy. Hope you all have a fun and productive Bloggiesta.

 

tuning-up-your-blog

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It’s Mini #Bloggiesta Challenge Time

Do you have a blog, particularly a book blog? Time to tune it up and get energized by participating in the Winter 2017 Mini Bloggiesta running from January 13-15.

Bloggiesta-Button

What is Bloggiesta?

Bloggiesta is a wonderful blog party where you can get your blog organized, take challenges to learn new things and, best of all, meet awesome new bloggers.

If you’d like to sign up to participate in this Bloggiesta event, make a to-do list/landing page like this one and then add the link to your post to the Bloggiesta sign-up page.

Be sure to look for the Twitter Chat tomorrow (Saturday Jan 14). I’m bummed because I’m going to be in a writing workshop and won’t be able to attend live.

My Winter 2017 To Do List

  1. Look into the new features of the latest WordPress system and try to incorporate at least one into my website.
  2. Prepare a round-up post for Sunday. I’ve been neglecting those.
  3. Update the 100 Book List into April
  4.  Investigate a new theme for my Wrapped In Foil Blog (children’s book reviews). It’s needs an updated look. Any suggestions?
  5. Visit and comment on other Bloggiesta participants’ blogs.
  6. Check out the mini challenges from previous years for even more ideas.

Time to get busy. Hope you all have a fun and productive weekend.

 

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#Bloggiesta Challenge: Bullet Journal for Your Blog

Andrea at The Overstuffed Bookcase has a wonderful mini-challenge for using a bullet journal to keep your blog organized.

I’m afraid I had to rush through this one a bit, because I’m due at a birthday party shortly. I highly recommend heading over to Andrea’s blog and reading more about the potential of bullet journals.

 

blog-post-list-2

 

Okay, I admit I’m totally weird, but I have a lot of blogs so I keep track of upcoming posts in vertical columns. How it works is each column is a blog, and each row is a day of the week. This way I can see all the posts scheduled for a given day and how they flow within a given blog. Sometimes posts on two blogs tie together.

Again, I was in a hurry, so it isn’t very neat and pretty. Hopefully you get the idea.

#Bloggista Challenge: Trying A Weekly Wrap-up

Jeanene at Got My Book blog has a Bloggiesta Mini-challenge to “Increase Readership & Engagement with a Wrap-up Post.” I’ve never done one before, so I decided to give it a try.

wrap-up-posts

Links to posts published this week:

This week has been a busy one, although I didn’t review any books. Instead, I

Upcoming posts:

  • Tips for editing manuscripts based on a workshop I attended yesterday
  • Review of a thriller Duet in Beirut

Reading update:

I am currently reading some nonfiction books as research for my upcoming NaNo writing project. I’m also hosting the Writer’s Studio this week, so I have out some of my favorite books about the craft of writing, such as Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, and Stephen King’s On Writing. For fun, I have Sue Grafton’s T is for Trespass (Yes, I’m behind).

Links to posts have read and enjoyed on other sites:

Mocha Girls Read has a great list of thrillers/suspense/mysteries to check out.

Oh, just found a list of new books coming out in all the different subgenres of suspense at View for My Books Blog.

Summary:

Wow, writing a wrap-up was actually fun. Jeanene suggests copying a template and starting the post at the beginning of the week, filling in links as you go. That sounds like a great idea!

She also suggests sharing your wrap-up post with a meme. Today I chose:

Sunday Post #231 Thunderstorms and crisp mornings

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#Bloggiesta Mini Challenge: Pinterest-Friendly Blogs

quick-tips-for-making-your-blog-pinterest-friendly

When it comes to Pinterest, don’t get caught napping! Spruce up your blog and join us for a Bloggiesta Mini Challenge for creating Pinterest-friendly blog posts.

As many of you probably already know, Pinterest is a popular social networking site that allows users to organize links, images, and videos by pinning them to virtual bulletin boards. Each link is represented by an image and a snippet of text.

example-pinterest-pin

Example Pinterest Pin

Pinning is a great way to keep track of and share information for projects, hobbies, and pastimes. It also helps you to attract followers for your blog and build your platform. Pins have a longer shelf life than other forms of social media. People may discover your links days, weeks, months or even years after you first pinned them.

Even if you don’t use Pinterest personally, many of your readers do and it pays to make it easy for them to share links to your work.

Here are some quick tips to get you started:

Tip I. Include Pinterest-Friendly Images in Blog Posts

Most bloggers know to include images in posts because they break up the text and increase page views (see a discussion why images are important at HubSpot). Because Pinterest users rely on images to identify interesting links, it is critical to pay attention to proportions, quality, and naming of the images in your posts. The good news is that Pinterest-friendly images look good on other social networking sites, too.

Step 1. Locate quality images appropriate for your topic.

If you like photography, you may want to take your own photographs for blog posts.

pinterest image poppy

 

Sometimes, however, you don’t have the luxury of taking your own photographs. If so, there are many places to find high quality images on the internet. Always make sure the image is either public domain or that you attribute the photographer properly if you use an image you download in a blog post.

A few places to find high quality images:

Step 2. Choose an image-editing program.

Adobe Photoshop has been the reigning champ of photograph editing for so long that it is regularly used as a verb (She was photoshopped). Not everyone can afford it, though. Learning to use it can take time, too.

Looking for an alternative?

Step 3. Crop images to correct proportions

Vertical images (those taller than they are wide) work best for Pinterest. The current recommendation is 735 pixels wide by 1102 pixels tall or a ratio of 2:3. I created the top image in Canva using their Pinterest template at 735 by 1102 pixels and then reduced it to 300 by 450 pixels to place in the post.

Step 4. Add graphics and text.

its-a-mystery-blog-2

Remember to include your blog name and perhaps your URL, if the image isn’t too busy. I chose not to add it to the top image because it would have covered the adorable sleeping dog.

Name your image using keywords.

Step 5. Add the image to your post.

Encourage readers to pin your post right away by including the image at or near the top.

Once you have good, pinnable images in all your posts, go ahead and make sure the rest of your blog is optimized.

Tip II. Set up a Pinterest Board to Share Your Posts

Make your posts easy to share by setting up a Pinterest board for your blog and pinning posts to it regularly.

 

its-a-mystery-blog-pinterest-boardExample of a Pinterest Board

I’ve seen conflicting advice whether to give the Pinterest board the exact name of your blog. Common sense would suggest that if your blog title is self-evident and has a least a few keywords, the title should be fine. If you got creative with your blog title, however, you might want to add a keyword or two. For example, the blog title can be the board title if it is “Science Books for Kids,”  but “Wrapped in Foil blog” might be better as “Wrapped in Foil’s Children’s Book Reviews.”

Remember to add a board description using keywords and also categorize it. Most book blogs will go in the “Film, music and books” category.

Tip III. Include Pinterest Social Sharing Icons

You probably already have social sharing icons, but it won’t hurt to double-check them.

  1. Most bloggers have “follow me” social networking buttons on their blogs, often at the top of the sidebar. Once you have a Pinterest board for your blog, create a button and link it to your board so people can receive your posts as you pin them.
  2. Check your “share this” buttons to make sure Pinterest is included. Readers should be able to share your posts to their boards easily.
  3. Consider getting a Pinterest browser button for your browser tool bar.

Tip IV. Engage Your Followers

Some tips for attracting and keeping followers on Pinterest.

  1. Always pin good, relevant content and make sure the pins go to valid post links, not just to the blog home. Nothing is more frustrating than clicking on a promising pin and not being able to find the post. Take the extra minute and make sure the links work.
  2. Instead of simply re-pinning material added by others, mix in some original content.
  3. Pin regularly, at least once a week (rather than bingeing).
  4. Follow your followers. You don’t have to follow all their boards, but it is usually easy to find at least one board that you like.
  5. Re-pin their material (see number 1).

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Pinterest Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge

For this mini challenge:

  1. Either create a new blog post or re-vamp an old one.
  2. Add at least one Pinterest-friendly image using the steps in Tip I.
  3. Leave a comment that you did the Pinterest mini-challenge with link to your post.

For easy sharing, I will pin your posts to a Pinterest Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge Board. Can’t wait to see how they look.

 

Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m learning how to do this, too.

 

Bloggiesta-Button

Now, back to Bloggiesta.

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#Bloggiesta: A Fall Tune-Up for Your Blog

Do you have a blog, particularly a book blog? Time to tune it up and get energized by participating in the Fall 2016 Bloggiesta, running from September 15-18.

Bloggiesta-Button

What is Bloggiesta?

Bloggiesta is a wonderful blog party where you can get your blog organized, take challenges to learn new things and, best of all, meet awesome new bloggers.

If you’d like to sign up to participate in this Bloggiesta event, make a to-do list/landing page like this one and then add the link to your post to the Bloggiesta sign-up page.

This year I’m excited to announce I will be hosting a mini challenge:  Tips for making your blog Pinterest-friendly – Now live!

My Fall 2016 To Do List

✅ 1. Fix the links in the early posts that broke when I moved to this domain.

✅ 2. Write two reviews and schedule them. Include Pinterest-ready images.

3. Prepare a video Whodunit Challenge (#5).

4. Post older reviews to Goodreads.

5. Do three two Bloggiesta mini challenges

6. Figure out how to improve the link to RSS in the sidebar (so it doesn’t list a post?).

✅ 7. Add a contact page.
(I’m not sure I like the look, though.)

✅  8. Memes are a great way to keep motivated and meet new people. I plan to go to the Master List of Book Blogging Memes and find one or two to join.

Tried out The Sunday Post meme here.

✅ 9. Visit and comment on other Bloggiesta participants’ blogs.

10. Check out the mini challenges from previous years for even more ideas.

Are you participating in Bloggiesta this year? What is on your to do list?

 

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