Tag: Blogging Tips

#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.



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!


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.



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.


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.






#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.




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.


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.


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


Adding a Pinterest Board Widget to Your Blog Posts


Having trouble adding a Pinterest board to blog posts? Here are some tips for including a Pinterest board widget for blogs on different platforms. See below for an example of what a widget looks like. (Note:  This is how it can be done in September 2016. As you well know, how to do these things can change rapidly.)

For blogs that will accept javascript:

  1. Sign into your Pinterest account.
  2. Click on the stylized person icon in the top right corner to get to your Pinterest boards.
  3. Choose the board you want to include in your blog page and select it. It should open up.
  4. At the top of the board should show three Pinterest icons. Click on the icon that is 3 dots (…). It is on the right.
  5. A pop up menu should show up. Choose “make a widget.” That should take you to the widget builder page.
  6. Pick the “board” widget option, edit it, and add the code to your blog post as instructed on the page.

Recently, javascript has been susceptible to security concerns. Some blog platforms no longer accept it readily.

For WordPress.com blogs:

If you have a free WordPress.com blog, as of today you can simply add the URL of your board to the content of your post (without linking it!) and it should convert to a widget when you publish.


Self-hosted WordPress blogs:

To bypass the need for javascript, download a WordPress.org plugin like Pinterest Widgets.

You can download a plugin two ways. Either go to the Pinterest Widget page, download the plugin and then upload it manually to your server,


  1. Go to the dashboard of your WordPress blog and select “Plugins.” When the menu pops up, elect “Add New.”
  2. Type “Pinterest” or “Pinterest Widget” into the keyword box.
  3. Select “Pinterest Widget” or another similar plugin of your choice.
  4. Activate the plugin.
  5. Click the settings link (either on installed plugin page or Pinterest Widgets under “settings”) and follow the instructions for editing and adding a board widget.

As of right now, you copy the code on the Pinterest Widget settings page, replace the example url with the url of your Pinterest board and paste it into the text version of your blog post. You should be able to see the board in Preview and once you publish.

And there you have it:

[pin_board url=”https://www.pinterest.com/sandverbena/its-a-mystery-blog/”]


Was this tutorial helpful?

Please let me know if you have any questions.



#Bloggiesta Mini Challenge: Pinterest-Friendly Blogs


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

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.


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).


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.

[pin_board url=”https://www.pinterest.com/sandverbena/pinterest-bloggiesta-mini-challenge-board/”]


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



Now, back to Bloggiesta.





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