Level Up with Blogging U.

Thousands of bloggers have used Blogging U’s step-by-step email courses to get started, grow as writers, create beautiful websites, learn the ins and outs of WordPress.com, push their photography skills, and more.

There are ten different courses currently available, for folks of all interests and skill levels. Click any course’s title to learn more about it and to get started!

  • Blogging: Learning the Fundamentals — a solid grounding in the three big components of blogging: publishing, customizing your blog, and engaging with the blogging community.
  • Blogging: Branding and Growth — audit your brand, analyze your stats, explore social networks, learn about SEO, and more in this intermediate course.
  • Blogging: Intermediate Customization — go in-depth into the customization options available on all WordPress.com sites. Learn to work with themes, custom headers, background and fonts, widgets, and basic HTML.
  • Writing: Intro to Poetry — find your inner Dickinson with daily poetry prompts, and sharpen your verse by learning some basic poetic forms and devices.
  • Writing: Shaping Your Story — an intermediate course on the art of revision: four weeks of self-editing and rewriting. Dig into the process of focusing and building a story, whether fiction or nonfiction.
  • Photography: Developing Your Eye I — a fun introduction to the fundamentals of photography, with 10 daily themes and shooting tips. Use any camera you like: the lens on your phone, a point-and-shoot, or a dSLR.
  • Websites: Build a Business Site — create a website to help you meet your business goals. Publish pages and add site navigation, look at themes and customization, understand custom domains and SEO, and more.

Courses give you a daily assignment or writing prompt, along with the technical help you need to complete the task and insider advice from both our editors and the wider blogging community; each course has a handy resource page collecting everything in one place for you to refer back to whenever you’d like. Publish new posts using the course’s tag  and you’ll be able to connect with others working through the same course for support, feedback, and friendship.

Click on any course title for more detail on what it covers and to begin immediately (click the “Start” button on the course’s page to enroll) or read on to learn more about how Blogging U. works.

FAQs

How do I start a course?

Visit the page for the course you’re interested in and click the “Start” button — that’s it! If you’re logged in to WordPress.com, you’ll receive an introductory email right away, and your first assignment a few minutes later. If you’re not logged in, we’ll prompt you to do so, and you’re off and running. Do each assignment as you’re able, and interpret them however makes sense for you and your site.

What if I want to stop?

No problem — every email you’ll receive includes an unsubscribe link at the bottom. Click it, and the course stops.

This won’t affect any of your other WordPress.com emails, like notifications. And if you want to give the course another try, you can register again.

How many courses can I take? Can I take them more than once?

As many as you’d like, as many times as you’d like. We recommend taking one course at a time — blogging is fun, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be overwhelming! — but you’re free to take multiple courses simultaneously.

What if I need assistance during the course?

Every assignment includes expert advice from our staff as well as links to more resources and to our customer support folks, called Happiness Engineers.

How do I connect with other bloggers during my course?

Reaching out to other bloggers helps participants get the most out of Blogging U. courses. We encourage you to use the tag for your course when publishing posts (e.g., #bloggingfundamentals) and to browse that tag in the Reader to find and connect with other bloggers. If you don’t know what tag to use or browse, don’t worry — when you begin a course, we’ll tell you.

We also have a weekly Community Pool discussion thread where anyone can seek or give feedback on any aspect of blogging. A new thread opens every Monday. And each Friday, new bloggers are invited to share their first posts with the community in our First Friday thread.

What if I don’t blog on WordPress.com?

All general assignments (publishing posts, customizing your blog, leaving comments, etc.) are applicable to any blog, anywhere. However, you’ll need to have a WordPress.com account to register for a Blogging U. course, and any specific how-to guidance we offer will be specific to WordPress.com.

How much does each course cost?

Nothing. Blogging U. courses have always been free, and still are.

Ready to register? Head to the Blogging U. home page to get started!

Filed under: Better Blogging, Community, Customization, Writing
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Building in Paris Exhibition

The Fondation Louis Vuitton’s exhibition “Building in Paris” is currently on view at the Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia. The installation retraces the genesis of Frank Gehry’s magnificent building while featuring a work by French artist Daniel Buren especially created on this occasion.

The exhibition “Building in Paris” presents a selection of scale models assembled to retrace the history of Fondation Louis Vuitton’s building in Paris and provide insights on the design process, from the stunning glass sails to the interior spaces. Visitors delve into the building’s exceptional architecture, as well as the rich program of events and activities held at the Foundation.

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Initially unveiled in Paris on the occasion of the inauguration of Fondation Louis Vuitton, the exhibition was redesigned by Gehry Partners as part of the Foundation’s itinerant exhibition program “Beyond the Walls”. Moreover, presenting an installation especially conceived by Daniel Buren for the Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia, this exhibition also echoes the ephemeral intervention that the French artist made on the Fondation’s glass sails. This is a unique opportunity for the public to discover a monument that is already emblematic of 21st architectural creation.

The exhibition runs until November 26, 2016 at the Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia, Calle del Ridotto in Venice.

Open Monday-Saturday, 10 am to 7:30 pm and Sunday from 10:30 am to 7:30 pm.

Images via Louis Vuitton


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It’s Time: Apply For Early Access to Your Own .blog Domain Name

If you’ve been looking for the perfect address for your blog, it’s about to get even easier. Millions of new .blog domain names (like yourname.blog) will be available this November — and starting today, you can apply to secure your own domain name.

Just go to get.blog and apply to pre-register the domain you want. Like .com before it, .blog is clear and accessible, and it creates millions of fresh, new options for naming your blog. It’s the perfect way to personalize your home on the web.

With a domain like .blog, you can get a name that truly matches your identity. Plus, you’ll get the same Google search benefits as any other custom domain.

How to apply for your .blog name

Early applications start at $250 USD, and will be open until November 9th. It’s the best way to secure your own .blog domain ahead of the November 21st launch.

After the launch, any .blog domain that isn’t taken will be available at get.blog, starting at the standard yearly price of $30.

Meet Dave.blog, Design.blog, and more

A .blog site can be anything you want! Here are just two great examples:

  • Dave.blog: Dave.blog is the new site from pioneering software developer and writer Dave Winer, one of the founders of the blogging movement.

Get future .blog updates

If you’d like to be notified about other upcoming .blog updates, just sign up here and we’ll keep in touch!

Filed under: Domains, New Features, WordPress, WordPress.com
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Les Parfums Louis Vuitton

Since its founding, the Maison Louis Vuitton has always been inspired by far flung destinations and driven to accompany voyagers wherever they travel.

Metaphorically, travel is not a destination: it is a feeling that constantly nourishes body and soul, a new experience that can make your heart skip, leaving an everlasting memory.

The savoir-faire of Les Parfums Louis Vuitton: Master perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud, a native of Grasse, the birthplace of both perfume and leather craftsmanship, spent months travelling the world in search of inspiration. Breathing the fragrance of exotic places and rare materials, he created Les Parfums Louis Vuitton: a journey of emotions.

Les Parfums Louis Vuitton

The collection consists of seven olfactory emotions: from the airiness of Rose des Vents to the intoxicating Turbulences, the ecstasy of a first night with Dans la Peau to the mindful immersion in nature with Apogée; from the self-revealing Contre Moi to an exploration of a darker side with Matière Noire and the explosion of the senses with Mille Feux… Les parfums Louis Vuitton describe a journey of emotions.

Les Fontaines Parfumées

The Maison Louis Vuitton unveils its creative atelier in the heart of Grasse, an emblematic domain.
One need only pass through the wrought iron gates of the property – Les Fontaines Parfumées – to immediately forget the cars racing up and down the Route Napoleon. Suddenly, you feel the cool shade of majestic trees along the main avenue. You can already hear the flow of La Foux, Grasse’s historical spring, as it courses through small stone channels, past the fountain and down to the old mill below.
A little farther on, one arrives at the main building with its beautiful terrace; named Les Fontaines Parfumées, or “the scented fountains”, this property has an actual perfume fountain installed in the rotunda since the 1920s where visitors would come to fill their bottles directly.
This estate is now the cornerstone of Louis Vuitton perfumes and will serve as an olfactory creative center for LVMH.

About the Maître Parfumeur

Named Maître Parfumeur of Louis Vuitton in 2012, Jacques Cavallier Belletrud traveled the world for four years to perfect the first collection of Louis Vuitton perfumes.

As a schoolboy in Grasse, Jacques Cavallier Belletrud used to walked by an imposing portal. He had no idea what sat behind the wrought iron gates that so intrigued him. He could never have imagined that, in 2016, this very place would become his creative workshop.

At the age of eight, Jacques Cavallier Belletrud went to his father, a perfumer, and told him he wanted to follow in his footsteps. He learned perfume notes the way other children practiced piano scales. When he got good grades in school, his father allowed him to weigh out formulas. The day after receiving his high school diploma, he began working in a perfume factory in Grasse, where he learned to distill flowers. At 18, he created his first formula — but his father reminded him that becoming a perfumer takes much more than mixing a few scents together…

Les Parfums Louis Vuitton: available from September 2016 for US$240.

Images via Louis Vuitton


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Three Ways to Showcase Instagram Photos on Your Website

Your Instagram account is a great way to share your life, products, and services online. With all that great content, why not showcase your Instagram account on your website or blog? Learn three ways WordPress.com makes it easy and discover other sites that are doing it well.

Activate the Instagram Widget

The Instagram Widget allows you to display your latest Instagram photos in your site’s sidebar, footer, or other widget areas available with your theme.

La Colombe is a chain of coffee shops in New England. Their blog, The Daily Grind, runs on WordPress.com, using the MH Magazine theme. They display their Instagram account prominently on their site using the sidebar widget area.

 

Daily Grind Blog

If you’d like to show off your latest shots like La Colombe, begin by adding the Instagram Widget to the widget area of your choice. You’ll have to grant WordPress.com access to the Instagram account from which you want to display photos. You can only display images from an Instagram account that you own or manage.

Embed an Instagram photo on a post or page

Whether you’re blogging about your new pair of flip-flops or your recent summer road trip, you can add snaps from your Instagram account to tell the story. Embedding an Instagram photo includes the likes and comments the photo is generating and encourages your readers to follow your Instagram account.

Ily Magazine is a new digital magazine founded by Erika Ramirez. It uses the Goodz Magazine theme and features essays, interviews, and poetry about love, passion, and relationships. 

Ily Cover

In an interview with Amy Forsyth, author Jessica Rovniak includes a throwback Instagram photo right in the body of the post. 

Amy Forsyth Instagram

To embed an Instagram photo in a page or post, copy the link of the Instagram photo on any public account and paste it into the WordPress.com editor. Your photo will appear along with the caption and likes.

Add an Instagram social media icon

Another way to make Instagram a part of your website is to link to your account using a Social Media Icons Widget.

Pine and Crave is a food blog by Mackenzie Schieck. She shares her recipes, home-decor ideas, and lifestyle tips with beautiful photographs and thoughtful writing using the Zuki theme. 

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Mackenzie features her Instagram account with the Instagram Widget as well as the Social Media Icons Widget in her theme’s sidebar. To help her Instagram followers find the related content on her website, she’s also created a dedicated page called Instagram Bites, where she publishes the Instagram images and links to the related posts.

Pine and Crave website

To add the Social Media Icons Widget just like Mackenzie, launch the Customizer and click on widgets. Select the widget area and the widget, then add your Instagram username in the proper field.

 

If you have an awesome Instagram account to share, try out these features on your website today!

Looking to do more with your website?

If you’re eager to make your mark on the web with a professional website or an impressive blog, consider the Personal Plan.

The Personal Plan includes:

  • A personalized domain that’s all your own.
  • No more ads on your site — just your content.
  • 3GB Storage Space for all your files.

In addition, WordPress.com Plans come with fast, friendly help from our expert Happiness Engineers: ask any question from theme help to setting up pages to adding widgets on your WordPress.com site. We’re ready to help make your site even better.

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Filed under: Customization, Embeds, Features, HowTo, Photos, Social, Technical, Widgets
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Browser Notifications on WordPress.com

Today we’re launching a feature that will show instant notifications for new comments and likes — even when you are not actively using WordPress.com. Browser notifications give you a real-time sense of your readers’ reactions, allowing you to stay more engaged with your audience. Notifications will show up in Chrome or Firefox in the same location where each browser normally displays notifications. They will appear whether or not you have WordPress.com open, as long as your browser is running.

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Browser Notifications for WordPress.com as seen in Chrome

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Browser Notifications for WordPress.com as seen in Firefox

You’re in complete control. You can enable browser notifications from the notifications page of your personal settings. If your browser supports them, you’ll see an option at the top of the page to enable browser notifications.

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Browser notifications are supported in the latest versions of Chrome and Firefox — if your browser isn’t up to date, make sure you update to the latest version.

 

Filed under: Admin Bar, New Features, Notifications, WordPress.com
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Louis Vuitton Series 5 Fall/Winter 2016 Ad Campaign

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Louis Vuitton “Series 5”, the campaign for the Autumn/Winter 2016 collection, is a multiple narrative for which Bruce Weber is the pictorial maestro. In a visual symphony, he captures the various characters that Nicolas Ghesquière likes to call heroines. Ever on the move, these modern trial blazers are orchestrated as graphic gures, like a tribe of determined women setting out for adventure. A heroine among heroines, Selena Gomez does a star turn for this collection.

The shoot for this campaign took place in Miami, Bruce Weber’s favorite turf. It is composed like a “work in progress” for the photographer, who at rst wanted to place his heroines on a boat. It was while seeing the boat being transported to the dock that he decided to leave it “as is”, creating visual dissonance that gives rise to an unusual element of architecture. From this illogical atmosphere emanates a graphic purity, a sort of tension that acts as a counterpart to the models’ vitality.

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“In addition to being an incredible photographer, Bruce Weber is also a true choreographer of images. He knows how to capture the energy of each individual, and his images are always dynamic, almost alive. I love the unusual perspective he brings to such a major star. Selena’s popularity is fascinating; she’s an icon for her generation. And yet, there is a disarming sincerity and a true presence about her, she’s very direct and grounded. She’s spontaneous and always up for discovering new things. Two years ago, she had already approached me in her very simple, easy-going manner and now I’m watching as she changes and grows. For a designer, it’s extremely gratifying to participate in the process as a woman evolves.” Nicolas Ghesquière

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“I have had the honor of working with Bruce Weber before, so it was great to already have a connection and I consider Nicolas a good friend at this point. We did the shoot in Miami and it was incredibly laid back. The both of them are very passionate and enthusiastic about their work. Wearing Vuitton makes me feel strong and con dent. Nicolas knows how to make a woman feel good about herself.” Selena Gomez

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Artistic Direction: Nicolas Ghesquière
Photographer: Bruce Weber
Creative Direction: Roonie Cooke Newhouse
Talent: Selena Gomez
Models: Jean Campbell, Sora Choi, Luisiana Gonzalez, Erika Linder, Rianne Van Rompaey and Natalie Westling
Stylist: Marie-Amélie Sauvé
Make-up: Peter Philips
Hair: Paul Hanlon
Shoot Location: Miami, USA

Images via Louis Vuitton


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Field Notes: Podcast Movement 2016

Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do in the community. This week, we share our experience at the Podcast Movement 2016 conference.

People use WordPress.com to share many types of stories, from written essays and photo galleries to podcasts. Podcast Movement has quickly become the conference to attend for audio storytellers, so we were excited to be there to support the podcasting community and spread the word about podcasting tools on WordPress.com.

Live from the WordPress.com booth

Cesar Abeid, Trevor Montgomery, and Dustin Hartzler, Happiness Engineers at Automattic, attended the latest installment of this exciting event earlier this month in Chicago, Illinois. The conference, now in its third year, drew over 1,500 attendees. WordPress.com was a sponsor, so we had a great opportunity to engage with the community from our booth — and to feel the love for WordPress!

Podcast Movement 2016: A Recap

There were sessions on how to get started with podcasting, how to monetize your show, best practices for conducting interviews, and many other topics aimed to help podcasters take their shows to the next level. This year’s speakers included Alex Blumberg, former producer for This American Life and Planet Money on NPR, and Dan Miller, bestselling author of 48 Days to the Work You Love.

Hundreds of conference goers stopped by the WordPress.com booth, where we talked about using WordPress for podcasting and the different tools to publish and promote a show. We were also available to offer hands-on help with bloggers’ WordPress sites.

Podcasting on WordPress.com

While many podcasters are using self-hosted WordPress.org sites, some attendees did not know that WordPress.com also supports podcasting.

Did you know: according to Todd Cochrane from Blubrry, creators of the PowerPress podcasting plugin for self-hosted WordPress sites, there are over 200,000 active podcasts in iTunes. Since Blubrry powers over 60 thousand of them, at least 30% of all currently active podcasts are running WordPress!

WordPress.com makes it very easy to get started with podcasting. All you need to do is create a new post category, change a few settings in your dashboard, and submit your podcast to iTunes and other catalogs. Just follow these steps to launch your podcast (if you don’t have a WordPress.com site yet, get one here).

Some of the advantages of podcasting with WordPress.com:

  • Simplicity: Both your website and your media are hosted in the same place, making it easier to manage your content.
  • Security: Your podcast and site will be protected by WordPress.com against attacks and spam.
  • Backups: All content published on WordPress.com is protected and backed up so you don’t have to think about it.
  • Maintenance-Free: Your WordPress.com site is always running the latest version of WordPress, and you will never have to worry about updates.

We continue to work on tools for podcasters here at WordPress.com, and would love your input on how we can make them better.

What’s your show?

Do you have a podcast? Tell us about it and post a link to it in the comments below!

Filed under: Automattic, Community, Events, WordPress.com
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Handbags for a Cause: Kent Stetson Black Lives Matter Clutch

Kent Stetson Black Lives Matter Clutch

I first saw Kent Stetson’s Black Lives Matter clutch on Instagram (you must follow @kentstetson), and couldn’t wait to feature it on HR! I absolutely love this clutch for a couple of reasons – (1) it was designed to spread peace and awareness; (2) I love the eye popping yellow and multi-color interior flap; and (3) 25% of the proceeds will be donated to the Black Lives Matter Organization. #BlackLivesMatter is an online forum intended to build connections between Black people and our allies to fight anti-Black racism, to spark dialogue amongst Black people, and to facilitate the types of connections necessary to encourage social action and engagement. 

The Black Lives Matter clutch is handmade in the USA, comes with a removable cross-body chain, logo dust bag, clear vinyl inner pocket and is individually signed. Price: $205.00 at KentStetson.com.

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Designer Deals: Chanel Purple Quilted Washed Lambskin Jumbo Single Flap

Chanel Purple Quilted Washed Lambskin Jumbo Single Flap

I have been on the hunt for a Chanel bag that really speaks to me which is challenging because I love bright colors and fun prints but also know that it’s more practical to invest in a more classic color and style. Don’t you just hate the word “practical”?! In my mind, practical = safe and boring. If you’re going to spend hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on a handbag, shouldn’t it be a bag that you absolutely love?! I want a bag that I love so much that it makes me feel like doing cartwheels every time I carry it. That being said, I just discovered this beautiful Chanel Purple Quilted Washed Lambskin Jumbo Single Flap at Jill’s Consignment and can’t help but think that it might be “the one”! It features soft washed lambskin leather and ruthenium hardware; front flap with CC turn-lock closure and exterior flat pocket. The chain & leather entwined shoulder strap can be doubled and worn short or pulled thru to wear long. It has purple leather lining with flat pocket and zippered pocket. This purple jumbo Chanel bag is in pristine condition inside and out and comes with dust cover. Carried very gently and sparingly over the years. There is no corner rubbing, no scratches to the hardware, no stains, spots, marks or damage anywhere on the bag. Price: $2,500 at Jill’s Consignment.

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