Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category
Today we have a brand new free theme especially for writers and bloggers!
Penscratch is a clean, sophisticated theme for sharing your writing. Whether you’re working on an analytical essay, an anthology of poems, or a piece of long-form fiction, Penscratch makes for a pleasant reading and writing experience all around.
Choose between a one- or two-column layout by adding widgets, add links to your favorite social networks, customize your home on the web with a site logo or header image, or add fancy pull quotes throughout your content.
Penscratch is also responsive, ensuring the transition between different devices and screen sizes is flawless for your readers.
Learn more about the free Penscratch theme at the Theme Showcase, or preview it by going to Appearance → Themes.
Blogging 201: Branding and Growth starts Monday, October 20. If you’re a recent alum of Blogging 101 looking to build on the skills you’ve developed so far, or a blogger looking for new ways to grow your site and its audience, this is the course for you.
What will Blogging 201 cover? We’ll introduce tools to increase your traffic within WordPress.com as well as through other platforms, discuss ways to develop a coherent, effective brand for your blog, and show how to use your archives and your site’s stats to build your readership.
During this two-week course we’ll give you a daily task and provide you with all the necessary resources and information to complete it (there will be no new tasks on weekends, to give you time to explore more on your own, or just publish a post or two). You’ll also have access to The Commons, a private, staff-moderated space where you can chat with other participants, ask questions, and give feedback.
Ending right before NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo kick off in November, Blogging 201: Branding and Growth will help you get your site ready for a new wave of viewers — as well as to keep them coming after their first visit.
Like all Blogging U. courses, there are no prerequisites for Blogging 201 (if you’d like to follow the courses in sequence, though, that’s fine: Blogging 101: Zero to Hero will be back in November!). Self-hosted blogs and blogs from other platforms are just as welcome to participate.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in trying, sign up for Blogging 201: Branding and Growth using this form:
Do you love stories from around the world? Check out the work of the following nine photographers on WordPress.com and allow your imagination to take you away…
Nathanael‘s monochrome photo of the Star Lite Motel in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, conjures images of wayward romances and clandestine meetings. We loved the marquee’s message, “Forgive and forget its human to err.” (sic) which offers an almost haunting absolution. For more of Nathanael’s work, check out his blog, G’Nat’s Eye View.
The image below, by UK photographer Andy Hooker, had us at hello. We love how the sign matches the woman’s red coat and how her right leg is in crisp focus just as her stride reaches the “h” above her head. Check out more of Andy’s work at LensScaper.
Bao Pham‘s photo of this graffiti sneer in bold, brilliant color lends an even more menacing effect to the shot of the motorcycle below, as if the bike’s owner is watching over you. The photo was taken in Melbourne, Australia. For more, visit Bao’s site.
At The Film Shooter, Kutay’s photo of this young, ever-so-elegantly dressed solo violinist, as seen busking in Paddy’s Market in Sydney, Australia, captured our imagination. We couldn’t help but wonder which piece he was playing.
From stand-still above to to photo-finish below, we loved the motion depicted in Paulo César Silva’s image of three cyclists in Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal. Visit COTTIDIANUS to see more of Paulo’s work.
From a split second in black and white to a split second in brilliant color, check out Ren Hoeck‘s photo of an elderly lady in Lima, Perú. We couldn’t help but wonder about where she had come from and where she was going.
At the last stop on our world tour, we have a photo by lotof at a bar in Freiburg, Germany. The juxtaposition between the bold faces in the doorway poster and the lone contemplative figure at the bar has us wondering about the man’s backstory: is he relaxing after a hard day at work, drowning his sorrows, or celebrating? Only your imagination knows for sure.
For more amazing photographs, follow the street photography tag in your Reader.
The content you publish on your site is the result of a lot of behind-the-scenes activity — and we’re not talking only about drafting posts and pages. Emails, meetings and events, documents and spreadsheets: as business owners and publishers you have a lot to juggle.
We’re excited to announce that we’ve teamed up with Google to offer our users the incredible power of Google Apps for Work right in their WordPress.com dashboards.
A powerful suite of tools
With the Google Apps for Work integration you’ll be able to set up your own custom email address based on your domain, putting a professional face on all your communications. For example, if your custom domain is onegreatsite.com, you can choose an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The custom email address is just the beginning. Google Drive (for storing all your files), Google Calendar, Hangouts for group video chats, and more — all are now within easy reach of your site, and available on your desktop as well as your mobile devices.
Using Google Apps for Work alongside your WordPress.com site makes it easier and faster to work with team members, partners, and customers.
Set up Google Apps for Work right from your dashboard
When you purchase a new custom domain, you’ll now have the option to register your domain with Google Apps for Work. You can choose between a standard subscription for $50 per domain per year, or go for Google Apps for Work with unlimited storage for $120 per domain per year.
You can find all the information on setting up your domain with Google Apps for Work on our support page.
Note: Google Apps for Work is currently available for new custom domains only. Already have a domain? Stay tuned for a future announcement when we make Google Apps for Work available for existing domains as well.
Carving out your very own corner on the web is important to you. You may be a brand-new user on WordPress.com — if so, welcome! — or a veteran blogger returning to an old habit. Recently on the Verge, Lockhart Steele, the editorial director of Vox Media, talked about getting back to blogging. On a noisy internet with many platforms, some are bringing their blogs back from the dead and reclaiming their personal turf.
But for me, the web ecosystem will always be bloggy at its core. I’m looking forward to being a part of it again myself.
No matter what type of blogger you are, these ten themes — ideal for personal blogging and writing — will inspire you: some are simple and understated, while others are bold and modern. Each theme works right out of the box, so you can start publishing right now.
Say hello to McKinley: a flexible, easy-to-use theme for writing, photographs, and short bits of content. The distinct post formats for your quote and link posts add blocks of color to your homepage, distinguishing quick posts from your longer pieces. Featured images also look great, while slideshows display at full width.
See McKinley in action on the blog of author Amanda Mininger.
A minimal design that gets out of the way? Check. Large font that’s easy on the eyes? Check. Pullquotes that supplement the reading experience? Check. Enter Syntax, a writing and reading theme with no distractions. Straightforward yet elegant, it works well with your longreads and chapter excerpts, but also displays featured images in your posts, which look fantastic in post archive view:
Check out how Economist contributor and Hannibal and Me author Andreas Kluth uses Syntax.
For writers who believe that images are as powerful as words, take a peek at Intergalactic, launched last week. Bold featured images and content blocks transform this theme into a visual feast, while the one-column layout creates a clean, quiet reading experience.
See Intergalactic take off on the site of journalist and photographer Bryan Smith.
There’s so much to love about Ryu, a popular personal blogging theme among our top ten. The large post titles are sophisticated, while the various post formats add variety to your site. (The background color of an image post automatically matches the uploaded image, which is a nice touch!) Subtle but effective design details are already in place, so you can activate the theme and start posting.
See Ryu in the wild on The Smallest Forest, a crafts and design blog.
A minimal theme with a cool scrolling header effect, Hemingway Rewritten has all the key features for most bloggers. Use the default countryside featured image, or upload your own custom header. Insert a few widgets in the sidebar on your homepage, or create full-width template pages to give your best content all the space it deserves. It’s a versatile yet clean layout, and Hemingway would be proud.
See Hemingway Rewritten transformed on The Disorder of Things.
One-column themes aren’t necessarily understated — just look to Eighties as the exception. Like the decade from which it gets its name, Eighties is fun and dynamic, from its bold blog title font to the huge full-width featured images. But despite the flashiness, it gives you the space to write, while the balance between your images and prose is tasteful.
Take Eighties for a spin on Camerajunky, the online diary of a camera addict.
Looking for something different from the themes we’ve showcased above? One awesome feature of Bushwick is the fixed header area on the left — best viewed on a bigger screen — which you can personalize with your own image. On the right, readers can scroll through your latest posts.
Check out Bushwick on the blog of artist Danny Gregory.
A single column, elegant typography, and lots of whitespace make Bosco an easy, pleasant reading experience. You’ll find unique treatments of post formats; for example, titles of link posts go straight to the content you’ve linked, rather than another page on your blog. You can also place widgets at the footer, to add cool extras without distracting your readers.
Readers will love the experience of Bosco — see it on Misprinted Pages, a blog on books and writing.
The final two themes in our list are premium, and our first — Pocket — mixes contemporary design with bold typography. Here, make your voice heard with attention-grabbing headlines, quotes, and stunning images. Your front-page archive is a single column, with distinct content blocks for your various types of posts. In the Customizer, you can also choose from multiple color palettes, select a grayscale effect for your featured images, and experiment with other extras.
See how writer, teacher, and swimmer Matthew Swanston uses Pocket.
One of my favorite new premium themes, Notebook is sleek and sophisticated. Set a commanding background image and introduce yourself on your homepage. Let the minimal graphic menu, which slides in and out on the left, direct readers to your content. The default typography is modern and easy-to-read, and images are used in various ways to enhance your site — not just as featured images at the top of your posts, but as background images in the post navigation and thumbnails in archive view.
Check out this premium theme on the Notebook demo site.
Today, we have a brand new free theme for you to enjoy!
Harmonic is a unique theme that really lets your content sing. Maybe you’re a band looking to make your home on WordPress.com. Perhaps you’re a photographer looking to showcase your work. You may be a blogger who just wants a theme that looks a bit distinctive. Harmonic has you covered.
With Harmonic you can build your own front-page layout. Choose from a title screen, showing your latest posts, page content, widgets or even a photo showcase using the Portfolio Custom Post Type. If sharing your writing is your aim, Harmonic has you covered with a simple, elegant, two-column blog layout. This theme also adapts to fit any device, making sure readers get a great experience, no matter which device they use when they visit you.
Harmonic is designed by yours truly and I really hope you enjoy using it as much as I did creating it for you. This theme is designed to stand out and I’m excited to see the sites you create.
Learn more about the free Harmonic theme at the Theme Showcase, or preview it by going to Appearance → Themes.
Here’s the latest collection of our favorite stories from writers and publishers across all of WordPress. You can find our past collections here — and you can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for more daily reading recommendations.
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Li, an associate professor of English at the New York Institute of Technology in Nanjing, China, recalls being forced by a teacher to criticize her best friend as an adolescent. “Criticism and self-criticism were required practices in every socialist social unit,” Li explains. “In the village school I attended, they took the form of trimester reports constituted by two parts: class criticism of each student and each student’s self-criticism.”
2. A Letter to Mitchell Browne, ‘Why Should Artists at Work Fund Idlers at Art?’ (Dave Lamb, School for Birds)
A Melbourne-based artist’s open letter to a journalist on eliminating arts funding: “The very best art will tell us not just who we are, but who everyone is, and will allow us to accept and understand not just what makes us different but what makes us unalterably the same.”
“They just look at him as LeBron James, the kid from the neighborhood”: Dan Robson reports from Akron and Cleveland in Ohio, meeting with Lebron James’s fans, surrogate father, former coaches, and the residents who watched him grow up.
An in-depth interview with the SpaceX founder on how we could make it to Mars — and why it’s important for us to get there.
Robert Rockaway on Prohibition-era Jewish mobsters, who — despite their criminal behavior — still saw religious observance as an integral part of their identity.
Jaya Saxena, whose mother is white and father is Indian, writes about her experience with being biracial: “You’re an intruder in either space, with no right to claim one or the other without a heavy caveat.”
The New Yorker is known for its exceptional reporting. This story, about a crippled legal system that left a 16-year-old imprisoned on Riker’s Island for three years without a trial, is particularly devastating.
War journalist Clare Morgana Gillis recalls her days reporting in Libya with James Foley.
A family’s answer to one of America’s most famous unsolved Mob mysteries.
Jessica Lee, a travel writer and author for Lonely Planet, recalls her time in the Middle East, primarily Cairo.
* * *
Before that, she was using a pseudonym on WordPress.com to blog about her experiences, share details about her life, and practice her writing. In 2007, shortly after New Year’s Day, Lee wrote the following in a blog post:
something in my brain burped. most of what i want to do is just out of my grasp. i feel like i know how to do them, but then when i go to do them, i just…CAN’T. day by day, i’m regaining my abilities, so i hope this is just temporary.
Lee’s commenters urged her to see a doctor, and the next day, she responded to them from a hospital bed: “I had a stroke! Will be better.”
I spoke with Lee about her experience, and what she has learned about herself and her writing.
* * *
It’s amazing that you could go through something so profound health-wise and chart a new path for yourself coming out of it. What’s the response been to your essay?
I’ve been blown away. As life-changing as my stroke was, the response, too, will probably go down in my life history as a turning point.
I had a blog — and I’ve been blogging since before it was called “blogging,” back when it was called “web journaling,” back in the days when Justin Hall was on links.net and when I wrote my posts in HTML. But before I spun up my anonymous blog, I was asked to stop blogging by a few family members. I was putting them at risk, they said, I was not to make myself so public.
Bottom line, I didn’t want to stop blogging, so I started up a blog under a pseudonym. I never told them about the blog. A few months later, I had my stroke.
The blog was one of the first places to which I turned when I had my stroke, before I knew I’d had a stroke. I wrote in my journal, too — but I turned to my blog in the wake of my stroke, which for me was a largely isolating event. I made some great friends. Got support that way. It was my village, for a time.
Also, my blog has always been a place to do some “low-stakes writing” — writing without the intention of publication, writing that is more therapeutic. That said, blogging has always been a venue for me to refine my writing voice — because after all, it is still a public space with readers.
What are the odds that a person could suffer a stroke at 33?
According to the New York Times, about 10 to 15 percent of strokes happen to people under the age of 45. That’s supposed to be about 1 in 1,000. And oftentimes, young people who have had a stroke are misdiagnosed and sent home.
I was the youngest person in the DCU (aka “stroke unit”) in the hospital by about 30 years during my stay. Most doctors were astonished by my age. They certainly didn’t suspect I’d had a stroke until they saw the MRI and its uncontested results. I could see how I could have been sent home and had to shoulder a mysterious ailment. I was lucky in that they figured it out and I got the care I needed to ensure the recovery I eventually had.
Can you talk about some specific posts that led you on a path both during and after your stroke?
Definitely, the post during which readers told me to go to the hospital!
I’m not sure where I found my voice after the stroke, really. I think there were people out in the internet reading — Carolyn Kellogg, who writes for the LA Times, had a blog called Pinky’s Paperhaus at the time, and she linked to me as a writer recovering from stroke. So there was definitely interest in my story and situation.
I really don’t think I found my voice regarding my stroke until years later. I wasn’t able to write about it until my post for Nova Ren Suma, who did a Turning Point series on her blog, to which I contributed with a reference to my stroke.
Not only has blogging my stroke experience refined my voice, it was also life-saving. And anonymity provided sanctuary.
What is your life like now?
It is as normal as I imagine it to be. It’s, honestly, better than my life pre-stroke. I’m following my dreams and choosing very carefully what it is I want to do each day, each month, each year. While in recovery, I had very limited energy, and had to be particular about my priorities; I decided to keep doing that, go forward.
And what about your writing?
Once you go through something like that, when so many of your abilities are taken away, your life is pared down to what it is you really want to get back.
I went through a very dark place at some point in my recovery — and although I don’t look upon that phase with fondness, I did learn what was most important to me, and what it is I most desired out of my life. And my writing became a front-and-center goal. I’d always known writing was important to me, but after the stroke, I knew I would channel everything I had to get back to writing.
Now that I’m writing again, I’ve more a sense of structure with regard to my writing projects; in fact, I’m obsessed with structure, because recovery is so much about stages and regaining structure. Because my brain was injured, I understood how writing happens, in my brain at least — that stories are modular, that I need quiet, that layers come with each retelling.
We have a brand new free theme for your blogging pleasure today!
Designed by Automattic’s very own Mel Choyce, Intergalactic is a stunning specimen for your personal blog. Bold featured images act as the backdrop to your text, giving you a high-contrast, readable theme that’s perfect for making your content pop. The one-column layout provides a distraction-free environment for reading, while the slide-out menu keeps your navigation and secondary content readily accessible.
In Mel’s own words…
Intergalactic was inspired by long-form storytelling sites like Exposure and Medium. I wanted to design a theme that focused heavily on showcasing your stories, images, and videos, and could flex its content to many different use-cases. I also wanted everything to be big — as big as the Beastie Boys (who inspired the name). It was great working with Caroline to bring Intergalactic to life.
Learn more about the free Intergalactic theme at the Theme Showcase, or preview it by going to Appearance → Themes.
Automattic is a distributed company — we all work from wherever we are. Right now, “where we are” is 197 cities around the world: New Orleans, USA. Montevideo, Uruguay. Tokyo, Japan. Vilnius, Lithuania.
Once a year, we get together somewhere in the world to meet, work alongside, learn from, and laugh with one another in an exhilarating, exhausting week called the Grand Meetup. This year, 277 Automatticians descended on Park City, Utah, for seven days in mid-September.
I flew across the country to spend time in a mountain lodge with a bunch of strangers I met on the Internet. And they are wonderful. #a8cGM
— Chris Hardie (@ChrisHardie) September 16, 2014
We introduced ourselves to new colleagues, reconnected with coworkers we haven’t seen since last year, and worked on ways to make WordPress.com even better. And of course, lots of us blogged about the experience, in words and images.
We were blown away by the brilliance and generosity of our colleagues…
I’m grateful to have met so many Automatticians from around the world who brought such kindness, curiosity, patience, fierce intelligence, creativity and humor to the time we had together. I’m grateful to have learned about their hobbies, families, personal journeys, quirks, pet peeves, amazing skills, unmitigated geekiness, and brilliant senses of humor.
- VIP Wrangler Chris Hardie
We marveled at the range of conversations we had, from the sublime to the absurd…
Here are some of the things I talked about this week:
- Scottish independence
- Taylor Swift
- My children
- Other people’s children
- Swing dancing
- Waffles (lack thereof)
- Fake morning talkshows
- Mario Kart
We soaked in the natural beauty of Utah…
Early morning takeoff, by yours truly.
And some of us got up close and personal with the wide Utah sky…
Happiness Engineer Jeremey DuVall realizes he’s just jumped out of an airplane.
We learned from one another, and had fun doing it…
I learned how to analyze data in Python with Carly, and went skydiving with Prasath. After discussing common security vulnerabilities with Anne, Cami and I plotted a podcast about absolutely nothing, and recorded part of our first episode…
If you asked me four years ago if I thought it were possible to enjoy working, I’d be dubious. If you asked me whether one could ever genuinely love and respect all their coworkers, I’d hesitate.
Over the past four years, the people of Automattic have demonstrated to me that it’s possible to do work you love with people you love. It’s not common — not yet — but it’s possible.
- VaultPress Eclectic Happiffier Chris Rudzki
We burned the midnight oil…
We worked, we played, we ate, we drank, we slept very little. We tried to make the world a better place, and if you think that’s me being dramatic you don’t know the people I have the honor of working with.
- Dot Organizer Cami Kaos
We took a lot of photos…
(Images above from Happiness Engineers Stephen McLeod, Pam Kocke, Andrea Badgley, Dennis Hong, and Andrew Spittle; Creative Director Dave Martin; Code Wrangler Allen Snook; Designamagician Dan Hauk, Mobile Maker Aaron Douglas; Growth Explorer Luca Sartoni; Spline Reticulator Dennis Snell; and Chief Semicolon Advocate Michelle Weber, AKA me.)
On the final day, Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg led us in a toast that summed up the reason we’re all here…
I’m really grateful that I get to work with the people I do, and on the problems that we work on together. It’s far from easy, in fact each year brings new challenges and I make mistakes as often as not, but it is worthwhile and incredibly fulfilling. A few hours ago I gave a closing toast and teared up looking around the room. So many folks that give their passion and dedicate themselves to jobs both large and small, visible and unseen, to help make the web a better place.
- WordPress co-founder and Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg
And when the week was over, heading home was bittersweet…
This morning was filled with so many hugs (and maybe a tear or two). I told myself that I was looking forward to returning home. To my own bed (although the sleep I got in the silence of the Park City night was the best I may have ever experienced). To regular exercise and home cooking. To the routine of my everyday life. And I was looking forward to that. And even though I knew I would miss my colleagues (it’s happened every time I return from a trip), the weight of the fog of sadness still surprises me when it descends.
I read their blogs. I like their Facebook posts. I retweet their Tweets. And I miss them.
- Happiness (w)Rangler Lori McLeese
If you think you might want to work with this motley crew and join us in 2015’s mayhem…
… we’re hiring. (And yes, you’ll get to make up your own job title, too.)