Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category

Five Engaging Longreads Stories You Might Have Missed

Longreads has been connecting readers with quality stories since 2009, and since joining Automattic in 2014, we’ve published more than 100 pieces of original reporting, essays, and book excerpts from talented writers and reporters from across the globe. Here are five.

“Violet,” by Adele Oliveira

Illustration by: Kjell Reigstad

Illustration by: Kjell Reigstad

Violet was born at 25 weeks and five days—more than three months ahead of her due date. This is a story about becoming parents in the face of uncertainty.

I didn’t think I could handle the loss. But when I saw my daughter’s tiny red body under saran wrap on a tilted, flat bed, a thousand cords and wires attached to her chest, her eyes not yet open, and a ventilator breathing for her, I was not surprised to find that I loved her right away. I knew I’d never love anyone more, and I knew I’d always miss her if she died.

“The Fullness of a Moment,” by Jaime Green

Photo Courtesy: American Museum of Natural History

Photo Courtesy: American Museum of Natural History

Half a century ago, the Hall of New York State Environment in the American Museum of Natural History was not only the future of museum design, but also, one man hoped, the future of democracy itself.

Many things here are lovely or sweet, but almost nothing is beautiful. Nothing beautiful, nothing big, nothing cool. And nothing new. In a museum that otherwise shows visitors the most awe-inspiring science in the most modern and attention-grabbing ways, here is science of the most ordinary things in the world, the science of your humble backyard. Yet it is in the company of blue whales and cosmic wonders, this homeliest and homiest of halls.

“The Freelancers’ Roundtable,” by Eva Holland

Illustration by: Kjell Reigstad

Illustration by: Kjell Reigstad

A conversation between veteran freelancers Eva Holland, Josh Dean, Jason Fagone, and May Jeong about pitching stories, negotiating contracts, and breaking into a tough industry.

Josh Dean: I think we’re probably all going to agree that finding ideas is the single hardest thing about this job. It’s surely the single hardest thing about any kind of writing, at least once you get some experience and have built enough of a reputation to get past the gatekeepers. I can imagine that if there were a very young and new writer in this group, he or she would say that getting attention, getting ideas looked at, is the hard part.

“The Queen of the Night,” by Alexander Chee

Illustration by Carl J. Ferrero, Design by Sarah Samudre

Illustration by Carl J. Ferrero, Design by Sarah Samudre

The first chapter from Alexander Chee’s much-anticipated second novel.

When it began, it began as an opera would begin, in a palace, at a ball, in an encounter with a stranger who, you discover, has your fate in his hands. He is perhaps a demon or a god in disguise, of­fering you a chance at either the fulfillment of a dream or a trap for the soul. A comic element—the soprano arrives in the wrong dress—and it decides her fate.

“Rebel Virgins and Desert Mothers,” by Alex Mar

Illustration by Matt Lubchansky

Illustration by Matt Lubchansky

In partnership with Atlas Obscura, we produced this story about the radical women of early Christianity.

Many of the female leaders of Christianity—in the Catholic Church in particular, with its 1.25 billion followers around the world—are barred from being fully ordained and are closely overseen by men. But this was not always the case. Scores of early Christian women—like Marcella, the desert-dwelling Susan, or the scholars Melania and Paula—embraced radical lives, helping the young religion fan out across the Roman Empire and beyond.

Each of these stories were made possible by readers like you who’ve become Longreads members to fund stories by outstanding writers and publishers. Visit Longreads to read more engaging stories hand-picked by our team.

Filed under: Reading
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A Faster Mobile Web for All WordPress.com Users: AMP Is Here

Your sites are about to get even faster on mobile devices: starting today, WordPress.com sites support Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – a new initiative spearheaded by Google to dramatically improve the speed of your pages loading on phones and tablets.

The best part? WordPress.com users don’t need to do a thing. AMP works automatically, loading a lightning-fast version of your posts. This means readers will get your content even faster on mobile when they come to your site from Google search, or news apps like Nuzzel.

amp-wpcom-screenshots

To see AMP in action on WordPress.com, check out this article, or see a Google search demo at g.co/amp.

Speed matters on the web. AMP is an open-source framework that allows browsers and apps to load your sites quickly on mobile devices. See the AMP site for more details on how it works. We’re proud to be a partner in this initiative.

And if you have a self-hosted WordPress site, we’ve got you covered too. Here’s a free AMP plugin – click here to install it.

Expect to see more apps and sites embracing AMP in the weeks and months to come – and as a WordPress.com publisher, you’re ready right now.

Filed under: Admin Bar, Features, Mobile, New Features, WordPress, WordPress.com
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Perspectives on Going Viral

You wake up one morning, check your phone, and spit out your coffee. You have thousands of likes on Facebook, hundreds of retweets, and an inbox that has exploded. Your little blog — which normally gets a dozen views per day and has an audience of exactly two, your spouse and mother — has been shared all over the internet, and that post you wrote last night, in your pajamas, has gone viral.

Going viral is different for everyone, but it can be a strange blend of exciting and terrifying — and very emotional, as writer Sam Dylan Finch described in his recent interview. Here, four bloggers on WordPress.com share their experiences.

Gretchen Kelly, Drifting Through My Open Mind

Gretchen KellyLast November, Gretchen Kelly published “The Thing All Women Do That You Don’t Know About,” in which she described all the tactics women employ to move safely through a world of sexism and harassment. Nearly two thousand comments and more than two million views later, the post continues to generate a lot of activity.

Can you pinpoint the spark that set it all off?

Twitter is where my post first started to get some traction. I knew something was going on when I started seeing retweets and comments from non-bloggers. Soon, my Twitter notifications were going crazy. People started asking to publish it in different languages, and the Huffington Post and Upworthy contacted me. It was circulating on Facebook, too, but I wasn’t as aware of that. I think it was shared initially because it resonated with so many women. Then, it was shared by people who were angered by it. There’s definitely a sweet and salty feel to going viral.

What is one thing you learned from the experience?

I don’t know if anything can prepare you for the turbulence of going viral. I learned that I’m not as thick-skinned as I’d like to think. I received so many positive, touching messages from both men and women. But the negative, hateful comments? Those were tough to take. At times I let them get to me and affect my mood. Eventually, I had to turn off notifications on my phone and take a break from it all.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

I don’t think I would do anything differently. I almost scrapped the post right before publishing it. I was filled with doubt, worried that no one would get what I was trying to say. But I published it and hoped for the best. I try not to question or overanalyze anything when it comes to my writing or blogging. It’s a struggle because I think generally, writers are an over thinking, self-doubting bunch. But I also know that overthinking can be the death of creativity. I try hard to just go with it and let things happen. So, no. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Has blogging been a challenge since this viral post?

My desire to blog hasn’t waned. What was a challenge was deciding what to write next. I am not a niche blogger, and I don’t want to be pigeonholed. I sometimes write about feminism, but I also write about grief, about my life, about love. Would I lose new followers or let them down? Would people pick it apart like some did with the viral post? Eventually, I just wrote what was on my mind at the time. I’m still working on that not-overthinking thing!

Matthew Fray, Must Be This Tall to Ride

Matthew FrayLast month, Matthew published “She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink.” Before he knew it, the post had gone viral — no promotion needed on his part. Since then, he’s been experiencing the aftermath of the experience, which he reflected on in “Of Course It Was About More Than Dirty Dishes.”

Can you pinpoint the spark that set it all off?

Kind of. I work in digital marketing, so checking web traffic and content performance is part of what I do. I published the post on January 14th. It was viewed 263 times that day.

This is how the post performed afterward:

Matthew-Fray-Stats-Chart

Matthew’s post views from January 15-28, 2016.

Views are slowly returning to whatever my blog’s new normal will be.

It was nothing more than some readers sharing it on Facebook, then their friends sharing it on Facebook, and then their friends doing the same.

What is one thing you learned from the experience?

I learned that blogging CAN make a tangible difference in people’s lives. A silly post about a dish by the sink — the deeper meaning was sadly lost on many readers — sparked countless conversations about marriage online and among couples. Some people said their relationships will never be the same. In a good way.

One thing I learned about myself is that everyone will not like or agree with me, and I need to be able to live with that. I didn’t like having so many people who didn’t know me make judgments about my marriage and my beliefs based on one post that most didn’t seem to read all the way nor understand. Moving forward, thicker skin will be required.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

There are sentences in the post which made sense to me and regular readers because we have context, but to millions of strangers, some thoughts were understandably misinterpreted. Had I known so many strangers would read it, I’d have exercised more thoughtful and prudent word choices. But, big picture? This got people talking about marriage in meaningful ways. I’m proud of that. In that respect, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Has blogging been a challenge since this viral post?

In my two-and-a-half years of blogging on WordPress.com, people have mostly been exceedingly kind when leaving comments. Opening the floodgates to a larger cross-section of humanity introduced me to criticism and some less-than-pleasant insults in a way I had never experienced.

Sometimes people (or maybe it’s just me) have a unique capacity to ignore the ninety percent saying nice things, and hone in on the ten percent who aren’t. I didn’t always handle that with grace and professionalism. Learning to accept that not everyone will agree with me, like me, or understand me will be my biggest challenge moving forward.

Lisa Durant, Can Anybody Hear Me?

Lisa DurantIn April 2015, Lisa wrote “The ‘After’ Myth,” a post about losing weight, yet failing to discover and truly love herself. A year on, the piece continues to resonate with readers.

Can you pinpoint the spark that set it all off?

Although I can’t be entirely sure, I think a photo made my post go viral. Since my post was about my weight loss journey (or, as I prefer to put it, my life gain journey), it included a before and after photo of my physical transformation. While I understand that a dramatic high-impact photo makes for good clickbait, in this scenario, it’s kind of ironic. That post (and my entire blog, really) are meant to take attention away from the physical and focus more on the mental and emotional challenges of major weight loss.

What is one thing you learned from the experience?

I was surprised at how many people were surprised by my willingness to talk openly about personal topics. I also felt a bit of fear over being so visible. I’ve always been an open book, but I’ve never had so many readers paging through. I learned that people are a lot kinder than I ever knew. I was shocked at how few negative and critical responses I received and overwhelmed by the support I found.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

I could have capitalized on it. I could have ridden the wave of being visible and used it to gain even more exposure. I could have grown my blog, sold ads, and tried to turn it into a career as many others have. But I purposely chose not to, and I don’t regret that choice. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed briefly writing for other publications as a result, but I also chose to retreat and let the viral post run its course. I suppose that’s one other thing I learned about myself: I don’t want to be famous; I just want to write.

Has blogging been a challenge since this viral post?

At first, going viral made me second guess everything I sat down to write. I worried that whatever I posted next would never be as good. I also became much more aware of how many people could potentially see the sometimes very personal things that I tend to bring up in my posts. But then, I realized that these fears were exactly the right thing to write about next, and so I did. And, I made a decision and a statement: I couldn’t promise that every post would be viral-worthy or even interesting to anyone else, but I could promise to be honest. I decided that I would continue to do what I’d been doing for years: write for me, not for an audience.

Corinne Rogero, Duly Noted

Corinne Rogero“I Should Be Engaged,” Corinne Rogero’s quiet musings on being more mindful in the moment and creating meaningful connections, made lots of noise in January as well. Ten days after, she beautifully reflected on the experience that turned her world upside down.

Can you pinpoint the spark that set it all off?

I think a lot of millennials are bombarded with the notion that engagement and marriage are the keys to happiness. So the word “engaged” in my post’s title perhaps drew people’s attention, and I’m sure some readers hoped to hear a valid reason for why they deserved to be engaged in the marital sense as well.

What is one thing you learned from the experience?

There is greater power in sharing stories and exchanging words than perhaps we’ll ever fully realize. And I think because our words hold such weight — whether we realize it or not — they deserve to be shared in ways that connect with other souls and land somewhere deeper than mere surface level.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

I don’t think many people expect their post to go viral when their cursor hovers over the “Publish” button, and because my experience was just as unexpected, I don’t think it could have taken place any other way. I was writing just to write, and it just so happened to be read around the world.

Has blogging been a challenge since this viral post?

Immediately after my post crossed the 1,000,000 mark, I felt pressure to publish posts of the same caliber — that anything under a million views meant it wasn’t a good post. And the same expectation carried over into other social media platforms where I’d gained hundreds of followers because of my post. Suddenly, each Instagram photo or tweet had to be perfectly clever and professionally delivered. But I’m reminded that whether a post receives one or one million views, those one or one million people are exactly those who need to read it. Playing the comparison game in writing will only stifle your voice and suffocate your story.

Looking for something to read? Explore the latest picks from our editors at Discover.

Filed under: Community, WordPress.com, Writing
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Field Notes: The Codex Hackathon 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, I share my experience at the Codex Hackathon.

We’re big fans of publishing here at WordPress.com. From fantastic content created by our blogging community and news from our WordPress.com VIP partners, to longform articles on Longreads, we love helping publish the best content on the internet.

In that spirit, Automattic sponsored the Codex Hackathon last month. The event brought together over 160 people who are passionate about reading to the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA. Librarians, writers, editors, programmers, and designers came from all across the globe to collaborate on small weekend-long projects to visualize the future of reading. Mel Choyce, Kelly Dwan, Kat Hagan, and I attended from Automattic, and we were eager to meet and collaborate with the like-minded crowd. It’s not often that such a diverse group has the opportunity to drop everything and come together around something they love.

Photo by Elisa Mala

Photo by Elisa Mala

The weekend kicked off with a series of short presentations on Saturday morning. Attendees learned about tools (like the WordPress.com API!) and saw examples of publishing challenges for inspiration. Those of us who came with pre-imagined project ideas shared them with the group, and those who didn’t could either join a team, or participate in a brainstorming exercise. The attendees mingled and shared ideas, and project teams started forming.

I joined a team, while Mel, Kelly, and Kat pitched in with design and development help across many different projects. The rest of Saturday was spent meeting new people, brainstorming, sketching, designing, and writing code. Our Codex hosts kept us well-fed throughout, and the atmosphere was exciting and inspiring. Teams worked well into the evening on Saturday, and were up bright and early on Sunday to polish our projects.

The Codex Hackathon, Group Photo

Photo by Elisa Mala

The event culminated in a set of short presentations from each team. It was thrilling to see the different ideas people worked on. Due to the incredibly short weekend timeline, many projects were still in the conceptual phase, but we were treated to quite a few application demos as well. You can check out the full list of projects at the Codex Hackathon 2016 projects page. Some of my personal favorites:

  • Stanza: A tool to deliver a playlist of poems tied to a person’s mood and emotion.
  • LitCity: Literary context, delivered into the real world through location-based phone notifications.
  • Cover Design History: The beginnings of a website dedicated to book cover design.
  • HippoReader: A tool for programmatically simplifying the language in a given text, to make it readable even by those with a elementary English language skills.
  • ReadMember: A web-browser extension to help you keep track of the things you read online.

We all had a blast at the event, and thoroughly enjoyed working with everyone. The Codex Hackathon left us inspired to keep building ways for you to publish your own great content here at WordPress.com and beyond.

Check out the Codex Hackathon website to keep up to date on more Codex events, and read through our getting started guide if you’d like to start building something cool with the WordPress.com API.

If building publishing tools for a more democratic web sounds like your idea of fun, we’re hiring!

Filed under: Admin Bar, Community, Events
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New Theme: Revelar

On this Theme Thursday, I’m happy to present a brand new free theme for your enjoyment.

Revelar

Revelar WordPress Theme

Designed by Automattic’s own Filipe Varela, Revelar is a single-column blogging theme with a fresh, modern look. Designed to showcase your gorgeous photography and complement your writing, it’s a perfect choice for photographers, travelers, and authors. With support for large featured images, multiple post formats, and footer widget areas for additional content, Revelar gives your posts plenty of room to shine.

Find out more about Revelar on the Theme Showcase!

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Customizing Twenty Sixteen: Four Takes on Our Annual Theme

Every year we release an annual flagship theme as a blank canvas for bloggers, artists, professionals, and business owners. This year’s creation, Twenty Sixteen, is a gorgeous theme that celebrates a classic WordPress layout yet injects it with new energy and precise, minimalist flare.

Twenty Sixteen‘s customization options allow it to support any type of site — from a traditional blog to a professional web page. Here are four sites that caught our eye.

Shakespeare Confidential

shakespeare confidential twenty sixteen
Some of you might know blogger John Kelly from his superb etymology blog, mashed radish. John has embarked on a new adventure this month. Since 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, he intends to read the Bard’s entire corpus of plays and poetry by year’s end, and chronicle the journey on his blog.

He chose Twenty Sixteen for this project, and the theme’s crisp typography and nods to print culture work perfectly with his topic — check out the neat post intro which gives readers a hint of the post’s content (see screenshot above: “In 2016, it’s not the shrew that’s the problem. It’s the taming.”), or the magazine-like pull quotes (below).

A few other well-chosen elements, like a clean serif font (Libre Baskerville) and a custom header image based on a famous Shakespeare etching, come together to create an unobtrusive but memorable look.

YINKABOKINNI

YINKABOKINNI twenty sixteen

A pop of color, a punchy tagline, strategically positioned social icons: with just a few brushstrokes, D.J. and radio presenter Yinka Bokinni has crafted a homepage full of personality.

Yinka, a UK-based music and fashion lover, hosts a morning show at London’s Rinse FM, and you sense something of that early-morning, big-city vibe in the site’s design, from the shocking pink custom background to the slender sans-serif fonts she uses (like Droid Sans Mono in the site’s title).

Yinka has opted for a static front page, but the site’s other sections — her blog and contact info, for example — along with her other social profiles are all one click away thanks to the well-placed custom menu and Social Media Icons Widget.

Lucão

lucao twenty sixteen

Even if you don’t read Portuguese, Brazilian poet Lucão’s blog is a hymn to the virtues of minimalism — in writing as well as in design.

lucao detail

Lucão — real name Lucas Brandão — has cultivated a huge audience on social media, with more than 300,000 followers on Instagram alone. His blog — where he gathers all his handwritten, aphorism-length poems — is a comfortable hub where readers can explore his deep archives (he’s been publishing here for almost a decade). The black-and-white aesthetic of the poems work especially well against the backdrop of Twenty Sixteen, whose clean lines and focus on readability let the words speak for themselves.

Three Hour Brunch Friend

three hour brunch friend

In our book, any food blog with “brunch” in its name is already ahead of the curve; Patricia, a Toronto, Canada-based food blogger went a few steps further and used Twenty Sixteen to create an inviting, bright space for her recipes.

three hour brunch friend detail

Patricia’s blog demonstrates how the theme’s out-of-the-box look, including its default font and white background, are the perfect foundation for lovely photos and fun food writing. She’s added a handful of widgets — an Image Widget to introduce herself, a Categories Widget for easy navigation, an Instagram Widget for even more eye candy — and let the theme (and a winning custom header image featuring bacon) take care of the rest. We particularly liked how her wider images overhang the text (see the screenshot to the left), one of Twenty Sixteen‘s signature touches.

Have you added your own tweaks to Twenty Sixteen? Have you seen other beautiful customizations of the theme? Let us know in the comments.

Filed under: Customization, Design, Themes, WordPress.com
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New Themes: Escutcheon and Orvis

Happy Theme Thursday, everyone! Today we have two new free themes for your perusal.

Escutcheon

Escutcheon WordPress Theme

Escutcheon, designed by Automattic’s own Mel Choyce, boasts a smoky color palette and bold typography. It’s a striking theme for writers who want to stand out, with a front page that gives just enough information to entice your readers. Individual posts and pages are stylish and easy to read.

Find out more about Escutcheon on the Theme Showcase, or activate it on your site.

Escutcheon Responsive WordPress Theme

Orvis

Orvis: Portfolio Page Template

Orvis, designed by Thomas Guillot, is the perfect companion for all photographers and designers. It is a minimalist, vibrant, and flexible theme, whose bold grid design keeps the spotlight on your projects, and scales to fit any screen size. Orvis also lets you share your thoughts and engage in a conversation with your visitors through the blog, which shares the same minimal look.

Orvis: Responsive Design

Check out Orvis on the Theme Showcase, or activate it on your site.

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“Discover” Great Features You Might Have Missed

Late in 2015, we launched Discover — a site to showcase the people who use WordPress and the amazing things they make and do. There, we publish editors’ picks from across the WordPress landscape as well as in-depth features on WordPressers making a splash in the world. Here are five thought-provoking features you might have missed.

Anne Thériault: one gutsy feminist

Image: "Fight" by seven_resist, (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Image: “Fight” by seven_resist, (CC BY-SA 2.0).

You may already know Anne from her incisive blog, The Belle Jar, where she writes candidly of her experiences as a woman and a mother. In “Too Loud, Too Outspoken, Too Feminist: Anne Thériault Writes Her Truth,” Anne talks about learning from her mistakes, protecting her family’s privacy and safety, and handling trolls. She has great advice for women bloggers who may shy away from sharing their true thoughts online.

If I had to give advice to a woman who wanted to write but thought no one would care, I would tell her that reading stuff by other women has been so incredibly validating and affirming and enlightening. Hey women! Please keep writing! And if you’re thinking about writing, please do it! You are a treasure and your thoughts are interesting and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

— Anne Thériault

Curiosity meets camera: on the passions of Cameron Karsten

Photo by Cameron Karsten.

Photo by Cameron Karsten.

Cameron Karsten is a visual storyteller. Armed with his camera and innate curiosity, he travels the world to document people, customs, and raise awareness of environmental causes. In
“Stories of the World: A Q&A with Photographer Cameron Karsten,” Cameron shares his passion for the people, places, and causes he photographs:

I look forward to photographing people when I pick up a camera. I approach a person not as a subject but as a person who has needs and wants, a history of joys and sorrows, of gains and losses. I’ve never connected with the industry’s idea of using a camera to hide behind a lens as if to separate myself from the rest of the world. People aren’t subjects to me. Inanimate objects are what I call a subject. I first try to relate to and connect with a person by just being myself. Taking the photograph comes later.

— Cameron Karsten

Lori Duron blogs through fear and finds her community

Photo courtesy of Lori Duron.

Photo courtesy of Lori Duron.

When Lori Duron started to blog about the questions, fears, and challenges of raising C.J., her gender non-conforming son, she — like many of us — had no idea what she was doing. In “Raising a Rainbow: An Interview with Author Lori Duron,” Lori talks about why she writes about her parenting journey and the overwhelming support she’s received from the world community.

I received emails from parents who were struggling with the gender identity of their child; they felt alone and helpless like I once did. I tried to help them the best that I could. I have readers in more than 190 countries. There are little gender-nonconforming boys in Ireland, the Philippines, Iran, all around the world. And, their parents need help.

— Lori Duron

An exercise in process: 365 projects across WordPress

In addition to personal profiles and interviews, Discover features roundups highlighting the things people create with WordPress. “365 Days, 52 Weeks: Bloggers on Posting Daily or Weekly in 2015” profiles a handful of bloggers who participated in a 365-day or 52-week project and posted their sketches, stories, and essays online.

I write because Writing is a box under the category Creativity under the list Happiness that I have the luxury of checking off every morning. For nearly six years, I committed to writing and posting daily because on the days I didn’t write, I felt an itch of discontentment, and sooner or later, I realized it was because I hadn’t created something.

— Yi-Ching Lin

Danny Gregory on making creativity a habit

Danny Gregory -- self portrait.

Danny Gregory — self portrait.

Ever wanted to learn to draw, but felt you lacked that special talent? Danny Gregory will be the first to tell you that anyone can learn to draw with practice. In “Making Creativity a Habit: An Interview with Danny Gregory,” the prolific author and Sketchbook Skool co-founder shares the best advice he’s received on establishing a creative habit and his advice on sticking with your drawing dream.

My advice: keep making and stop critiquing. And think about how what you are doing matters to the world in some way, how your creativity solves problems or brings joy. Get out of your head and your own concerns and see how you can make a difference with your art. It’s just a drawing, you say? Well, what if drawing something can bring you peace? Or give you an insight you can share? What if that drawing stimulates your imagination so you can solve a problem that’s been vexing your family or your coworkers? What if that drawing is a way of honoring yourself, of investing in yourself, in freeing yourself…

— Danny Gregory

Don’t miss out on inspiration — be sure to follow Discover in your Reader and check out editors’ picks and features.

Filed under: Community, Discover
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New Theme: Toujours

Special milestones deserve special websites. This Theme Thursday, we’re introducing a fresh take on our classic wedding theme.

Toujours

toujours-news-post

Toujours — a refresh of our popular Forever theme — has a simple, elegant design that’s perfect for planning and sharing moments from your wedding. The theme includes a large slideshow, a unique layout for recent posts, and a special Guestbook template. The theme’s subtle color palette and large featured images will help your words and photographs shine.

toujours-responsive-trio

Add a map to your venue, collect RSVPs, or create a page with pictures from your wedding Instagram hashtag: with its responsive design, Toujours looks good on any screen, big or small.

Find out more about Toujours on the Theme Showcase!

Filed under: Themes
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Three Ways to Refresh Your Website in 2016

The new year is a great time to hit refresh and set new goals. If your website looks and feels a little stale, now is the time to make a change! Here are three quick ways to freshen up your personal or business website:

Take Inventory

Is your content still accurate? Do you need to update your photos? Are the important links working? Take a step back to think about your site’s purpose and audience. Have your personal or business goals changed since you launched it? Make a list of what needs to be fixed and set a timeline to get it done. Take a look at your most popular posts to know what’s working and target those posts and pages first.

In 2012, three friends — Jeri, Erin, and Allysa — founded a full-service event and styling company, bon évé Events. After refocusing their company’s priorities and goals, they recently relaunched their website. Their rebrand includes a new name (My Simple Soirée), a logo, and WordPress.com website.

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 11.31.25 AM.png

Refocusing our business meant an extensive rebrand and rename. This can be challenging for a small business as your brand and name are your lifeline. WordPress.com made it easy to implement the changes we needed for social media first impression.

— My Simple Soirée

Evaluate your website in light of your objectives and make the most of what WordPress.com has to offer, from uploading a new site logo or custom header image to exploring our Premium and Business plans to unlock more space for media, design customization, and eCommerce integration. 

Boost Your Brand

Every website can benefit from custom branding, from hobby blogs to eCommerce websites. Create a cohesive brand experience by aligning all the elements that identify and set your website apart: domain name, website name, and logo. 

Adding a logo to your website is an achievable first step to branding your site. In your menu, click on Customize to launch your Customizer, and click on Site Title, Tagline, and Logo. Here, you can upload a new image or select one from your Media Library.

site-logo-initial-9-4-15

Click the Save & Publish button at the top right of the Customizer to activate your new logo.

In a few clicks, you can take your website to the next level with a custom logo. (And if you switch to and from any logo-supported theme, your logo will still be there!)

Textile artist Krista blogs at Looming Jane. She has a custom logo at the top of her website — a stylish cursive display of her brand and shop name. While each theme’s default fonts are carefully selected, you can transform the look of a theme by swapping out the Header Text with your own designs.

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Add Fresh Content

The best way to have a vibrant and active website is to publish new content regularly. If you feel stuck, look to Automattician Andrea Badgley, who has developed a great strategy to help you meet your blogging goals this year.

In her post Publish in 10 Minutes Per Dayshe shares her secret sauce for blogging regularly. It has two ingredients: carve out 10 minutes per day and keep topics on hand.

Giving yourself meaningful topics to write about and then carving out the time to write will get you not only practicing, but will get you publishing again. It will make your blog active and will bring visitors to your site.

Andrea Badgley

Committing to a blogging schedule can be a challenge, so a New Year’s resolution is the perfect motivation to kickstart a new routine. Make your resolutions a reality by investing in your WordPress.com website.

Planning on Turning Your Website into a Lean Mean Marketing Machine?

Consider upgrading to WordPress.com Premium or Business to unlock features like advanced customization, more space for your photos and videos, and stellar customer support.

Our Premium and Business plans also include a custom domain and access to premium themes. Try it out for 30 days.

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Filed under: Customization, WordPress.com
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