Blog Views and Other Obsessions – What’s new?

Here’s a mishmash of my current blogging experiences:

In my last post about blogging, I announced that I was tentatively happy because my spam comment problem seemed to be resolved. You may remember that my blog had been inundated with spam and it was even spamming email accounts connected to blogs that follow me. That was horrible. To fix it, I turned off pingbacks and trackbacks and closed comments after 30 days. IT’S WORKING! What a relief. Now I don’t have to spend time deleting spam. If you are having problems with spam comments, I highly recommend you turn off pingbacks and trackbacks and close comments after 30 days.

Have you noticed that the fonts have changed in draft mode? It doesn’t affect the final post so not really a big deal, but you know…change.

How’s everyone doing with the block editor? Are you using all the features? Have you converted your old posts from the Classic format? I’m doing pretty well and don’t find it hard to use, but I don’t use nearly all the features. I do like using the “Resuable” blocks when I write a post, though, and forced myself to learn how to create them. It saves a lot of time. As for converting from the Classic format, I have had mixed results. I’m not on a mission to change them all, but if I’m linking to an old post, I like to update it.

Did you notice that the Reader layout is different? At first, I thought, “Whoa, WordPress, enough with the changes” but I actually think it’s an improvement. IMO it’s easier to get an idea about the post and honestly, everything looks more attractive.

Now here’s something that I wish would happen. When I link my blog to something else, I have to manually set the link to open in a new tab. I would love that to be a default setting. Does anyone else think about this?

That’s about it for me. What are some of your recent blogging observations? I hope you’re having a good Saturday!

Thanks for visiting—come back soon!

Blog Views and Other Obsessions – tentatively happy 🙂

Last week I wrote this post about the problems I’d been having with spam. Followers had been receiving a lot of spam emails, as replies to comments on my blog. I was horrified. What a bad way to promote your blog! The weird thing was that I did not receive notifications through my blog about the spam emails. I want to thank those who reached out to me to tell me about the problem because I never would have known!

The problem started back in March and I wrote another post about all the spam comments on my blog. Akismet was doing their job catching them and rerouting them to my spam folder but they had become a nuisance to delete because the comments were coming in fast and furious. A couple people told me that the spam folders emptied automatically, so I let it go for a bit. Not true for my free blog because next time I checked, I had about 35,000 spam comments and it took me a couple hours to delete them all.

I tried to stay upbeat about it and made this video making fun of the insulting comments (some were pretty amusing), but the volume of spam bothered me! I contacted the Happiness Engineers at WordPress and they suggested I change my password, enable two-step authentication and consider closing my comments. I did the first two (did not want to close comments!) and for a while, the spam was under control…until recently.

Back to the Happiness Engineers who directed me to my blog’s Discussion settings, but they did not tell me what to do. So I made some decisions on my own: I turned off pingbacks and trackbacks and reluctantly closed comments after 30 days.

Since then I’ve received ZERO spam comments on my blog. I have not heard from any of you about spam emails. I hope they have also stopped. Please let me know if you are still receiving them. If you are having the same problems on your blog, I strongly recommend turning off pingbacks and trackbacks.

Now I am finished talking about spam and will resume reading. I hope you are all having a nice September Saturday!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Club Mom’s Blog WOES and Other Obsessions

I’ve recently discovered that followers are receiving emails with spam comments replying to comments they made on my blog. Arrrrrggggghhh! As much as I hate to close comments, I’ve been forced to do it on a couple posts. I’ve notified WordPress and they replied with the suggestion that I tweak the discussion settings on my blog.

I made some changes, including closing comments after 30 days and will no longer allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks). This recent article made some good arguments for turning them off.

So I apologize if you are receiving these emails. What a nusiance for you! I hope you’ll be patient with me as I figure things out.

If you are receiving these emails please contact me at bvitelli2009@gmail.com and tell me which post so I can work to shut it down from my end.

Thanks for visiting and I hope you’ll come back soon!

Blog views and other obsessions – keep your blog secure!

Please forgive me! I promised I would not talk about my spam comments any more, but I have a few tips that might help other bloggers who are struggling with this same problem. A special shout-out to Hugh’s Views & News for offering moral support and tips. He’s an expert blogger and very willing to help so be sure to pay him a visit!

First of all, to clarify, these comments never make it into my comments. That would be a disaster! They go right to spam, but I can barely keep up with deleting my spam folder. Why do I bother? I let it go for a while, but I’m uncomfortable with all those questionable sites and links connected in any way to my blog. I just finished deleting 40,000 comments. It took me a week. I got 1200 more overnight so there was more work for me this morning!

Here are some tips that can help keep your blog secure:

  • First, reach out to WordPress. I got a response within an hour. The advice was pretty general. They didn’t address why I was getting so many spam comments, just steps to block spam. But it’s an open conversation, so I’ll continue to ask questions.
  • Change your password. Always good advice for all we do.
  • Change your settings so that you have to approve all comments. This could help my problem, but I’ll have to wait and see.
  • Activate Two-Step Authentication. This will give you an extra layer of security. You probably already do that with your online bank accounts. You can read how to do that here.

Some bloggers close comments after a certain period of time or don’t allow comments at all. I’ll never do that. I mean, comments are the heart of the blogging community!

So I hope these tips are helpful to you. Maybe you think these steps aren’t necessary because it’s just your personal blog, but I’m not going to take any chances.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Blog views and other obsessions: the slippery slope when you stop blogging for a few days, and longer

Anyone who’s been blogging for a while knows that it’s not only necessary, but good to take blogging breaks. Some people plan them. Other times, life off the blog demands attention. And sometimes you burn out. There’s a certain tension and urgency that crackles through the blogging world and all social media. That can be exciting when you’re up and you have time. I love connecting with other people. But the same things that are exciting can also be overwhelming if you never take a break. There’s also the feeling that if you stop engaging, people will stop visiting and reading your posts when you do come back, that they’ll forget about you. How fragile is the blogger’s ego!

If you follow my blog regularly, you know that I recently finished a long book. I felt driven to finish it in a reasonable period of time. I mean, that thing could have taken me more than a month to read! I tried to stay engaged on WordPress while I was reading it. And in the beginning, I felt a nagging pressure to do that, to read other blogs, comment, share, and think of content to post. Those are things I love to do, when I’m not busy. But something funny happens when you stay off the blog for a few days: priorities shift. I didn’t read nonstop. I can’t sit still in a chair for hours on end. But I spent more time doing the things I needed to do outside of WordPress. Plus I read and I just chilled…

Then I finished the book and guess what? I didn’t want to do anything for a few more days! And then I had to get back into writing a review. It all took time and I felt no desire to rush. Part of me considered the idea of stopping entirely. I’m not going to do that, but these feelings make me realize how important breaks are. I may just try to schedule a few during the year.

So the question is, do you plan your breaks or do they just happen? Do you plan your comebacks or do they just happen too? Have you felt the same tension and then lack of motivation over time? Leave a comment!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Blog views and other obsessions – generating a free QR code

Last week I learned how to generate free QR codes for work and it’s easy and kind of fun to do, so I thought I’d share what I learned here. First of all, do you know what QR means? I had never thought about it much, but it stands for Quick Response.

We’re going to use a QR code for print materials and I’m still figuring out how it would be useful in the digital world for bloggers versus just using a link, although the code definitely works online. This article from Wasp Barcode Technologies talks about using QR codes for print and something like that on Facebook, Snapchat and Spotify. For authors who use print materials, even a business card, it’s a simpler way to direct people to your work. Anyone with a phone can use the camera function that recognizes the codes and takes you directly to your site.

Paid versions let you track stats and customize your code even more. I think the free one I made looks pretty good and although I love tracking stats, I don’t think I would upgrade to be able to access them.

It’s a wild idea, but I’m thinking of having a t-shirt made with my blog’s QR code on the back!

Anyway, here’s the link to the QR code generator I used. It’s called QR Code Monkey.

And here’s the QR code I made for Book Club Mom. See? You can even upload your logo onto the code. Isn’t that fun?

Have you used QR codes for any of your work or for your blog? What types of things have you done? Leave a comment and let me know!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Blog views and other obsessions – Facebook pages and the news feed feature

One of the things I’ve found frustrating about Facebook pages is that the news feed feature disappeared one day without explanation and the pages I liked through my pages wound up on my personal news feed. That feed is now a mess. I barely look at it and never interact because it’s just too complicated to switch back and forth between my personal account and my pages.

I recently got a tip (thank you A!) that if you change your pages to business pages, you can access the news feed so I jumped on Facebook to check it out. At first, after I switched them to business pages, I had trouble seeing the news feed, then I found a hack that instructed me to add /news_feed to the URL. Voila! It was back, or so I thought. When I went through my feed, I only found posts from a few pages I liked, but most of the feed looked like paid posts.

I hopped over to my Books to Pen page, did the hack and got an official welcome to the Facebook News Feed. Yay! I followed the steps that prompted me to follow pages I’d already liked and off I went, tapping Follow for each. About halfway through, I was bounced out of Facebook and had to log back in. When I got back on the Books to Pen page, I had a new button for News Feed and a pretty healthy feed, although I have no idea if all the pages I like will actually show up, since I wasn’t able to follow all of them. The same thing happened for my dad’s page.

Sometimes I get the News Feed button…

Today I went on Facebook to look at my pages’ news feeds and the buttons were gone. So I typed in the hack and got a message that the link was broken. Boo!

…and sometimes I don’t.

Well I fiddled around, jumping back and forth between my pages and using the hack and I eventually got the news feed button back for two of my three pages and I can access the third feed if I add news_feed to the URL.

I don’t know. Does Facebook even like us? And do they want us to interact with other FB folks?

Have you tried accessing the news feed for your pages? Leave a comment below.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Blog views and other obsessions – two great tools for your blog

Like everyone else, despite the tough year we’ve all had, I learned a lot of new things in 2020. Today I’m sharing two great tools that are great for blogging.

Canva

You’ll feel like a graphic artist once you get familiar with how Canva works. It’s a graphic design platform with thousands of templates to use on your blog (like my new banner and this blog’s graphic) on social media and for other print items. The free version has loads of options. I had to learn how to use it for work and I’ve started using it more for my blog. What I like best about it is that the images you create are custom-sized for posts on a blog, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. so you don’t have to worry if you have the dimensions right. And I also like how they suggest color schemes based on any images you upload. Really great!


Linktree

I learned about Linktree from my boss. You know how on Instagram you can only have one link in your profile and that any URLs you include in a post are not actually linked to anything? And on Twitter, even though you can include live links in your tweets, you can only have one link in your bio. Kind of frustrating. Well Linktree lets you put all your links in on one link – it’s clean and easy and the free version is all that I need. Thanks, Boss!

I hope these are helpful tips for you, too. What new things did you learn this year about blogging and social media?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Blog views and other obsessions – the block editor

After a lot of talk and several blog posts about the new block editor, I finally made the switch. That’s why my blog looks a little different. I have to say, I mostly like it, but I’ve been frustrated about a couple things. I figured one out, but I’m pretty sure there’s no way to do the second one.

Shortlinks

Anyone have trouble finding where they are? After clicking around and around I finally looked it up and discovered it’s easy:

In Edit Post, click on the greet Jetpack icon located in the upper right of your screen. The Shortlink is about half-way down the vertical scroll sidebar. Problem solved!

Look for this icon.

Wrapping text around images

This has really puzzled me. That was one of the features in Classic Editor I used a lot. There’s a block called Media and Text that lets you put text next to an image, but it doesn’t wrap when the text runs below the image. Here’s what happens:

Here’s a nice image of a Thanksgiving turkey that I downloaded from Pexels. I used the Media and Text block. I selected Normal size font and you can see that once the text block becomes longer than the image, it doesn’t wrap around it.

Has anyone else run into this problem? How would you fix it? I’ve tried looking it up and after about twenty minutes, I gave up. I’m wondering if I care enough to figure it out or if I should just adapt to the new way of doing things. I guess you could end your text block just as it reaches the end of the image…

In general, I like the block editor and I really like the star rating block. That comes in really handy and I like how you can use the half stars.

What has your experience been? Leave a comment below and thanks for visiting!

Blog views and other obsessions – random thoughts

Hi Everyone! Today I’m sharing some random thoughts about blogging.

The blogging world is constantly evolving, whether we like it or not. Technology has changed dramatically since I started my blog seven years ago. I’ve always been interested in how things connect and for me, blogging and connecting though other social media is fun, but time and patience have their limits, don’t they?

I’m not dreading the new WordPress editor. I’ve already used it on my new blog, Books to Pen, but I’m in no hurry to convert Book Club Mom.

My blog has grown slowly, but steadily over the years and my focus has changed during this time. I’d like to have unlimited content ideas, but I don’t! That used to bother me, but now I don’t worry about it and wait for an idea to come to me.

I have a good idea for a new YouTube video, so stay tuned for that.

As for growing a blog – I wish WordPress would make it easier to follow and be followed. Even when I search for blogs and get a list, it’s still cumbersome. And it would be nice to see what blogs my favorite bloggers follow. Twitter has it all figured out in that department IMO.

I see a lot of swishy new blogs out there and I’m always looking for ways to update my look. I like my basic blog design but I’ve recently changed some of my banners. Last year I tried displaying book covers in more creative ways, but I moved away from that. I like the creative displays, but doing them myself felt like a force.

I’m getting ready to start an Instagram account. I resisted at first, but now I’m ready.

What’s new with your blog?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!