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August in Blogging U: Blogging 101 28 Jul 2015, 9:00 am
Have you just started blogging (welcome!), or are you looking to breathe new life into a blogging habit that’s fallen by the wayside? Blogging U. is a great way to get on track, with bite-size assignments, a supportive community, and staff to support you. This August, we’re offering Blogging 101— and registration is now open!
Blogging 101: Zero to Hero — August 3 – 21
Blogging 101 is three weeks of bite-size blogging assignments that take you from “Blog?” to “Blog!” Every weekday, you’ll get a new assignment to help you publish a post, customize your blog, or engage with the community.
You’ll walk away with a stronger focus for your blog, several published posts and a handful of drafts, a theme that reflects your personality, a small (but growing!) audience, a grasp of blogging etiquette — and a bunch of new friends.
I have fallen in love with blogging all over again. It’s been wonderful. I am learning so much, and my blog is looking better than ever.
How do Blogging U. courses work?
Blogging U. courses exist for one reason: to help you meet your own blogging and writing goals.
- Courses are free, flexible, and open to all.
- You’ll get a new task to complete each day, along with our best advice and favorite resources. Do them on your own time, and interpret them however makes sense for your specific blog and personal goals — we’re not grading you, we’re not checking to make sure you complete every task, and there’s no “wrong” way to use the resources we give you.
- We’ll send you a new assignment via email each weekday at midnight GMT. Weekends are free.
- Each course will have a private community site, the Commons, for chatting, connecting, and seeking feedback and support. Daily Post staff and Happiness Engineers will be on hand to answer your questions and offer guidance and resources.
Ready to register?
Just fill out this short form! There’s no automated
confirmation; you’ll receive a welcome email just prior to the
start of your course. If you’re on a mobile device or reading this
via email and don’t see the form, you can register with this link.
Filed under: Better Blogging, Community
New Themes: Libretto, Lovecraft, and Publication 23 Jul 2015, 9:00 am
Happy Theme Thursday! Today we’re introducing three new free themes to our collection: Libretto, Lovecraft, and Publication.
Featuring big, bold drop caps and oversized images, Libretto is ideal for showcasing longform writing or stunning imagery. Its classic design and typographic details will give your blog a sophisticated, elegant look. Fully responsive, the theme adapts easily to tablets and other mobile devices, ensuring that your content is easy to see.
Get to know Libretto in the Theme Showcase, or give it a spin by activating it from Appearance → Themes.
Lovecraft, by Anders Norén, is a fashionable solution for your personal blog or website. Prominent custom headers and featured images give your visuals a bold presence, three footer widget areas offer plenty of space for secondary information, and striking typography and attention to detail makes your content the star.
Check out Lovecraft in the Theme Showcase, or activate it from Appearance → Themes.
Meet Publication, an elegant blog and magazine theme that features full-screen Featured Images, crafted by Automattic’s own Thomas Guillot. It’s perfect for sites about fashion, food, travel, or design. With balanced typography, colors, and attention to detail, Publication helps you create visually stunning posts.
Learn more about Publication at the Theme Showcase, or set it up by going to Appearance → Themes.
Filed under: Themes
Four Food Blogs to Follow Now 15 Jul 2015, 9:00 am
From sweet to savory, these four fantastic food blogs will satisfy your appetite. If you enjoy eating (and who doesn’t?!), check them out and follow them in your Reader so you won’t miss a dish.
The Dinner Party Collective is a collaborative blog dedicated to “reinvigorating the delicious lost art of dinner parties.” The DPC features seasonal full-course menus, photos, and recipes from apéritifs to dessert (complete with wine pairings, no less!) ideal for dinner groups of six to eight. Blogger Margot leads an international troupe of food and wine lovers who contribute recipes and knowledge to each menu’s selections.
The Winter Menu, Southern Hemisphere, June 2015 by The Dinner Party Collective
Vasun is the blogger behind Cupcakes and Curries. Based in Singapore, she cites her grandmother as her culinary inspiration. Vasun’s posts combine detailed recipes, enticing photography, and advice on how to make each recipe your own. We came for the Pepper Chicken Masala but stayed for the Thai-Style Minced Meat Pasta. Be sure to check out Vasun’s recipe list.
Thai-Style Minced Meat Pasta by Vasun
If you’re in the mood for dessert, visit Jane’s Pastisserie. Jane, a chef on the South Coast of the United Kingdom, loves to experiment in the kitchen and hopes to own her own bakery/tea room. Jane’s baked goodies look so yummy you could lose yourself for hours drooling over her recipe list. For starters, check out the Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart, the Easter Nest Cupcakes, and the Classic Buttery Scones.
Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart by Jane
Pia Dirks has always loved to draw food, including the cans and containers for basic ingredients. Draw and Bake is a fun mashup joining Pia’s love for baking and drawing. Here you’ll find fun, colorful, illustrated recipes for everything from Muesli Mounds to Za’atar Carrot Salad.
Muesli Mounds by Pia Dirks
Which food blogs do you visit for inspiration and cooking courage? Share your favorites with us in the comments.
Filed under: Community
Reader Refresh 13 Jul 2015, 10:19 am
Today, we’re proud to present an improved version of the WordPress.com Reader. We’ve made the Reader faster, with shorter load times and smoother scrolling. We’ve also improved the way we display posts, so you can now see the highlights of each story at a glance.
The new interface works just as well on a mobile device as it does on your computer, so it’s simpler and faster for you to catch up on blogs while on the go.
Keeping track of recent posts from the blogs and sites you follow is now both easier and more fun. Our new cards — which preview each post’s content — highlight great photography and make it easy to scan for something that looks interesting. New typography has improved readability, while the new Full Post View pushes the interface to the background, allowing you to focus on the story, whether it’s composed of text, pictures, or video (or any combination of these).
All these improvements work for nearly any site on the web, not just those hosted on WordPress.com: if it has an RSS feed, you can follow it. If the site happens to be a WordPress.com site, though, just look for the Follow button at the bottom of the page — click it, and you’re done.
We hope you enjoy the improved Reader!
Please note: these changes currently affect the web Reader only; we’re working on bringing these improvements to our iOS and Android apps soon.
Filed under: Features, Reading, WordPress.com
Heading to BlogHer ’15? So are we! 13 Jul 2015, 9:00 am
Note: we’ve just updated the workshop times slightly — see below for the final schedule.
BlogHer ’15, one of the biggest and best annual conferences for bloggers, lands in New York City later this week, from July 16th through the 18th. You’ll find hundreds of passionate bloggers, workshops to hone every aspect of your blogging, incredible keynote speakers like Ava DuVernay and Gwyneth Paltrow — and us!
At our Happiness Lounge in the expo hall, you’ll be able to get one-on-one help with your WordPress sites. Staff from across Automattic will also be leading mini-workshops on some of the topics you care most about, and our “WordPress Insiders” panels bring multiple WordPress.com staffers together for informal panels to give you a range of takes on everything from tools to traffic.
Interested? Here’s the complete schedule:
Friday, July 17
- 10:30 AM: WordPress Insiders: Our Favorite Dashboard Tools
- 11:30 AM: Express Yourself: Quick Tips for Customizing Your Site
- 12:30 PM: Make Connections: Using Jetpack to Share Your Content
- 2:00 PM: WordPress Insiders: Our Favorite Traffic-Boosting Tips
- 3:00 PM: Fight for Your (Copy)right: Intellectual Property Basics
- 4:00 PM: Making Blogging a Habit
Saturday, July 18
- 10:30 AM: Lock Down: Securing Your Site with Jetpack
- 11:30 AM: WordPress Insiders: Our Blogging Quirks
- 2:00 PM: Your Site, Your Brand: Social Media and Beyond
- 3:00 PM: If You Publish, They Will Come: Traffic and Growth Basics
- 4:00 PM: The Hidden Gems of WordPress.com
You’ll find us at booth 1108, just inside the entrance to Hall One. Stop by — we’d love to chat WordPress or blogging, or just say hi and shower you with swag!
If you can’t be there, you can always follow the fun on Twitter with #BlogHer15 — we’ll also be tweeting with the #WPlovesBlogHer hashtag.
Filed under: Community, Events
New Themes: Baskerville and Edda 9 Jul 2015, 10:12 am
Happy Theme Thursday! Today I’m excited to introduce two new free themes to our collection.
Baskerville was designed by Anders Norén, and it displays writing, photos, and videos in a dynamic, grid-based layout. It features unique layouts for different post formats, to make different kinds of content pop. Baskerville’s design adapts to any screen size, big or small, so your posts always look their best.
Get to know Baskerville on the Theme Showcase, or give it a spin by activating it from Appearance → Themes.
Edda, designed by Mel Choyce, is flexible enough to be used as a photoblog, personal journal, or tumblelog. The theme’s sepia-toned images and stylish color give your content an elegant, vintage look and feel.
Check out Edda on the Theme Showcase, or try it out on your blog by activating it from Appearance → Themes.
Filed under: Themes
Our World Through a Lens: Photography Blogs to Follow Now 8 Jul 2015, 8:00 am
Some of the best photographers and professional photo organizations maintain their homes on WordPress.com. See the world through their eyes.
Paul Zizka at Paul Zizka Photography
Paul Zizka is a professional mountain landscape and adventure photographer based in Banff, Alberta. His photographs celebrate the power and beauty of the outdoors, from the sprawling backcountry of Canada to hard-to-access locations in the wilderness. His night landscapes are spectacular.
Susan Portnoy at The Insatiable Traveler
Travel photographer Susan Portnoy focuses on wildlife and indigenous cultures and contributes to various outlets, including Yahoo Travel. She’s based in New York, but as her readers know, she’s usually off exploring a faraway destination. Her recent photo essays from Namibia on her blog, The Insatiable Traveler, are worth a peek.
Himba toddlers in their village near Serra Cafema Camp, Namibia.
AP Images Spotlight shares standout photographs from the Associated Press’ massive collection of images taken from every corner of the world. Browse the Photos of the Day category, which curates timely images from AP photographers across the globe, or enjoy more in-depth photo essays on anything from graffiti in Athens commenting on Greece’s economic crisis to refugees fleeing Burundi to escape ongoing violence.
Aaron Joel Santos at From Swerve of Shore
Aaron Joel Santos is an editorial and documentary photographer who shoots for publications like the New York Times and TIME and covers a wide range of subjects, from landscapes and portraits to fashion and weddings. You’ll get a taste of his sophisticated yet edgy style on his personal blog, From Swerve of Shore. Over the years, he’s wowed us with his images of Southeast Asia — especially Hanoi, Vietnam — and we always look forward to what’s next.
A farmer burning off crop residue in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Various photographs from Hanoi, Vietnam.
Stephanie Dandan at Infinite Satori
We’ve highlighted Stephanie Dandan at Infinite Satori before, but she’s continued to inspire us with her adventures in the Philippines, Cambodia, and currently Australia. She captures the fleeting and serendipitous moments of travel, where at times it feels like you’re awake in a dream.
Hot air balloons in Bagan, Myanmar.
Swimming hole and waterfall in Cambodia.
Managed by Fujifilm UK’s digital camera team, the Fujifilm Blog publishes tutorials (from understanding depth of field to the Rule of Thirds), spotlights on Fujifilm X-Photographers around the world, and guest features offering glimpses into photographers’ creative processes.
David Feuillatre at David with a Movie Camera
After spending years working on visual effects in the film industry, filmmaker and photographer David Feuillatre decided to leave Vancouver, British Columbia, to travel the world, meet new people, and tell their stories. On his blog, David with a Movie Camera, he publishes videos of his encounters along the way, and posts images of vibrant scenes and portraits. Under the Countries tab in his menu, you’ll find photographs by location — Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and India.
The blog of Flickr features the best from the online photo management and sharing site, from curated collections (flags around the world) to photographer features (Canadian photographer Erik Peterson in Tashkent, Uzbekistan). The community-fostering weekly themes (Flickr Friday, Twitter Tuesday) make you want to grab your camera and get shooting.
Filed under: Community, WordPress.com
New Theme: Libre 2 Jul 2015, 10:00 am
Happy Theme Thursday, all! Today I’m happy to introduce Libre, a new free theme designed by yours truly.
Libre brings a stylish, classic look to your personal blog or longform writing site. The main navigation bar stays fixed to the top while your visitors read, keeping your most important content at hand. At the bottom of your site, three footer widget areas give your secondary content a comfortable home.
Customize Libre with a logo or a header image to make it your own, or use one of two custom templates — including a full-width template with no sidebar — to change up the look of your pages. Libre sports a clean, responsive design that works seamlessly on screens of any size.
Read more about Libre on the Theme Showcase, or activate it on your site from Appearance → Themes!
Filed under: Themes
Reinvented Video for WordPress 1 Jul 2015, 3:52 pm
Today, we’re announcing a complete overhaul of VideoPress, the service that has powered more than 3,000,000,000 video plays on WordPress.com and Jetpack-connected self-hosted WordPress sites around the world. We’ve made the next-generation VideoPress dynamic, responsive, and lightning fast to support the ever-evolving needs of content creators everywhere.
Take a peek at what’s under the hood!
Embed anywhere, play anywhere
Out of the box, the new VideoPress is lightweight and responsive for beautiful playback on any screen, from smartphones to desktops. VideoPress works on all modern browsers and devices, and gives blog and site authors the power to engage their audiences no matter where they are.
Not only do videos look amazing on WordPress sites, but you can also embed your videos anywhere on the web — other websites, social media, chat services — by using a permalink or a snippet of code.
Major speed enhancements
VideoPress now takes a fraction of the space it used to and is optimized for speed, so pages and posts with video content load faster. This is a huge plus for viewers who use slower connections or rely on bandwidth-strapped mobile devices.
It’s your content
At Automattic, we believe wholeheartedly that you own your content — video or otherwise.
The new VideoPress puts your content front and center. The player is ad-free and unbranded to ensure your videos look and feel like an integral part of your website or blog, not like they belong to a third-party video platform. Unlike other video hosting services, VideoPress starts and ends on your video, keeping traffic on your site and giving you full control over the content to which your visitors are exposed.
New features, new look
Everything you love, and more
VideoPress embraces the features that users have come to love, like privacy settings and rich stats, but also includes additional enhancements. Every video now features its own permalink, and the sharing pane has been redesigned to offer different options for embedding, like starting playback at specific times, looping, and autoplay.
The rebuild of VideoPress revolves around a robust API for embedding videos easily in WordPress.com and Jetpack-enabled self-hosted websites. Though the API is private at the moment, many components of the new VideoPress libraries have been open sourced, including jpeg-stream, pixel-stack, and video-thumb-grid.
Get the goods
Once a standalone upgrade, VideoPress is now available exclusively in paid WordPress.com Plans to streamline updates, payments, and security enhancements.
To enable all the goodness of video support on your site, upgrade your WordPress.com Plan to Premium or Business. Then, upload and share videos as you please. If you already have a Premium or Business plan, sit back and enjoy. VideoPress will automatically handle the nuts and bolts to deliver an amazing viewing experience for your fans, followers, and friends!
Correction: an earlier version of this post insinuated that the new VideoPress is accessible for Jetpack users who upgrade to WordPress.com Premium or Business. Though videos can certainly be embedded anywhere, the option for Jetpack users to upload videos directly to VideoPress via a WordPress.com Premium or Business plan is scheduled for a future Jetpack release.
Filed under: New Features, Video, VideoPress
#LoveWins! LGBTQ Bloggers Make Their Voices Heard 30 Jun 2015, 10:30 am
You might have noticed the rainbow banner across the top of WordPress.com over the weekend — our way of marking Pride month, celebrated by cities across the globe in June, as well as the US Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across all states. (The United States now joins 20 other countries, including my own, Portugal, in fully recognizing same-sex marriage nationwide.)
Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins
— President Obama (@POTUS) June 26, 2015
Here at WordPress.com we strive to democratize publishing and empower freedom of speech. It’s amazing to see the thoughtful analyses of the Supreme Court’s decision already being published, like this excellent piece from Tropics of Meta putting the decision into long-term historical context. We’re also proud to provide a platform for all the incredibly talented LGBTQ writers who are advocating for change and sharing their stories, like…
- Let’s Queer Things Up!, written by transgender activist Sam Dylan Finch. We appreciate how open Sam is about all aspects of his life, from his fraught relationship with psychiatry to the best affordable chest binders.
- Bully Bloggers, an excellent group blog on “everything queer” from five professors from NYU, Dartmouth College, USC, and the University of Arizona. If you need a break after their analysis of the Irish same-sex marriage referendum, plant your tongue in your cheek and visit their “Freedom to Marry our Pets Society” page.
- Conner Habib, a writer, public speaker, and sex-workers’ advocate who penned the incredibly popular (and thought-provoking) piece, “Why do gay porn stars kill themselves?“
Pride parade, San Francisco. Image by Pete Rosos, 2812 Photography.
WordPress.com bloggers were also out and about with their rainbow flags this weekend, participating in pride parades from Los Angeles to Lisbon and capturing the days in pictures:
- Key West, Florida, via Ron Mayhew Photography.
- Toronto, Ontario, via Michelle Bozzette Media.
- Barcelona, Spain, via Transient Eye.
- Seattle, Washington, via Seattle to Shanghai. (Bonus: the Seattle Pride website is powered by WordPress, as are Atlanta’s and Vancouver’s!)
- Istanbul, Turkey, via Quartz (a less-than-joyous occasion that shows just how important it is to elevate LGBTQ voices).
- London, England, via Paris London Style.
- And of course, San Francisco, California, via 2812 Photography!
Pride parade, Key West, Florida, USA.
Photo by Ron Mayhew Photography.
We also had the pleasure of launching a website for Double Duchess, an energetic queer musical duo from the San Francisco Bay Area who just released their latest album. And check out the new tees and tanks added to the WordPress swag store in early June, in honor of Pride month — it’s the first time that we’ve made the same design available in a such wide, inclusive range of colors, fits, and body shapes! All the profits support the WordPress Foundation, which helps ensure that the free, downloadable version of WordPress is cutting edge, powerful, and ready for whoever wants to have a voice on the web.
Automattic is committed to diversity as a company (and we’re hiring!), and to providing tools that let anyone use the web to tell their truths and work for equality. Happy Pride!
Filed under: Admin Bar, Community