Tag Archives: blog log

Blog Log #1: Features and Finding a Balance

Blog Log

Advice


Photo by Shell de Mar


Due in part to the launch of The Blogcademy, I’ve been getting a lot of blogging-specific questions lately and felt they deserved their own category and column! If you have a blogging question of your own, please send it my way at advice @ nubbytwiglet.com. The following question just hit my inbox:

“What is the balance between topics/features that you like to keep to maintain reader interest (e.g. your lifestyle, thought leadership, career advice, reviews of stuff you come across) and was this balance different when you first started out?”


How to Find Your Balance

When you’re blogging professionally and looking for ways to grow your readership, inevitably the balance question pops up. It goes something like this: “How much should I blog about myself versus more general topics in my niche?” This is important to consider because not everyone who comes across your blog will be interested in your niche. For instance, I’m a graphic designer but if all I posted about was my latest design projects and spouted out design jargon, my following would be a lot smaller because honestly, not everyone gives a hoot about design. And, I would get incredibly bored just posting about one topic day in and day out. I know that not all of my readers care about my profession but some may be interested in personal style, business and career advice, life in Portland and cool links I’ve gathered for the week.

While it’s important to have a defined niche that your content revolves around, if you wind your blog too tightly around a singular subject, it can become very dry and insular. Always use your niche as a guide — think of it as a bull’s eye in the middle of a dart board. But then, throw some darts a little further outside of the center. How can you add more depth to your content? What else do you have to offer?

The general consensus I’ve heard time and again is that people first visit a blog because of the niche but stick around for the blogger. We click in because a post intrigues us. But, why do we keep returning? For the personality! And as bloggers, we’re not all one-dimensional. While a lot of us have careers we love, families we love and so on, there’s still more to life. We all have places we love to visit. Favorite restaurants. Idols who inspired us to become who we are. Books and movies that move us. Other bloggers we admire. Living spaces we’re constantly revamping. As bloggers, by sharing what we are passionate about, we become more relatable and way less one-dimensional.


Columns I Started and Why

Many of the columns you currently see on my blog week after week have been running for four years strong! Most started because I noticed a gap in my content or was inspired by what I saw other bloggers doing. If you get an idea from another blogger’s column, just remember to give it a unique name and add your own spin!

• I started The Typofiles because as a designer in college back in 2007, typography and editorial design were of particular interest to me and I saw an opportunity to share new things I’d come across with other aspiring creatives. To this day, I mostly scan and photograph the work myself so it has my own spin.

• Link Love began in 2007 because I wanted a space to compile all the rad links I’d come across on the internet that week — it was a chance to share the love and link back to fellow bloggers I admired (I actually became friends with quite a few of them through this column!)

• I started The Week In Pictures in 2008 because I’d been carrying a camera in my purse every day for years and always ended up with piles of awesome, unused photos. Having a place to curate my latest shots every week and share new discoveries meant that I could convey more of my personality on my blog.

• What I Wore launched in 2007 because I’ve always felt that our sartorial choices are just another form of art. And getting dressed should be elevated to just that — it’s a valid creative outlet.

• I started my Advice column in 2008 because other aspiring creatives were writing me, looking for insights into schooling and design and it was a way for me to give back. I was always very open about not being able to afford art school and instead enrolling in community college for my design education. It turned out to be the best educational decision I’ve made and I wanted to let people know that sometimes it’s okay to take the path less traveled when it comes to education and careers.

• The Latest & Greatest launched in 2012 because I was constantly inspired by something new, whether it was a specific color or fashion trend and thought it would be cool to share that wavelength through simple visual curations.

I wanted to share this list to encourage you to think about drawing from your own interests for your columns. Don’t over think it — not every column needs to be groundbreaking. Some columns will develop naturally as you continue blogging while others may be created to fill a specific need. Listen to your readers — they’re not afraid to let you know what they want to see more of! But also, listen to your gut. Some columns may not be the most popular but maybe they’re a personal outlet that keep you inspired to keep on blogging. The key is to strike that balance!


Column Inspiration

If you’re looking for even more column inspiration, here are some of my favorite series I follow and love:

1. Gala Darling’s weekly gratitude list, Things I Love Thursday. 2. The super crafty Make It column by Design Love Fest. 3. Need Read Greed on Jane Reaction. 4. Friday Link Pack by Swiss Miss. 5. Be Free, Lance by Breanna Rose. 6. Door Sixteen’s Yeah, I Could Live There. 7. Launched! by Pugly Pixel. 8. Since You Asked by Cary Tennis.

And, if you’re thirsty for even more blogging-specific content, Gala just started a fantastic multi-part series!

It’s your turn!

What are some of your favorite columns?
Were some of your most popular columns a happy accident or did you develop them to fill a hole in your content?


View more of the Blog Log series here.

The Blogcademy: A Blogging Workshop!

the blogcademy

I am so excited to announce a brand new workshop that’s launching today, The Blogcademy! I will be joining forces this Fall with Gala and Kat to share everything we know about our favorite topic, blogging, with YOU! The Blogcademy is very special to me — for the last five years, I’ve wanted to share my branding and marketing insights on a much bigger platform and this is the opportunity for me to do just that!

An Overview

At The Blogcademy, we are teaching a two day masterclass for bloggers in New York City! Covering everything you could possibly want to know about blogging, branding and running your own business, this will be a weekend to remember. As Kat so accurately puts it, “We promise truckloads of learning, laughing, photo ops, sugary treats and homework assignments you’ll actually want to complete.” Sounds like fun to me!

As an extra special bonus, we’re bringing U.K. wedding photographer of the year Lisa Devlin along to shoot your new headshots! Amazingly talented and with a career spanning 20 years, she’ll also be sharing basic shooting, editing and Photoshop skills.

Want to know more? Head on over to our overview page!

My Focus

It’s one thing to have a cohesive look across all your online properties, but it’s another thing entirely to know if they accurately represent you or your business. My primary role at The Blogcademy (beyond all the branding and visuals!) will be to offer a unique perspective on building a brand from scratch, complete with real life examples. I want to take the guesswork out of brand building and show you the steps to take yours to the next level as well as adding that extra level of professional polish to your marketing materials. I’m not afraid to share what you should include in a media kit and I’m an open book on advice including how to forge creative relationships with big-name brands. Additionally, if you’re a creative company that’s not focused on ad revenues, find out how a blog can still help propel your business to the next level.

the blogcademy

Date, Location and Registration

The Blogcademy will be held at Silk Studio in Manhattan over Saturday, October 20th and Sunday, October 21st, 2012. If you’d like to register (seats are limited to 30!), please do so here.

Scholarship

When you’re getting started as a blogger, sometimes you need a break! We’ve decided to offer one scholarship spot to one of you! For your chance to win, just make a video telling us why you think YOU should be part of the first graduating class of The Blogcademy (hint: Be creative!) Upload it somewhere (Youtube/Vimeo) and send us the link by Sunday 16th September. We’ll pick our favorite entry and you’ll be invited to hang with us all weekend!

In Closing

I am so excited to be a part of The Blogcademy and to have a chance to share my branding and marketing insights with you in a fun, inviting format! The best part about joining forces with these two ladies is that we all cover completely different niches and therefore, have unique perspectives that will truly provide you with an all-encompassing view of how to take your blog and business to the next level.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit The Blogcademy. We hope to see you in New York this Fall!

Cheers to Five Years

link love

When I started my first blog in 2001 and mashed two of my nicknames together in the title box and hit submit, I had no idea how much it would impact my life and career. At that time, I was a 20 year old getting my general credits out of the way at a community college down the road from my dad’s house and blogging seemed like a fun way to pass my free time. I worked in an office helping out the accounting department during summer break and read a lot of fashion magazines; I didn’t have an inkling that design was the path I would take at that time.

In 2007, as I noticed many of my friends jumping from our tight-knit community on Live Journal to their own domains, I made the switch as well. I’d registered Nubbytwiglet.com a few years earlier but it was little more than a splash page (remember those?!) The shift happened when I was on a whirlwind 24 hour trip to LA — my friend Star (also a lover of red, stripes and crosses) was getting into web development and told me that blogs were the wave of the future. I was in school for design by that point and wasn’t so sure that I wanted to be so public; all the designers I admired were a bit mysterious. We had a heart-to-heart talk at a Coffee Bean in Hollywood: I wondered, if I shared who I was and more of my life, would my work be taken as seriously? Star convinced me that the new wave of creatives were different and that it was okay to step out from the shadows and share. So I gritted my teeth and in August 2007, I hit publish on my first post here.

I wasn’t exactly sure what I should post about so I just shared what came naturally; travel shots, my art, school design assignments and vintage graphic design books. I was lucky because although my following was small at first, it was loyal — I still count many of the people I met through Live Journal over ten years ago as close friends today.

Blogging is far from easy but it’s helped me find my voice, share my work with the world and make friends I never would have otherwise made. To say that blogging has changed my life is an understatement. Thanks most of all to Star for sticking with me and helping me get this third revamp of my site live — it’s been an amazing ride.

This design has come full circle, employing my love of Swiss design, minimalism, red and the symbolism of the cross. I’d been wanting to update the look of this blog for the last two years but having the time proved to be elusive — I’d planned it all out in my head for so long that it came together in two quick drafts when I finally sat down. I hope you like it! Star and I are still working out some bugs (including the slow loading times — sorry!) but we’re almost there.

Thanks so much for your continued support, encouragement, feedback and enthusiasm. It means the world to me.

The Tale of GoDaddy, Ukranian Hackers and One WordPress Blog

blogging

Photo by Annie Mole


I know that some of you use GoDaddy.com for your server space and to register your domain names. I want to let you know of some recent issues I had with my hosting so that you can hopefully avoid a similar fate.


From 2003 until about two months ago, I’d been extremely satisfied with my GoDaddy services. Not only were their rates reasonable but they had fantastic, LIVE customer service that was always willing to help.

That all changed quite suddenly about two months ago. One day, I began receiving concerned emails and texts from visitors to my blog stating that they were being redirected to potentially malicious third party websites when clicking in. I couldn’t see the issue on my end and I hadn’t made any changes to my files so I was completely unaware of what was happening. Luckily, two of my web-savvy developer friends came to the rescue and in less than an hour, they had diagnosed the issue (and fixed over 300 infected files). I was back up and running smoothly and that was the end of the issue. Or, so I thought.

On my end, I’d made a few key mistakes as a blogger. Firstly, I’d used nearly identical passwords to log into my FTP client, WordPress platform and GoDaddy account. Secondly, I hadn’t been regularly upgrading my WordPress software. I actually preferred the way an older version I was running looked, not realizing that as time goes on, hackers figure out holes in security and can compromise your site (each upgraded version contains major improvements and fix). Thirdly, while I was dilligently backing up the files on my server, I didn’t realize that another, equally important backup should be taking place — the WordPress database backup.

After making all of these changes, I was feeling pretty good (and safe). And, then the compromise happened again. And, unbelievably, AGAIN. Three times in less than a month!

I was dumbfounded. My passwords were now so ridiculous and long that I had to keep a list. My software was all upgraded to the latest versions. I couldn’t figure out what I was ‘doing wrong.’ After some digging, my developers had some information — my site was being compromised by a Ukranian hacker who had found a way in through my shared server space. When you buy the cheapest option from a lot of providers, you’re thrown into a heap with a bunch of other users. Someone was infecting sites on my shared server but interestingly enough, they weren’t erasing all of our files. What they wanted was far more valuable — our traffic. My site receives a few thousand visitors a day and the hackers wanted that built-in audience to visit THEIR site.

Once we had pinpointed the issue, I called GoDaddy. Though customer service was friendly, they didn’t offer any solutions that were particularly helpful (and buying dedicated server space is very expensive and not a necessity for my level of traffic at this point). I flat out asked them if they were familiar with the compromised server issue and they admitted that it ‘was a possibility.’ Yet, there didn’t seem to be any fixes in place. At this point, I was so fed up that I didn’t push it — I could tell that it wasn’t going to get solved. And, I wasn’t about to let it happen again. I understand that compromises in security happen, even to the best companies. But the same issue three times?! Surely, I wasn’t the only victim and they had to know about this.

According to Kimberly Castleberry:

It appears that someone took a botnet…and using a vulnerability that exists between WordPress and the Host (GoDaddy), is attacking every single blog/site that lives on GoDaddy’s servers. This round of infections appears to be unique to an exploit on GoDaddy.

By this point, I was sick of the headaches, the loss of traffic to my business and constantly having to readdress the same problem. I decided to get rid of a big chunk of my issue altogether — after upgrading all of my software, I moved my site over to DreamHost upon the recommendation of my web-savvy friends. And, I am about a million times happier. The user interface is much easier to use and the site doesn’t bombard me with a pile of affiliate products and services I don’t want or need. Thank you, DreamHost!

A Few Key Things You Should Do to Stay Safe


1. Use a different password for each of your accounts. Yes, this is a huge pain but totally worth it.

2. Always keep your blogging software upgraded to the latest version. In newer versions of Wordrpess, there’s a one button backup that takes care of it for you. Couldn’t be easier!

3. Use an SFTP client to upload content to your site as it’s much more secure.

4. Take the time to back up ‘both sets’ of your files — the content on your sever as well as your WordPress database which contains all of your posts, comments and the general formatting of your blog.

The Bottom Line


If you’re wanting to register a domain name quickly and at a great price, GoDaddy is fine. For hosting, especially for your blog, I would recommend looking elsewhere. Stay safe and happy blogging!


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