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Writing Challenge: Map It Out

No matter how long you’ve been blogging, there is always more to learn. As part of the Weekly Writing Challenges,…

No matter how long you’ve been blogging, there is always more to learn. As part of the Weekly Writing Challenges, once a month, we’ll highlight a feature in the WordPress.com Dashboard and challenge you to incorporate it into your blog. We want to help you take full advantage of all the tools available on WordPress.com to make your blog the best it can be  — and to make your friends jealous of your web wizardry. 

To participate, tag your posts with DPchallenge or leave a link to your post in the comments. Please be sure your post has been specifically written in response to this challenge; obvious attempts to link-bait will be deleted. We’ll keep an eye on the tag and highlight some of our favorites on Freshly Pressed each Friday.


As bloggers, we scan through photos and descriptive tales from our fellow writers who share their travels with us. We can use tools like Google Earth to virtually explore unfamiliar cities or reminisce about our past excursions. In addition to our own photo albums, memories, and souvenirs, we have the entire internet at our fingertips to help us imagine or recollect our favorite places. Maps symbolize the places we’ve been, the places we want to go, and the places we’ll end up, even if we don’t know it yet. If there’s anything that travel (and blogging) can teach you, it’s that the world is gigantic, and incredibly small at the same time.

On WordPress.com, you can make your traveling tales even more vivid by embedding a map from Google Maps. With Google Maps embeds, you can detail each stop on a road trip across the country, plot out your favorite local restaurants on a dining round-up, or highlight the most meaningful places that you’ve ever lived. For step-by-step instructions on how to embed a Google Map into your post, check out this guide.

To get started, head over to Google Maps, type in a location (or locations), and then grab the embed code by clicking on Google’s link icon and then copying the code under “Paste HTML to embed in website.” You can also customize how your map will appear by clicking on “Customize and preview embedded map” to modify the height, width, and style of your Google Maps embed. You can embed a map with only one location highlighted, with directions between multiple places, or you can create a map with multiple location markers.

Google Embed

The Link icon to the left will give you the HTML embed code, and clicking on Customize will allow you to modify the height and width of your map.

For this week’s challenge, incorporate our Google Maps embed feature by plotting out some of the favorite places that you’ve been, or the places you want to go. Need some more ideas?

  • Draw a map of your life story. Show us where you were born and where you grew up. What were the most significant places in your life, and how did they change you? Give your readers a visual by including these places on your map to show in your post.
  • You’ve got three months, an unlimited budget, and a severe case of wanderlust. Where would you go? Would you take a train through Europe, or explore Asia by car? How about a bicycle trip across country? Let us follow you on your imaginary endeavor.
  • Be a tour guide. Every single city has something special to share. Tell us about the quirky, weird, interesting, or cool places in your town that all visitors should see.

Need some inspiration for exploring the open road? Check out:

144 Comments

  1. I wrote a post in response to the Daily Prompt today that just happened to double as the writing challenge since I embedded a google map!

    In this case, I wrote about the anxiety and helplessnesss I felt watching Hurricane Sandy smash across the northeast US (where my family lives) while I was stuck on an island in the Caribbean.

    I included a street view of the tiny, narrow road surrounded by marshlands on either side that leads to my grandmother’s neighborhood. It was well under water during the hurricane.

    http://wanderoneday.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/tropical-delight-to-dread-in-one-day/

  2. Erica, I’d like to highlight a Google Earth plugin from 3D Travel that lets bloggers show their travels in… 3D.

    I use it in Hawaii (http://the-military-guide.com/2012/10/29/3d-hawaii-right-here-on-the-blog/) but it’s also ready to go for Las Vegas and San Francisco.

    3D Travel is submitting the code to WordPress for release through their plugin directory, but it’s available now. In my case, it lets me share my favorite surf break with my readers.

  3. Great idea! Thanks for the step-by-step instructions. Maybe I’ll try it for my upcoming posts where I’ll incorporate a few photos of Montreal, San Francisco, LaJolla and Tulum, Mexico. Would have been a nice addition to my September 2012 post called ‘The Hunks of Huntington Beach, CA.” Happy trails to all!

  4. Would love to get in to some of these sort of postings.. I’ll have to wait though until I can sort out being seen on the reader ‘at all’.. even a smaller tag like Gerard Way, shows posts from months ago.. but not mine.

    Just wanted to add that, but hey am loving the posts on Map it Out.. well done!

    1. Oh well, until anything changes
      My Top Referrers like here: (since Feb 2012)

      1: Tumblr
      2: Twitter
      3: mychemicalromance.com
      4: Google, Bing, and Yahooo Search Engines…
      5: wordpress

      1. Had thought I’d be positive, with another posting for Review of 2012 in Pictures…. still not in Reader how ‘sad’ kept the tags minimal etc..

        Kept my eye on the topics I only used about 6 tags including Photography, Music, My Chemical Romance anyhow, I’ll add it here>
        http://apanache.wordpress.com as it’s on my front page
        or the story itself >
        http://apanache.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/review-of-2012-in-most-clicked-photos/

        Have a great day / night where you are all ‘at’ :)

        Sasha

    2. Are you having trouble seeing your posts in the Reader? If so, just let me know and I can shoot you an email privately to see what’s going on.

      1. Thanks so much Erica,
        Well yes and for the last 3 posts I believe.. I have been researching also in a few places like ManageWP albeit that is mainly for WP.org accounts did at least accomplish a Performance Test, and unfortunately don’t understand much of it.. (not ‘with it’ on css creating or working with etc..

        So yes please do email me :) Appreciated

  5. I have a huge appetite for challenge, but these days I am very limited by my economic circumstances. I have found that using Google earth as a means to walk down memory lane, and explore new landscapes and cities, is both very rewarding, and pleasingly inexpensive.

  6. Had thought I’d be positive, with another posting for Review of 2012 in Pictures…. still not in Reader how ‘sad’ kept the tags minimal etc..
    Kept my eye on the topics I only used about 6 tags including Photography, Music, My Chemical Romance anyhow, I’ll add it here>
    http://apanache.wordpress.com as it’s on my front page

  7. You can creat great custom maps on Google, with your own pinpoints and add lines to show routes. But you can’t embed the resulting map. Does anyone know a way round that?

    1. With the custom maps on Google, you should see be able to grab an embed link like the one pictured above. Is your map publicly available?

  8. Very interesting challenge… a couple years back when I began blogging, I decided to name the WP blog with ‘third culture children’, representing/expressing what my [now 3] kids are: the product of their mom’s and dad’s hybrid/joined cultures. Moving is part of our lives, and was part of mine way before met the so-called husband. Maps are a frequent guest at my posts, and this time, responding to the challenge, I’m ‘mapping out my life’, the moves I’ve endured as a nomad child back in Brazil, the changes leading me to a new path as an expat, a mother and a ‘trailing spouse’…
    http://wp.me/p1oMvI-3Vd
    Let’s see how it comes out & thanks for the inspiration! :o

    1. If I can do it anyone can. I actively repel technology. Teaching me to convert a manuscript to kindle was described as a like being in a room with a velocoraptor for a week. I won’t tell you how many hours it took but I did it and with hardly any need for alcohol.

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