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The Community Pool is for those of you looking for input, whether on post ideas, writing, blog design and layout,…

The Community Pool is for those of you looking for input, whether on post ideas, writing, blog design and layout, or anything else. If you have a post, page, or idea you want to bounce off someone, leave a comment. Your fellow bloggers can then click through and offer input either on your site, or in the comments here (feel free to indicate which you’d prefer).

Read on for the ground rules and to leave a comment . . .

  • You’ll get the best feedback if you can be as specific as possible about what you’d like people to respond to or where you’re struggling.
  • Please keep all comments civil and constructive. We’re here to help and support one another, not to beat anyone down.
  • If you haven’t looked at our Commenting Guidelines in a while, now might be a good time.
  • To keep from losing your place in the comment thread while you visit others’ blogs, right-click on a link to open it in a new tab or window.
  • No running on the deck.

Photo by t_a_i_s.

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    1. I didn’t read your content because those sparkly dots got in the way. If you’re in love with the dots, you might try changing your blog theme to something that prevents that kind of interference. Check San Kloud, Albeo, Newsworthy, and others that frame blog content in a separate box.

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      1. I thought the sparkly dots could be distracting…..I can take care of that…thanks for the leads and input! ~Susan :-)

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      1. Thanks — I’ll take another look at that. It might be way too big, or even unnecessary . . .

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  1. Good morning everyone.

    Does anyone know more about Trackbacks. I am getting trackbacks and I want to know who the sender is. How do I find out?

    I know what a Pingback and most pingback attaches the site where it came from. But with the trackbacks, when I click on the site, it doesn’t seem to exist.

    Your expertise is much appreciated.

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    1. Trackbacks are a way to notify legacy blog systems that you’ve linked to them. If you link other WordPress blogs they’ll be notified automatically using pingbacks, no other action necessary.

      Think of trackbacks as the equivalent of acknowledgements and references at the end of an academic paper or chapter in a text book.
      Source: http://en.support.wordpress.com/comments/trackbacks/

      If you are getting a lot of trackbacks from site that don’t exist then it could be some sort of spam.

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  2. Good morning! I just feel like I haven’t quite found my niche and I’m not sure if I need to revisit the way my site looks (i.e., add tabs to separate things,etc.) I love to write mostly about personal experiences, I also write poetry and I love photography, although I have no desire to become professional. Should I focus on just one thing? Thanks so much!

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    1. I don’t think you need to focus on just one thing. There seems to be similarities between your various types of work. I believe your blog is unified in theme even though you have the various post types.

      If you were including reviews on the latest death metal hits, I would suggest putting that in a different location from the rest of your work.

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    2. What a lovely blog! I agree that there’s probably not a need a focus, but I would like to see some tabs. Without them, I can see the first few posts without exceptional effort, but I can’t really backtrack or focus just on the stuff that moves me. :)

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      1. Thank you so much; I’ve been thinking the same thing about tabs…I need to figure out how to do that. Thanks so much for taking the time to give me input!

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    3. Hi, you have a lovely blog and I agree with the other comments.
      I’m a new blogger (though I’ve been reading other people’s blogs for ages)… so I don’t claim to know too much about it… these are just my thoughts as a reader.
      Would be great to have an about page, so that your readers could know a bit more about you. An archives widget on the side bar would be helpful to find older posts. Perhaps adding categories would be helpful too (as Rarasaur said… would help people find the kind of content that attracts them), since there are too many tags.

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      1. Thank you so much for taking time to check it out; I will look into how to get all this accomplished as soon as I have a little extra time – Thanks again!

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    1. Two thoughts:

      1- If you don’t start adding tags to your posts, no one will ever be able to find them.

      2- If this will be your typical post length, I would strongly encourage you to use the zemanta feature. A picture or two will improve people’s reaction to your work. (I also suspect that including at least one picture also increases a post’s chances of being found by readers.)

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    2. Tags, tags, and more tags. My experience has been that the more you add to each blog, the greater chances other readers and bloggers will find you!

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  3. I would love some ideas about how to build interest in my particular blog- I’ve been posting more, and getting less attention…which worries me.I’m wondering if I need to narrow down my subject matter? And which blogs are the ones everyone feels I should stick with. Any input will be appreciated! Thanks!

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    1. I see a three month hiatus. That’s not the cause but it does explain a thing or two.

      The big one is that blogging has a high attrition rate. When people stop blogging here, they’re usually not around to continue reading the blogs they followed. Your audience probably declined during your three month absence because lost viewers weren’t being replaced. It takes time to rebuild.

      I haven’t been around long enough to know for sure, but I’ve also heard that the summer months are normally slow. That may also be a contributing factor.

      These strike me as more likely explanations than anything regarding your content.

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    1. :) The contest is great– light and personal, all at the same time. If I recommended anything, it’d be more pictures in the posts, and more color on the overall page– maybe something other than the default banner image? Something that is more YOU. :) Good luck with your blogging endeavors!!

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    2. Your writing was really smooth and flowed nicely. I enjoyed reading it. The only suggestion I have is to consider telling a little more about the movie so that those of us who haven’t seen it, will get a better understanding of what’s going on?

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  4. I have just discovered how to put text underneath a photograph, instead of alongside. This may well be obvious to most, but I asked for help with it in an earlier Community Pool thread, and didn’t find the answer then, so maybe someone else out there will find it useful.

    The ‘break’ tag (br, with style attributes) is the one that solved it for me. I think I last used a ‘break’ tag in the 1980s, doing markup for computer manuals. So I perhaps should have figured it out a bit sooner.

    I’m not at all sure it will display correctly here, still, no harm trying I suppose. So, like this, but with a ‘less than’ symbol at the start, and ‘greater than’ at the end.

    br style=”clear:both;” /

    Used here, on a post about Purple Potatoes – http://greenlegs7.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/purple-potatoes/

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  5. Hi. I like the blogging very much and have learned a tremendous amount this past year and a half. I’m not sure where I’m headed. I enjoy it … the poetry, verse writing and visuals along with all the posting education.

    I would actually like to get into something, say employment online but my skills are most likely not up to graduates of journalism and art schools. I still love it. Maybe you know where I should focus. Please have a look at my site.

    I don’t particularly like doing personal (photos, etc.), although I can incorporate feelings or a sense of abstractness in lines.

    I still like my site but love change~maybe this fall/Sept after I finish a project.
    I guess what I’m saying is I’d like to be more professional!!

    Thank you!

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  6. Hi,
    In a rare spell of inspiration, I began a post that became a little eight chapter book. I wrote it in one go over a period of a week or so.

    I’m looking for constructive criticisms from non-conventional experienced authors and professional writers. I have never written a book before. This is not a commercial venture; I’m looking at awareness campaign.

    Desperately in need of help.

    Here’s the link: http://middlepathofmoderation.wordpress.com/home/accepting-islam/

    Please leave comments here on the community pool with a pingback to the page. Because it’s written on a page, I can’t tag it. Sorry.

    Thanks in advance,
    Sona

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    1. The best way to get people to follow your blog is to write something worth reading. A good way to find your voice as a blogger is to participate in the Daily Prompts. Other bloggers will have easy access to what you’ve written. Another way to find followers is to follow others, like the posts of others, and comments on the posts of others. By just asking people over and over again on the community pool to follow you, you are more likely to annoy than gain followers (I am too annoyed to even bother clicking on the link to your blog, but that’s just me).

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    2. Feel free to ask for feedback on your site, but please do not spam the comments with repeated links to your site — they will be deleted (plus, your name is already a link to your site).

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      1. I can’t find the prompt post link in my blog.I need help.
        I’ve a poem on foodies.where do I inscribe in my blogs/or some article was there in Daily Prompt.(now can’t find it)

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  7. I’m new to blogging, and I started just to transport my emotions from my brain to anywhere else. I started as a way of release, to try to heal. I have always loved to write, but I’m not sure if any of it is even readable. Any advice you can give would be appreciated, either here or on my postings. Thanks!

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    1. I visited your site, and found it to be soothing. I like the soft green background; easy on the eyes. I like your writings so much, I’m already following you now! ~Susan :-)

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  8. Hi! If you could please spare a bit of your time to type what things about people in general saddens/distresses you when you see them (like use of multiple exclamation marks, for example) it’d be greatly appreciated.

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    1. “what things about people in general saddens/distresses you when you see them (like use of multiple exclamation marks, for example)”- in regards to blogging, or just in general?

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  9. I would definitely appreciate input on my blog, particularly because the topic (epilepsy) is rather niche. I am also curious as to whether a lot of people read poetry. I write in classic forms, and have of late been writing quite a bit of haiku. Comments may be left directly on my blog in the comments section of any post. Thank you very much. I appreciate the time you take to do this.

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    1. First off, niche topics often make the best blogs. It often means that a blogger is focusing on what s/he knows best.

      That said, your blog title is “Brainstorms: How Epilepsy and Writing Connect” but I was having a hard time finding much discussion of epilepsy on your blog until I reached July 2.

      People read Haiku; I’ve noticed that poetry generally receives a good response around here. However, the numerous haiku entries contribute to the difficulty in finding the epilepsy material your blog claims to focus on. Renaming your blog something like “Brainstorms: Poetry and Epilepsy” seems like the least invasive way of making things consistent.

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      1. Great observation, and I thank you for it. Although I enjoy writing haiku, I believe I will return to the focus of my blog, which is epilepsy. You are right. I appreciate your input. Thanks for taking the time.

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    1. I have a few thoughts.

      1- Somewhere on their support page, WordPress has tips on how to select effective tags. Read that and follow their advice. You’ll get more traffic that way.

      2- The color scheme is blah but the two of you seem to have more personality than that. A custom background or header would work wonders.

      3- The blog has no tagline but the “About” page is catchy. Maybe you could pick a favorite line or two from the “About” page for your tagline. The average reader may not know the definition of “chimerical” or “chicanery,” so you really need a tagline to explain what your blog is.

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  10. Apparently, I’m not the only blogger with a free WordPress blog who didn’t realize I have the capacity to embed youtube videos in my posts. It’s as easy as (& very similar to) inserting images. When you’re at the you-tube video site, just click on share. You’ll get a shortened URL which you can then copy. Go to your post and click on “Add Media” (like you would to insert an image). Then click on “Insert from URL” in the left menu bar and paste the link you got from “share” on youtube. You can enter a title, but it won’t show up with the video. Then just click insert to “insert into post” like you would with an image.

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    1. Thanks for that – very helpful. I’ve seen the ‘share’ tag on youtube, but thought it was just for facebook etc (and didn’t investigate). :)

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  11. My question concerns how to get people to loyally follow my log when I don’t have a nisch topic. I recently started a blog entirely about long interviews rather than regular blog posts and quickly discovered that people love emotional stories, but might not be as interested in general ones. The most break-through post has so far been this one, about a guy who left the Mormon church after 34 years and a decade of inner struggle: http://coolinterviews.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/leaving-church-an-emotional-journey/

    However, even that post has mainly been read by people who can relate and are in the same situation. How do I attract “the mass” and get people to follow the blog when I don’t have a clear nisch and the core is “long interviews on random topics” rather than “random posts on a specific topic”.

    Also, some other questions:

    – Should I rethink my strategy and make the blog all about lifechanging stories and not as “mixed” as it is now, to target my audience? (For example, I have an interview with a murder and ex inmate coming up, and one with a victim of sexual abuse as a child – they can’t really compare to interviews about skydiving or even being an astronaut.) Problem is, being able to write so broadly is what keeps my interested and if I would narrow it down like that I fear I would eventually quit.

    – How can I attract readers to other stories? I have clear images/banners in the sidebar but statistics show that only very few people click on to a second story – most read what they came for and leave.

    – Anything I should change about the general look of the site?

    – Anything I should change about the general layout/presentation of the interview posts? They all look kind of similar to the one linked to above, with a question-answer style writing, images in the text, quotes and additional media mixed together.

    I’ve started like a billion wordpress blogs over the years but this is the first that I really feel can go on for years and still have me want to contine writing. Any feedback to improve is greatly appreciated!

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    1. For starters, clicking on your user name connects me to a site about geocaching. Change it to connect to your blog.

      Next, I have a question for you. Is there something consistent in the way you conduct interviews? Something that other interviewers don’t do? If there is, that’s something you could elevate to part of your blog’s topic without changing anything.

      If you discover a common thread, try to integrate it into a new blog title. “Cool Interviews” doesn’t inspire much more viewing because “cool” is such an overused word. “Cool” is boring, so replace the word with something more concrete and specific. (In other words, give readers a sense that what they love about your Mormon post carries over to other things you write about. “Cool” doesn’t do that.)

      And the tagline might be better as “Amazing. Inspiring. Enlightening.” instead of the past tense forms you currently use.

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      1. This is some of the best blogger advice I’ve ever received :D You’re right about every point and I haven’t thought of either before. Thanks!

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    2. Get interested in other people blogs – and follow them. Some will come and visit your blog. And some will even follow you back.
      Tag, tag, tag and tag again. Each person who likes one post may get your blogrecommended again when you bring up new stuff, so to gain new readers at all is crucial. And – have patience.
      Unless you get freshly pressed which happens to only a few of the thousands of blogs opened each day, popularity grows slowly.

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  12. Hi everyone,
    I’ve been blogging for about four months now (I can’t believe it). Most of my stuff is opinion pieces on pop culture or politics, but I also have some humor pieces or general essays that I just don’t know what else to do with. I’m wondering if having a bit of everything is a good thing or makes people more confused. Any thoughts would be super appreciated!

    http://jamesonstarship.com/

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    1. Your blog claims that you are “exploring the pop culture galaxy” but your comment here says you do a lot of other stuff.

      If I were subscribing to a self-proclaimed pop culture blog, I’d be confused by the politics because it’s not what you’re advertising. (And if I clicked on your blog for a political article, the pop culture tagline would discourage me from exploring further.) Your humor tends to be about pop culture, so that fits perfectly.

      It’s okay (and often desirable) to have diverse things on your blog. At some point, though, it all needs to fit under some overarching umbrella. Is there some commonality between your pop culture and political posts? If so, highlight that in your tagline.

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  13. Hope everone having a great day! I’m not super savy when it comes to computers. I know a little bit about design, but I would really appreciate some input about my blog design. I’m a photographer and I’m using my blog as a part of promoting my business. I’m thinking of adding more pages in the top meny; black/white photography, landscape photography, portraits etc. But I’m worried that it’s going to be too much. I want to keep a simple, clean design, and at the same time I have so much more of my work that I want to have clearly visible. Any thoughts? I’d really appreciate it. Thank you./Maria

    http://discoveringranchlife.com

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    1. Maybe someone else can comment on the SEO bit because I’m no expert on that. However, I see three issues in your blog:

      1- I see posts where you have used more than 15 tags and categories. When you do this, WordPress excludes the post from the Reader and you lose an avenue for people to find your blog.

      2- “Unique Experiences with Travel, Service, Scams, and Humor” is more of a tagline than a blog title. (And “Unique” is not the most exciting word you could use. Replace it.) On your header menu, you have a page called “Attention business owners, wake up!” That would make an excellent blog title (and it would probably attract more visitors), especially if you use your current title as a descriptive tagline.

      3- Your blog title is tiny and your tagline is almost invisible. Since you’re using a premium theme, I assume it would be possible to integrate the title and tagline into your header image. The text behind that isn’t difficult. Just paste your header image into a PowerPoint document (or image editing program), put text over it where it will do the least damage, and save the thing as a JPEG. (I assume WordPress lets you crop a header image before you put it up. If you go the PowerPoint route, that’s a critical step. I also assume you can then delete the title and tagline from where they are now.)

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      1. Hi thanks again, I was wondering if I removed my tags so that I have less than 15 tags and categories combined , will WordPress Reader pick that up or do you think that I need to publish the posts again again?

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