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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. Zero to Hero folks, head to today’s forum thread to chat about the assignment, but feel free to seek other feedback here!

  • 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. Happy New Year everyone!

    I would love feedback on a big change I have in mind for my blog.
    I’ve always blogged anonymously, never revealing my name and rarely showing my face. There’s safety and security in this that I have enjoyed.
    For 2014, I think it’s time to come out of anonymity- show my face, attach my name to the blog. I’ve put a lot of time into my blog and I’m really proud of it, so it’s about time I take ownership. Right?

    My writing definitely gets pretty personal at times, as you can see in my top posts of 2013 http://newyorkcliche.com/2013/12/30/2013-youre-done-slapping-me-around-wrap-up/ I’d love to hear the experiences of people who have done this. Who write personal blogs and what their experience attaching their name to that has been. I

    Of course I’d especially love the opinion of anyone who has read my blog specifically but also thoughts on anonymous vs. not blogging in general.

    Thanks much and wish me luck in my “unveiling” (unless you all convince me not to)! :)

    1. I’ve tried to blog without either trying to remain anonymous or promote to friends/colleagues. If they stumble across me then that’s ok. Not sure if that helps.

      1. I blog about very personal things….husband’s drug addiction, my battle with self harm, the list goes on. They are things we are working on, and I am comfortable with myself and our improvements. I do not write anon, and I really enjoy when I get to take the credit for helping someone in a similar situation. :) Best of luck!

    2. I’ve let a few of my friends know that I’ve recently started blogging and they’ve been really supportive, I recommend it massively!

      1. I have told my friends, and gotten nothing but support. It’s more allowing a google search/people I don’t know are looking find me. But I think it’s time! Glad you have awesome friends!

    3. I’m somewhat anonymous. My face is usually partially obscured, as are the faces of my loved ones. My name is real and is used, but my friends show up with fake names and my daughter is “the young one.” I don’t know if I could ever fully reveal because everything on the web is so linked. Have you ever googled your blog and looked at images? The images are from your blog, from blogs you’ve commented on, and from blogs that have commented on your blog. I can’t be linked to the entire world like that…no matter how wonderful people are.

      1. I will never, ever reveal anyone’s name but my own, so wise words on that! You inspired me to google image search my blog- crazy stuff. Puts term “world wide WEB” into clarity like never before. You aren’t kidding when you say “linked to the entire world”

      2. I’m glad you googled our images! The first time I did that I was quite in shock. Now I do at least monthly, just out of curiosity to see how many people I’m linked to. I think it could be even more involved. If I comment on your blog and then someone else does, I think even that other person’s pictures get connected. Who knows.

    4. I’ve been following your blog for awhile now and I have to say that I love that you decided to unveil yourself. I think it helps me connect with you better =) I guess it’s always nice to see the face of the person I’m conversing with…I think it’s a girl thing to want to face the person when talking. I hope this helps!! =)

      1. Oh, it definitely helps a lot! Thanks! Nothing more valuable than the perspective of someone who has been following for a while, and thanks so much for that! If you feel this way, I’m pretty positive other followers do too. This makes me really excited to show you more! :D

    5. Great blog and love how you are going to unveil yourself this year. It can be hard but know many are behind you and support you. Reading this made me think of one of my favourite bloggers who blogged anonymously for many years and then finally decided to reveal her identity. She did a Ted Talk on it here – http://www.schmutzie.com/weblog/2012/6/19/tedx-talks-elan-morgans-self-doubt-and-the-power-of-personal.html. Thought it might provide you some inspiration. Wishing you an exciting 2014 :)

    6. The level of openness vs. anonymity you choose should be based on what you are comfortable with exposing to the world. That is now and always how I have blogged, and how I plan on continuing to blog in the future. There are those who know who I am and those who do not. My intent is that my writing should be captivating enough that knowing specifically who I am, (name, etc.) shouldn’t be necessary. I make that decision on my own regardless of what others think. Whether you choose to reveal yourself or “remain in the shadows of the Internet,” I would encourage you to make your decision in a similar fashion.

    7. Hi! I feel a bit new in ‘wordpressworld’…but all of a sudden I read your question about blogging anonymously or not. I think I feel a little the same here, but I have started right away with coming out and show my face. I would like to be free to be myself in life (sort of a life’s lesson I think haha). For me showing ‘me’ is every time a little scary and it even holds me back sometimes in sharing my personal story. But I agree most on what other people wrote about what you are comfortable with is most important. It’s a bit of a struggle for me as well I think :-) But I like your blog and your courage! And I’m curious about what you choose to do! Good luck,

      Celeste

    8. I write a personal blog. Readers want and need openness. We writers don’t need to be afraid of that, although that is sometimes easier said than done. Readers want to feel connected and a lot of times they are searching for someone who has been in or is in their situation. We can’t give them that and we can’t reach them if we aren’t honest and vulnerable. That’s the beauty of writing.

  2. Hey folks! I’m new to WordPress, and new to blogging in general, and would love to have some feedback, positive and negative, anything that’ll help me really!
    Thank you.

      1. What would make the layout more appealing to you? I mean, that’s just a basic layout, just to get me going, but by all means, tell me how it would be better from your perspective!

      2. You asked the same question I was going to ask. I have no idea where to start. My plan is to use my blog page as a place to share my “poetry”. Would that work?

    1. I like the lay out. Really clean and easy to read. I really like the photos.
      You certainly cover plenty of ground.
      I’d appreciate any thoughts you had on my blog if you had a minute.

      1. Thank you for the positive feedback! I really love what you post, you present it well and have good content. My only suggestion would be to try and add a photo for each post, to break it up a little bit. That’s only a small suggestion, and I really like your blog either way.

      1. Your creativity shows promise. Your story is compelling. I encourage you to continue writing. As a writing coach and author, I suggest you take some workshops and/or join a writers group. There is a technique called “show don’t tell” that will help you express emotion in a way that speaks to the reader. Best wishes and keep going.

    1. I think it’s really awesome that you’re starting a blog to write through past issues- that can really help yourself and others going through similar experiences! I don’t know if you’ll appreciate this feedback- but I think you would benefit from finding a better header image. The low resolution and poor quality right at the top of the page really doesn’t make the best 1st impression! I have found that using humorous pictures in posts can offer a nice contrast to heavy content. An example: this post about a gut wrenching beak-up manages to keep a light, humorous tone through pictures http://newyorkcliche.com/2013/08/27/its-not-you-its-me-a-deluge-of-breakup-cliches/
      Also the old writing standard, “show vs tell” can really help bring in humor as well.
      Hope that helps you? Good luck with Zero to Hero!

      1. Thank you very much! I appreciate that feedback!!! Like I always say, I can take the good, the bad and even the downright ugly, but I’m not psychic in order to fix it, I have to hear it.

        Thank you so much!

      1. Really sorry that advice was meant for someone else. Mobile version let me down big time.

        Thanks for your advice on my URL. I will definitely look into it! :)

    1. I think your design and layout work very well for the kind of writing you feature. I also enjoy how each post starts with a quote from someone we likely all know. Nice!

      1. Oh I forgot to mention. I like your blog. The layout is good and the content is good. You are clear on what you are saying in your title. I like it very much. I don’t find the side widgets too dark – just enough contrast to separate it from your blog.

    2. Your style is easy to read without being too verbose. I enjoy how you start with a quote. Your layout is nice; however, I found the side widget a too dark for my taste. It does match with the background photo but it’s something to consider :)

    3. I really like how you start with a quote and then end with a question. It is a great way to carry on the conversation and engage readers. The only thing would be to change the background to somethings bit brighter. I found if you scroll down it gradually gets brighter – but the initially dark colour threw me off a bit. Great blog though and followed you :)

  3. Hello everyone and Happy New Year !!

    I am starting a blog for my school and I would like your feedback.
    It is in French but please tell me what you think about the design and layout.

    And, please tell me if you are interesting in a country in particular, I can do a page in english for you :)

    Tkanks !! Have a nice day !

    Marie
    http://domytrip.wordpress.com

    1. I can read the French language to a degree, but I’m deaf as a door knob sometimes so I can hardly hear English nonetheless French. I hope I get this right. Do I get kudo points for trying? :-D

      I liked the articles you posted. The photos that National Geographic used were beautiful, and get the piece on tourism affecting the environment was pretty awesome too. I didn’t really if they three reasons were ways they were affecting the environment or ways they could help prevent harmfully affecting the environment.. nonetheless a good piece.

      If I am horribly wrong, I’m going to feel like a moron.

      1. No, you are right! It is three ways to hel prevent the wrong effects of tourism on the environment.

        Thank you for giving me your opinion and don’t worry, you are not a moron :D

    2. I like the picture at the top for your subject matter. I would change the background as it appears somewhat ‘crafty – home’ pattern. Just a suggestion – and you may disagree. Travelling is so much fun.

    1. I love your little cartoons of yourself! Super fun and they make me smile :) I think the guide is perfect, as at first I was like- wait, what are all of these unique/different/creative/abnormal categories?? I’m a huge fan of unique/different/creative/abnormal things in general, so props! Still, good to explain yourself.

    2. I think that your blog is great. You have some great post ideas. My advice is to just keep blogging and comment on other blogs similar to yours, so that they can find your blog.

  4. Hi,
    I started my blog a couple of months ago. I have written several posts and have been working on developing my niche.
    I would really live and appreciate input from other bloggers on what I can do to make my blog better to attract more readers. Any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you!

  5. I’ve been flogging a few months now but have yet to figure out how to put items in the right side bar. At the same time, I have nothing in the left side bar so it seems like maybe I just have great margins. Tell me – is the blog too “blank” looking, or do I need to invest time in figuring out the side bar issues?
    Thanks so much!
    http://farfetchedfriends.wordpress.com/

    1. Looks good to me. I do see stuff in the right sidebar…also if you use sidebars I personally think just use one side and right is best as my eyes naturally want to look at the right first. Just my thoughts..

      1. Thanks Steve. I think I should have been more specific – pictures in the side bar, say, awards and blog buttons and what not. I’ve figured out the “widgets” and those get placed there.
        I just need symmetry. :)
        I appreciate the feedback!
        Vanessa

    2. Hehehe “flogging” typo (sorry, I played a pirate character once who actually talked about flogging all the time/I’m easily amused). ANYWAY The sidebar looks good to me too! I also prefer the single, right sidebar look. Your blog definitely doesn’t look blank!

      1. I’m still recovering from my trip. LOL. Just got home Weds on a first of the morning flight. Hehehehe.
        Thanks for checking out the blog. I’m glad to know it doesn’t look blank or imbalanced.
        Vanessa

  6. I want to get my blog out there for the public to view and take notice. I want as many likes that so many have here. Why am I getting so many views but never any likes on my blogs?

    1. you can only get “likes” from wordpress users. Your views can come from search engines- anywhere. I’m guessing that’s why? If you really want likes participate in wordpress on posts like this and daily challenges (oh my they have a lot of opportunities http://dailypost.wordpress.com) and comment on other wordpress blogs. Do that and I’m sure you’ll be well liked in no time!

  7. Hello everybody! I’m six days into blogging, yet I’ve managed to get quite a large number of likes of some of my Daily Prompt posts and blogs stats I’m pleased with. I love writing, and it’s great to finally be writing on a daily basis! What I’d like is just feedback on writing style and any improvements I could make to the appearance of the blog! I’m quite happy to give feedback to anyone who gives feedback on my blog! :-) http://www.incidentsofadysfunctionalspraffer.wordpress.com

      1. Ha as embarrassing as this is that was to someone else. So now let me talk about your blog! I really enjoyed your most recent posts on both happiness and truthfulness. Maybe I enjoyed both of them because they do need with me- I too love music. And that’s what blogging is about ultimately, it’s about making a connection with your audience and I believe you do a nice job with that. With your post on truthfulness I also enjoyed the connections that you made throughout the post to both the video and the book.

    1. Your writing style is good so far. I would suggest learning how to incorporate links better. Having a full link show makes the posts look a little cluttered. You could highlight “daily post” and use the little link button to make it a link… this sounds confusing but there’s a WP post on it, I’m sure :)

  8. I started my blog about 5 days ago, I’m struggling with the design and don’t really get how to really customize my blog. I’ve never used wordpress before or had any type of blog, can I add catergories to the top menu? Are different themes for different levels of customization? As it is a videogame blog I assume that a magazine style theme would be better. I’m looking to upgrade soon so just looking for advice

    http://thevideogamedebate.wordpress.com/

    1. I’m by no means an expert, but it looks pretty good to me. The logo is creative and bright but not obnoxiously so. I’m a huge fan of the nice, clean layout you chose. Maybe on the left with your widgets you could add links to other useful sites to help with road rage and other safety related things. Really, that’s about it.

    1. I tend to have that as well. Ultimately, we all want to be entertained, but quickly. Find what your intention is in telling your story and identify how you can tell the story in a shorter way without losing the meat of it all.

    1. This is more of a personal preference, but I like the sidebars on the right hand side of the page. It’s more natural for most readers because you read from left to right. Other than that I think your layout is excellent for the type of site you have.

      One thing you could do though is put your ‘about’ and ‘FAQs’ on a separate page. Save the personal stuff for your about page and when you get questions about the site or even personal questions you can stick them on the FAQ page. It’s not necessary but some readers like a little biography in the ‘About’ section instead of just FAQs.

      I think you’re off to a good start and have some interesting articles for your target audience. One way to attract more readers would be to comment on other blogs that are about a similar topic. When you comment don’t just say “Awesome blog! Here’s mine: [link]” Leave a thoughtful comment and they’ll be more likely to check out your blog. Adding in social media links to say Facebook or Twitter accounts for your blog would also be a good idea. I’m only on Twitter for my blog but I still get daily referrals from there.

      A great site to get blogging tips from is timethief’s: http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/basic-blogging/

      She has so many ways to get readers and drive traffic to your blog as well as how to do more technical stuff.

      1. Thank you so much for your comments! I totally agree with you that having sidebars on the right side is much more practical. I’m not sure if this is just my theme, but even with nothing on the left I still have a sidebar and my title stays on that side. I’ll probably just explore a different theme, but if you know how this could be solved I would appreciate it!

        Thanks also for the link, there’s so much wonderful info there I’m definitely bookmarking it to use all the time.

        I loved your blog as well, thank you again!

      1. Thanks Mike. I’m not sure if that’s the word I was going for. lol. But it all works. I’m not sure romance authors consider it, but I suppose it is. They write a lot of erotica – which used to be porn I think. My stories aren’t erotica.

  9. This thread is helping me find amazing new blogs to read! But I am here for guidance and advice on how to create a system for my blog AND to know whether what I have is working for readers. I like my layout but the content is what I am not sure about.
    I tend to post 2-3x a day when I’m going hot and heavy then fizzle out after awhile … any helpful hints? I try to schedule but somethings start to think it’s something that needs to be OUT there or I simply want to get more views for that day.

    http://journeythrul.com

    Overall critiques would be awesome! Content and timing is what I’m focusing on, though. Thanks!
    ~ juliane ashley

    1. You should definitely come up with a posting schedule. Focus more on getting consistent and repeat traffic than getting those daily views as high as possible. You want to create a readership, and people will come to expect things of you. Don’t have them expect 2-3 posts a day if you don’t want to deliver it. Pace yourself.

      1. Thank you! Focusing on the daily views is definitely my downfall :/ I’m trying to branch out, too, and join some communities for similar bloggers to help with the scheduling.

      2. So far I’ve found “20SB” 20 something bloggers, I applied but not sure what criteria they have other than age … but I’m still figuring out how to find other communities. Probably going to google it :P

    2. Hello Juliane Ashley,

      Focusing on a posting schedule is a good idea. Since I decided to do three posts per week, I’ve been writing posts and thoughts in Word on my off days so that I don’t forget what I wanted to say. In that way, I can keep to the schedule I’ve set. It also helps with the fizzle problem because I have a few blog posts ready for those days when I am not sure what to write.

      I’m still pretty, but that strategy seems to be working well for me so far.

      1. Thank you! I started creating a Word system for my posts today and hope that will help me out! Currently, though, I’m already struggling to decided what to write since I still feel so in between… but it’ll come!
        Best of luck to you, too :)

  10. hi community.

    I have created a blog around work in a church and student ministry. started in house but lessons, ideas and musings i wished to share. Concept now is to spread to a wider audience. Thank you word press for soundboards and lots if learning

  11. We’d love feedback on how people view the blogs of others. We use the ‘Delicious’ theme, which is somewhat magazine style. We have a section just under the main, revolving header, where we put three older articles, rotating them from time to time – calling it ‘Recycling Zone’. What we’ve noticed, is that when we change out those articles, the first one on the left will get new “likes” but never the other two articles. If anyone knows why that is, we’d surely appreciate knowing! Thanks. ~SueBee

    Our site is http://suebeeandkat.com/

    1. Just google the things you are interested in and you will come up with loads of websites. Follow those that are connected to your own topics – otherwise it’s all too time-consuming.

  12. Hey folks! I’m a new blogger here and would really appreciate any input you have! I don’t like to do anything halfway, so any advice and tips are much appreciated!

  13. Hello all and happy first Community Pool of 2014! Wooo! I’ve been blogging for about 5 months and I’m always looking to improve my blog. I also love meeting new bloggers through the Community Pool, so visit my blog and I’ll visit yours! <3
    Christina

      1. Hi Arianna! Wow! I love your blog as it is also very positive and inspiring. Also, I can’t help but notice we are into the same field, the art of Counseling!! You’re more ahead of me as I’m still a grad student, but I so look forward to finding inspiration from you and your experiences =) <3
        Christina

    1. In the process of determining health issues and love fitness, so your blog piqued my interest! The style and layout look great and it pulls you in immediately! Cannot wait to follow you in the New Year :)

    2. Hi Talia,
      Just followed your blog! I think it is so important to take control of your heath. I love health and fitness too. The format of the posts looks great. One thing I would add is maybe at the end make the question to readers in bold for emphasis and draws their attention there. Other than that – great job. Looking forward to reading more.
      – Arianna

    1. I liked your post about engagement & expectations : very nice and quite funny :)
      Maybe you should try a smaller police which will make the reading easier ! (I hope my english is good and you understand correctly what I am saying..)

      I find important to post once a day or every two days, to keep followers interested in your blog! I think your blog will be very nice with some more posts!! :D

      Marie
      http://domytrip.wordpress.com

    2. Your layout and writing style is very appealing. However, the photo header and text is big. Stylistically the text is nice, but it makes the post look longer than it probably is and some people may be turned away by that. Also, it does not view well on a mobile reader. Other than that, I think you have a great start and have a great writing voice that will draw people in :)

  14. Hello. I started out blogging with a name not my own (Mary). As I realised mine is not a particularly controversial blog, or one that benefits from anonymity, I have gone to using my real name (Abby). I have saved this on all the WordPress settings that I am aware of. However, it still shows Mary as the author of each post, and Mary as the name of the link to my Google+ account (successfully changed to Abby on the Google+ account itself. Is there anything that I can do about this. Sorry Mary, but I need you out of my life. Thank you

      1. Hee hee. Sorry Mary!!! It’s a lovely name – hence why I chose it. Got to go back to being myself though. As you say, the grass does always seem greener…..

  15. Hi everyone!

    I have only had my blog a month, but I finally got Photoshop and added a header image to my page.

    Please let me know what you think. I think it looks a little more like a home now.

    Also, I think I have too many widgets in my sidebar. What do you think? Which widgets do you think are most important?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. I don’t think there are too many widgets at all. If I were to give any advice, you could try differentiate them a bit more so that each stands out. Also, you could shorten some (e.g. reduce recent posts to 10 rather than 15, and have titles rather than pictures for blogs you follow).

  16. Hey peeps, I have recently started this art blog and even though I haven’t uploaded much content just yet I’d love to hear some feedback on the layout and… Everything :))) thank you

      1. Oh that was quick! Thank you so much! But see that was what I was afraid of, there are a few categories which obviously you haven’t seen… The main page with the circle photos only shows the latest posts… Hmmm I need to improve that bit :/

  17. Hey all, I am looking to expand my friends around here and am looking for some blogging communities to join! Any ideas where to look or will communities find you once you reach a certain level?
    I’m 20-something and post a lot of law school, health, fitness, and life in general — so any communities with like-minded people would be great. Mostly looking to challenge my writing and gain accountability.

    I appreciate any help :)

    1. The best thing you can do upfront is get yourself on a regular posting schedule. Read other blogs, comment on them, participate in community events like this one.