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Take the Leap: One Extra Day, Three Ways to Enhance Your Blog

This year, February is a day longer — let’s use it to make our blogs better.

“If only the day had an extra hour!” “I wish the week didn’t zoom by so quickly!”

These ideas apply beyond February 2016, of course — you can work on the same goals when a class or a flight gets canceled, your town’s snowed in, or whenever you have an unexpected block of free time.

How often do you complain about not venturing beyond your daily routine because of lack of time? Well, 2016 is giving you a freebie in the shape of February 29 — a whole extra day, courtesy of it being a leap year. How will you use that extra chunk of time? Here are three ideas for investing in your blog beyond the here-and-now of publishing.

Experiment with a new blogging tool

Keeping a regular publishing schedule is often a challenge — throw in the rest of your busy life, and you’re left with very little time to explore new tools that might improve your blogging.

With an extra day at your disposal, why not branch out a little — play around with an image-editing tool like Canva or PicMonkey and create new custom Image Widgets or a bespoke custom header. Even if you don’t finish your design that day, these are online resources you only need to master once. Next time you’re up for some design tweaks on your site — or even a full-blown makeover — you won’t have to learn a new system from scratch.

Get comfortable with basic HTML

Many bloggers — especially those who recently started — feel daunted by the gibberish-looking text you see when you click over from the Visual Editor to the HTML one. And what’s with all those angle brackets?!

If you give it a try, though, you’ll see that the basic tags in your HTML Editor — the stuff that makes your text turn italic and bold, for example — are really straightforward and easy to remember and recognize. And mastering a few of them can help you in several unexpected ways, whether it’s to add oomph to your comments, format your poetry (or other alternative-layout text) precisely as you want it, create lists and headings, or troubleshoot an annoying line break you just can’t seem to get rid of.

Added bonus: bragging rights! You are coding, after all.

Give unglamorous-yet-impactful tasks some love

From housework to trip-planning, our to-do lists always contain shiny items that receive most of our attention, and more pedestrian, drab ones that are relegated to the bottom of the pile despite being just as crucial as their flashier neighbors.

Blogging is similar: publishing, reading, and commenting are immediately rewarding. In many cases they result in near-instantaneous feedback — how fun is that? But let’s not forget other blogging-related activities that can produce long-term benefits for your site.

For example, why not spend a couple of hours auditing your tags and categories? Make sure each post is properly tagged and that none have more than 15 tags and categories in total (which results in their disappearance from the WordPress.com Reader). Check your Insights page to see which tags and categories get the most traffic, and plan new posts on those topics. Get rid of “islands” — way-too-specific tags you’ve only ever used in one post — and replace them with more sensible ones that would connect you to a broader audience.

You don’t even have to browse on your mobile device; you can just visit your site’s Customizer, where you can preview how blog’s appearance on three different screen sizes (desktop, tablet, and smartphone).

Alternatively, think of all your readers who view your site using our mobile apps, and give your site a mobile “pass.” By now, the vast majority of our themes are responsive; even so, some of your customizations — like header images and long post titles —  might look different than what you expect when viewed on a tablet or an iPhone. So just spend some time digging into the far reaches of your site using a mobile device, and fix whatever needs some attention.

Share your own ideas in the comments — how would you spend an extra few hours to improve your blog?

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      1. This is mostly for the kids who say, “life is boring, nothing ever happens. My life sucks” Plenty of adults feel the same way. We get used to the routine and everyday ho-hum. So it’s necessary to change it up!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank u so much…u really a nice teacher,as d name of ur blog implies…I want to cease this opportunity to invite u to like&follow my blog:telemohscorner. WordPress.com…constructive criticisms are highly welcome…

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I started playing around in the HTML about a month ago and I’m having a blast. I learned how to make jump links, so I went back through all posts to add them for recipes. But then I realized my recipe page links should also jump straight to them, which then meant I had to go through those too!
    Okay, so it’s a process, but I’m lovin’ the coding. I think I missed my calling!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I decided to give myself a crash course in Widget Enhancement–though I like a minimalist look those side margins can be a useful tool in directing readers to posts you don’t want to disappear; or to direct the eye to past, present and future so it feels like a live person is at the helm, even when there are longer gaps between posts. Thanks for the tips…html?…Whew. Next stop.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. A useful post, but having used the Customizer to view how one of my blogs looks (looks fine in all three sizes) I have to say that it doesn’t actually look that way on an actual iPad / iPod. The header image is very distorted and scrolls indefinitely.

    And as far as I am aware there is no way that I can alter how the feature image (or header image) appears.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. While it’s true you can’t alter the way the header image is rendered by the mobile app, you can still get an idea of how it’ll look, and more importantly, see if there’s any major issue to address — in which case you can re-crop the image or choose to use a different one (this is often the case for bloggers whose header images contain text).

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      1. My issue is that it does look fine on my laptop in all sizes, just not on the iPad. I will try the resizing though and see if that improves things, otherwise I will have to find a different theme or lose the feature image on my posts. Thanks for the feedback.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d love to add a fresh look to my blog with a custom header.

    The only issue is that I’m planning to add my blog’s title and a tagline in the header, but my theme means that the title is displayed above the header image. So I’d be duplicating the title twice.

    Is there any way to change this?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is! If you head to your Customizer, you’ll see the “Site Title, Tagline, and Logo” tab. Click on it, and at the bottom uncheck the box that says “Display header text.” This will take care of the duplicate site title.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. The 15 tag limit is good to know! And I actually nodded when I read the “long post titles”. Thanks for the article, very useful, especially as I’m a complete newbie!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Love how you make this extra day sound like a gift. I’d also add “revisit and update” to the set of “unglamorous” tasks. It’s both insightful AND rewarding.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Your blog’s topic is shared and covered by a very active community of bloggers – the best advice I could give you is to become engaged in that community: comment on related blogs, invite fellow bloggers to write a guest post, link to relevant posts in your own writing, and so on. It’s a slow process, but you’ll build an organic network that way.

      Of course, other, more general tips still apply: tag posts properly, share posts on your social networks, publish regularly, and so on. You can learn more about this in our Traffic & Growth archives: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/category/traffic-growth/

      Liked by 3 people

  7. I spend so much time messing around with different things in the customizer already, I’m not sure I could do it a whole lot more haha. Good article!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have the great good fortune of working with a former middle school student of mine who now tutors me on how to use these tools you are talking about. He walks me through each step and delights me when he patiently puts up with my lack of comprehension just as I did with him years ago in our classroom. He gave me the assignment today to spend the next week going back over my blog entries and making sure each is tagged and categorized. I appreciate your encouragement and look forward to investing writing time on the 29th…a few more thoughts finally put down and shared.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Thank you for the simple and doable suggestions – I’m relatively new to blogging and had no idea that there would be such a difference in view between full screen and mobile devices. My header is wordy and loses its appeal on the phone sized screen. Having just spent quite a long time figuring out how to put an image background onto it and make it look beautiful on the full screen it was a bit of a surprise to find a jumbled incoherent mess on the other view! Still now I know

    Liked by 1 person