Tag Archives: zerotohero

Roundup – Zero to Hero

zero-to-heroIn the second week of January I decided to have a bash at the Zero to Hero challenge, which proposed that following the exercises would increase my knowledge of how to use WordPress to best advantage.  It was primarily aimed at new bloggers who perhaps would not have much experience of messing about with the available tools in WordPress, and in that context, I think this would have been a very useful tutorial.  The thing is I am already an inveterate tweaker and had delved into most of the tasks that were suggested during the month, so I did find participating every day to be something of a chore.  That being said, I’m glad I took this on, because it prompted me to get my digit out of my orifice and do something about getting people to read my deathless prose, and I did learn about a few things I hadn’t discovered through my normal trial and error approach.

Did my readership improve? Well, I have also taken up the Daily Prompt challenge and from looking at the viewing stats, that was far more effective in bringing my blog to the attention of others, largely because of the pingback setup, which for some reason was not operated on Zero to Hero.

So, rather than re-hash all my thoughts on the daily tasks, I’ve listed them all below. The first link on each line should bring you to the task as described on the day, and the second and sometimes third links are my responses.

Task:   Day One: Introduce Yourself  –   Who I am and why I’m here 
Task:  Day Two: What’s your name?  –  Edit your title and tagline, and flesh them out in a widget 
Task:  Day Three: What’s on your mind?  Didn’t do this one, can’t remember why
Task:  Day Four: Explore the Neighborhood    –  Find five blogs you like 
Task:  Day Five: Love Your Theme   – Try out new themes 
Task:  Day Six: Try a New Element –  Publish a post that includes a new element
Task:  Day Seven: Personalize Your ThemeDo some more personalizing
Task: Day Eight: Make Your About Page Irresistible – Didn’t do this one, I’d been twiddling with that page the day before and was getting a little bored with that. I’d also found another writing challenge.
Task:  Day Nine: Head Deeper Into the BlogosphereNaPloPoMo
Task:  Day Ten: Add Two Widgets –  I didn’t but I wrote about it anyway – I also experimented with menus, because I prefer to balance navigation horizontally and vertically
Task:  Day Eleven: Leave Three Comments –  Leave posts on three blogsThe Liebster Award 
Task:  Day Twelve: From Comment to Postwrite a post that expands on one of your comments
Task:  Day Thirteen: Build a (Better) BlogrollCreate, edit or expand your blogroll
Task:  Day Fourteen: Blogger’s Choice! – reading and commenting – I spent so much time on that, I didn’t get round to posting about it
Task:  Day Fifteen: Explore Visuals and Content – I didn’t do this one, it was tantamount to offering an alcoholic the keys of a brewery
Task:  Day Sixteen: Personalize a PromptPublish a post based on your own personal take on today’s Daily Prompt
Task:  Day Seventeen: Increase Your Commenting Confidence – As per Day Fourteen
Task:  Day Eighteen: Activate a Social NetworkZero to Hero and Beyond
Task:  Day Nineteen: Publish a Post in a New-To-You Formatpublish a post in a format you haven’t used before  – Trust
Task:  Day Twenty: Add a New Page  –  Add a new page to your blog
Task:  Day Twenty-One: Build on your last post –  I didn’t do this one. It involved social networks again and I’d gone to town on social networking on Day Eighteen 
Task:   Day Twenty-Two: Try (Another) Blogging EventDraft a post for (another) blogging eventCee’s Fun Foto Challenge–Found in Nature 
Task:  Day Twenty-Three: Publish a Roundupthat links to posts on at least three others blogs and tell us why you love them
Task:  Day Twenty-Four:  Chat with other event participantsvisit five other participants in the event your chose on Day 22. Leave at least two comments. (Read and comment more if you can!)
Task: Day Twenty-Five:  Add one more custom touch – Good God people! Don’t you know by now that I’m a member of Blog Tweaker’s Anonymous? Have mercy.  Yes I tweaked.  No, I didn’t write about it
Task: Day Twenty-Six: Set up a few more drafts for later –  Today’s assignment: look back over what you’ve published. What have you been most proud of? What are the common threads? Which have been most popular? Create and save at least two draft posts with ideas that come from those
Task: Day Twenty-Seven: Revisit a task – Today’s assignment: Pick your favorite of all the tasks we’ve done so far, and revisit it. How can you continue to grow? (Bonus: revisit a post that’s been on your mind, and make the edits you’ve been thinking about.)  I’m going to be realistic about this. There were too many challenges this month. I’ll revisit this later, when I’m done with Zero to Hero 
Task: Day Twenty-Eight: Build on your popular content Find the post that has received the most views, likes, or comments, and write a related follow-up post
Task: Day Twenty-Nine: Create an Editorial Calendar – Ha! I did that during the task for Day Twenty Six

Task: Day Thirty: Think Big Picture –   Extend your brand, think about a bigger strategic plan for promoting your online presence, and set a goal for the next 30 days.

Under Pressure

NaBloPoMo_January_PressureI was too late to register for January 2014, but thought heck, why not give NaBloPoMo a shot anyway. The topic this month was “Pressure”. 

Just so I could keep track of the posts on this theme, I linked them all back to this one, so if you have a mind to, you can check them all out in the list of pingbacks to this post.

And this is the theme song.


NaBloPoMo January 2014

Pressure: Time

stopwatchWhat puts more pressure on you: time constraints or achieving perfection?

Taking the definition I checked on Saturday into account, e.g. :

sense of stressful urgency caused by having too many demands on one’s time or resources:  he resigned due to pressure of work[COUNT NOUN]: the pressures of city life

I can confidently say that time constraints constantly interfere with my desire to achieve perfection.  You know how it is – the work project has to be delivered by a certain date, the daily business has to go on while you are faffing about with external contractors (they never speak your language, you’ve got to learn how to explain what you want/need in their terms instead of your own), you want everything done right, if it’s a web application that your clients must use, and you have to support them and use the backend on a daily basis, it had better be perfect. 

In order to achieve this you’ve also got to work with colleagues (is this going to meet the need, will you understand how to use it?), and the clients (is this going to meet your need? will you understand how to use it?) and so on.  I’m currently taking a course in project management at work, the running joke among the group is that it would all go perfectly and delivery would be on time if it wasn’t for the other people.  They just soak up so much time. And there are so many other responsibilities you have to meet outside this project, do they not understand?  Why won’t they just get on with it?  etc., etc., etc.

The solution to this is of course to allow time to plan your project, with all the stakeholders, before you ever get started. If it looks like the project won’t be delivered on time, it is acceptable to re-think the plan, revise your strategy and in some cases it’s even ok to scrap everything and start over.  So in general, while time constraints in this type of activity does cause me to feel under pressure, it’s bearable and manageable.

A situation where there isn’t much chance of finding a “get-out” clause is in competitive sport.  Most sports competitions are defined by achieving a certain goal within a certain time, or within the fastest time. My own experience of this was in individual fencing tournaments, which I briefly discussed in Pressure:  Strength.    In fencing, you have to give your all in increments of 3 minutes or less. In that time, you have to be able to read your opponent sufficiently to predict their intentions, ensure you don’t signal your own intentions, come up with a strategy to deal with their approach, and mislead them into making errors, follow the rules and, (especially if your coach is watching!) execute all the moves perfectly.  In this scenario, it’s all on you. Nobody can help you, and there is no-one else to blame.  If you lose (fail), your opponent is better than you (not an option) or you just didn’t do what you were supposed to do in the allotted time, e.g. there is no-one to blame but yourself.  If you don’t have the right mindset to enjoy this particular type of pressure, you should think long and hard about making an activity like this your personal outlet, because I’m here to tell you, it won’t be fun for very long.

Pressure: DefinitionUnder Pressure – QueenNaBloPoMo January 2014Picture from 123rf (still waiting for my code…..)

Daily Prompt: Teach Your (Bloggers) Well

We all know how to do something well — write a post that teaches readers how to do something you know and/or love to do.

This is a hard one.  Yes, I know how to do a certain number of things well (don’t we all) but what, among those things, would be of interest to my fellow citizens of the blogosphere?

Would anybody like to learn how to knit? Make an Access 2007 database? Spoil dogs? Develop a skill for proscratination?  Make spaghetti carbonara in the Venetian style? (My friend from Venice told me the Venetian style is different and superior from any other. Well, he would, wouldn’t he? It’s the way his mama makes it.)

There are so many people out there, so many interests, what, if anything, do they all have in common?  Blogging, right?  So today, although I can’t claim that I know everything there is to know about blogging, I will share something I learned this month while engaging various challenges.  That something is, if you include a picture with a cute animal in it, you are going to get a whole lot of likes!  I knew already from all those who are wise in the lore of blogging that no blog post is complete without a picture that draws the eye.  I think this  story proves the case. 

While working through the Zero to Hero lessons every day, I kept an eye on my blog stats, and sure enough, every time I posted with a nice picture, the views and the likes went up.  I’ve used different types of pictures, but without even counting the responses from visitors, I was sure that if I looked into the numbers, the top rated posts would be the ones with pictures of my pets.  I did wonder whether the dogs or the cats would be more popular, and I got my answer today when WordPress kindly gave me notice that I had reached an all-time record for my blog of 36 likes in one day.

Allowing for time differences, although I got the message today, I think the likes counted were for posts I made yesterday. What did I do yesterday?  I posted two pictures of members of my fluffy family. I saw the message mid-afternoon, and, feeling the need for more love, I added a short post about this – 36 Likes in One Day.  Almost immediately, I got a really encouraging message from Michelle W at King of States, and another 4 likes to add to the pot for today, so I am feeling very loved, thank you all for your kindness!

Checking the stats for yesterday I found the most popular post was Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition, featuring my very serious, formal, kitty friend – Mr Kit-Kat, observing some nervous fish. This beat my post  Michelle’s Weekly Pet Challenge – Shiloh’s Snack , featuring my gorgeous large labrador Shiloh eyeing some rice-cakes, by a whopping 75%.  Does this mean that cat pictures are more popular than dog pictures? Is it because rice-cakes are not that appetising?  I’m not sure yet, so I’m throwing this out to you. Honest, modest, Shiloh is waiting anxiously by my side, hoping he hasn’t been overlooked in the rush to admire the glamorous Mr Kit-Kat. Mr Kit-Kat, on the other hand, is snoozing complacently in his little bed, pending room service being delivered by his human staff.


Lesson for today:  Don’t forget, a good, well-composed picture that suits the topic will bring you even more kudos. 


Daily Prompt: Teach Your (Bloggers) Well – Picture from WeBit Informatika

Daily Prompt: Teaching

Thanks to Darren Purcell who took this picture during a photoshoot for the A Dog’s Life 2014 calendar, I have a picture of me with my dogs (they are very few and far between, because I’m usually at the other end of the camera). So here I am, demonstrating the “all carrot and no stick” approach to teaching dogs. 



Daily Prompt: Teach