- Téléphone mobile
- Me contacter Formulaire de contact
Situation professionnelle En poste
Emploi et carrière Ouvert aux opportunités
Qui suis-je ?Journaliste et Community Manager dans des média éditorialisés. Pigiste à l'occasion. Enseignant formateur en journalisme et Web social quand il me reste du temps. Podcasteur compulsif. Blogueur un peu foufou. Compositeur et écrivain depuis trop longtemps. Aime les réseaux sociaux, les lolcats, les cats pas LOL, la musique classique, l'humour absurde et les bios à rallonge.
An ode to a father, a story of growing up with two mothers, a request for a cloak of visibility, and a reflection on goodbyes. Here are four Freshly Pressed standouts from this week — all quite personal pieces that have resonated with many readers. Go ahead and dive in:
My father spent his years fighting his size, wishing he was smaller, weaker, less of a giant. He was taught to hate his body, and he was ashamed of the amount of space he took up. But he passed his strength to me, and I won’t squander my inheritance. I will not let myself be diminished.
Tiffany Kell, a contributor and dancer at More Cabaret, reflects on her father’s recent passing, and his long struggle with his weight and health. She describes him vividly — “born larger than life” and of a family made of “Viking stock” — and creates a strong, invincible man in our minds.
“But he didn’t want to be a giant,” she writes. “He wanted to be thin.”
She recounts the experimental diet programs he tried, his obsession with calorie counting, his celiac disease, and — finally — his last year: wasting away, becoming a shadow of himself. This post isn’t simply an ode to her father, but an intimate, powerful piece about who she is and where she comes from — and ultimately becoming comfortable in one’s own skin.
As Queer Black women, we don’t have many role models. The connection and communication with our elders is rare. It’s important to recognize and honor the LGBTQ women in our lives who have come before us, blazing trails that we may not have ever known we’d walk.
This week, we read a number of posts celebrating Mother’s Day, from reflections on motherhood to interpretations on “mother.” Nitra at Wise Edits tells a bold and moving story about growing up in an unstable household of drugs and abuse — and finding happiness and a haven through her Aunt Dee. But this woman disappears from her life, and it’s not until Nitra is older, and comes out to her family, that she learns who Aunt Dee really was, and is.
Beautifully told, Nitra’s piece celebrates the connection between mother and child, unbreakable bonds over time, and the queer household. We appreciate her warm, honest voice and tribute to the women in her life.
Women of a certain age.
No need for an invisibility cloak.
We just vanish.
The author at Memoirs of a husk muses on a number of issues in this poignant post: Beauty. Womanhood. Aging. She writes about what happens when you “fray around the edges”: when you need a lip pencil and clear mascara to get noticed, yet no matter what you do, you’re no longer you: “You start to see just that — a woman, nothing more,” she writes. “No past, no personality, no added dimensions.” At the end, she asks JK Rowling for assistance — to invent a cloak of visibility, “not for our fraying lips and bushy eyebrows, comfy midriffs or laughter lines, but for us. Whoever we are.” We like this blogger’s voice: it’s fresh and unique, and her style is quiet yet sharp — we’re curious to read what she tackles next.
Of course there are friendships that reside far beyond geography’s lethal grasp, laughing in the face of distance. “A friendship that can be ended didn’t ever start,” wrote the French poet Mellin de Saint-Gelais. Philia, or the platonic love between friends, is perhaps not as sexy as its cousin eros – romantic love, but it’s the purest of all the loves. No sex or jealousy to muddy the waters. No mandatory filial piety. No professional incentive. Just the pure joy of voluntarily shared company, of dipping into each other’s souls every once in a while.
Nick Ashdown, the blogger at Advokat Dyavola, has lived in Russia, Turkey, and Rwanda, so he knows a thing or two about goodbyes. Yet they never get any easier. Here, he discusses the word “goodbye” (which he finds absurd, as “nothing feels good about it at all”), and its euphemisms (“see you later” and “let’s stay in touch”). In his reflections, he describes the different connections we have in our lives: people we may never see again, but also those friendships that last, despite the distance.
In a time when some of us wander the world as nomads, and many of us communicate and maintain relationships online, Nick’s thoughts on goodbyes and friendships are at once timely and timeless — and relatable to others.
For more inspiration, check out our writing challenges, photo challenges, and other blogging tips at The Daily Post; visit our Recommended Blogs; and browse the most popular topics in the Reader. For editorial guidelines for Freshly Pressed, read: So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.
Happy Theme Thursday! Sharing and managing your work online should be easy, and today I’m thrilled to announce a new theme from our friends at The Theme Foundry that helps you do just that!
Snap is a responsive, lightweight, and minimalist theme that makes it easy to feature your projects. Snap’s clean grid based blog layout and configurable page templates also make it incredibly flexible.
Read more about Snap in the Theme Showcase, or test drive it for yourself by going to Appearance → Themes in your Dashboard.
Since the dawn of time, humankind has yearned for control. While we can’t give you more control over most of your life, we can give you more control over your widgets. And today, with the new widget visibility tool, you can configure your widgets to be shown or hidden only on certain pages.
Widgets are a way to add new content (like your Twitter stream, a tag cloud, or a link to your blog archives) in the sidebar, header, or footer of your site. To see the widgets you have available to you, log in to your WordPress.com dashboard and click on Appearance » Widgets. To add a widget, simply click on it and drag it up and over to the right of the widget screen, into the Default Sidebar, Header Area, or Footer Area section of your site. Then, to control visibility, expand the widget and click the Visibility button next to the Save button.
For example, if you wanted the Archives widget to only appear on category archives and error pages, choose “Show” from the first dropdown and then add two rules: “Page is 404 Error Page” and “Category is All Category Pages.”
You can also hide widgets based on the current page. For example, if you don’t want the Archives widget to appear on search results pages, choose “Hide” and “Page is Search results.”
Visibility is controlled by five aspects: page type, category, tag, date, and author, but each visibility rule is handled separately, so there isn’t a way, for example, to only display a widget on posts that are categorized as “Summer” and also tagged with “Picnic.”
The visibility panel is available today in every widget for every user on WordPress.com; visit Appearance » Widgets in your blog’s dashboard to take control. Or, to learn more about using widgets on your blog, check out our recent Introduction to Widgets series: Widgets 101, Widgets 201, and Widgets 301.
All kinds of organizations make their home on WordPress.com: small businesses, municipalities, religious organizations, schools, community groups. We also provide an online HQ for quite a few non-profits, from the global to the hyperlocal. They turn to WordPress.com for an easy-to-use, low cost solution that gets them an effective web presence without diverting thousands of dollars from their missions: helping others.
Here are just a few of the organizations that call WordPress.com home, and some of the ways they’ve used WordPress.com to create compelling sites that tell their stories and engage their supporters — nearly all for little or no cost:
Girls’ Globe is a Sweden-based non-profit that connects individuals and organizations dedicated to the rights, health, and empowerment of women and girls.
The site creates a space for bloggers and non-profits to share stories of their challenges and successes. Each of those stories becomes a learning experience for women’s rights advocates, giving them a new tool, suggesting an effective strategy for advancing girls’ rights, and providing international exposure.
Girls’ Globe uses the Oxygen theme, taking advantage of its post slider to create a colorful, graphic homepage that showcases the site’s most powerful stories. A custom menu guides visitors both to topical content and to pages critical for any non-profit: About, Partners, and Donate, where embedded PayPal buttons let visitors easily support the organization using either US dollars or Swedish krona.
We found many literacy organizations on WordPress.com — fitting, for a platform that’s about writing and reading great content. Among them is Turning Pages, a South Carolina non-profit offering adult literacy and math classes and tutoring:
Turning Pages relies on the Confit theme, originally designed for restaurants but perfect for creating websites with focused, easily navigable home pages. Their mission is front and center, and the home page also makes important information like address and office hours, a contact form, and a donate button accessible with no further clicking. In the sidebar, a custom menu lets potential volunteers and adults seeking assistance find relevant information easily. (If you’re interested in building a website with a home page rather than a blog, as Turning Pages has, check out our home page tutorial.)
Confit is designed for a large custom background image, and Turning Pages has chosen a panoramic shot of the Congaree River bridge, a Columbia landmark. It adds visual interest and emphasizes that this is a community-focused organization while not distracting from the important content on the page — a perfect double-duty background.
Tuning Pages isn’t the only organization that saw the potential in the Confit theme — the Vida Vegan Conference is also using it to share information about its upcoming gala, benefitting a chimpanzee sanctuary.
When the world first became aware of the atrocities committed in Uganda by Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army, sending footage of Kony viral, Invisible Children was one of the main drivers behind the campaign. A California-based non-profit, Invisible Children is dedicated to ending the use and abuse of child soldiers in Africa, and their online component is powered by WordPress.com VIP:
Invisible Children is packed with information, from an interactive crisis tracker that lets visitors zoom in to learn more about specific incidents across Africa to a lobbying sign-up form and Congressional calendar for would-be activists. Compelling video and data help them make the case for their work, and the site provides ample opportunity for interested visitors to get involved, from simply making a donation to attending an event to applying for a job.
You might not think that a theme called Fruit Shake featuring bananas in its header would be a good foundation for a non-profit website — but then, you haven’t seen the Metro Council for Teen Potential:
Based in Rochester, New York, The Metro Council is a community youth support organization offering health and skills education, mentoring, and leadership training to young people in the greater Rochester area. Using Fruit Shake, they’ve created a simple, clean site. A front-and-center mission statement and bold photos of the teens it works with give visitors an immediate sense of what the organization does, and the navigation options in the sidebar make it easy to sift through the site’s options.
From animal welfare organizations to museums and municipal organizations to scholarship funds to community groups distributing food and clothing to the homeless and beyond, non-profits use WordPress.com to get their word out about their missions, attract volunteers, fundraise, and organize events, all in the name of the greater good. We’re proud to give them a platform that helps them create change.
Every few weeks, we’re sitting down with an Automattician to help you get to know the people who work behind the scenes to build new features, keep Automattic running, and make WordPress.com the best it can be. This week, we’re very pleased to introduce you to Mr. Philip Arthur Moore: Theme Broker, global nomad, and emoticon expert.
What kinds of awesome things do you do at Automattic?
I’m currently the Premium Theme Team lead at WordPress.com. The majority of my waking hours are spent feverishly obsessing over making premium themes a world-class experience for all WordPress users. This means a lot of different things: ensuring that customers are well-supported in our premium themes forum; auditing every single line of code in every premium theme; educating the WordPress theming community on proper approaches to WordPress theme development; and with my colleagues coming up with strong, robust guidelines for developing themes the WordPress.com way.
One of the more exciting parts of my job is being able to partner and work very closely with premium WordPress theme shops like Graph Paper Press, The Theme Foundry, Press75, and Organic Themes to bring some of the best WordPress.org themes onto WordPress.com for our users’ delight. In many ways I feel like not only do I have Automatticians as coworkers but partner theme shops as well. Many a long night has been spent prepping premium themes for their launches, none of which would have been possible without solid, thriving relationships with our partners. In short, premium themes are my life right now.
Tell us about a project you’ve worked on recently.
My favorite ongoing project is _s, or Underscores. It’s a starter theme on which every single Automattic premium theme is built and it was created to both help us do our jobs better and educate the WordPress community on theming best practices. I actively contribute to the project primarily because I strongly believe in developer education and Open Source. It also doesn’t hurt that I get to play with git and GitHub, which is one of my favorite companies in existence.
It’s hard to understand the power of _s unless you see what’s built with it. Further, Ryu, A Simpler Time, and Untitled were all created using _s, but you’d never know it without being told and that’s what makes the starter theme so powerful. To date, Underscores has around 34 total contributors and it’s always open to more. I’ll continue to work on it because it provides a solid benchmark on which to grade other themes and it also gives me a chance to interact with the theming community.
What have you learned that you can share with WordPress.com users?
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life is that writing will take you everywhere. It doesn’t matter what occupation you hold or what you study, writing will take you far. If you are a new blogger who doesn’t know what to write about, just write; it’ll come to you. If you form the habit of blogging daily or weekly and stick to it, you’ll find your voice in no time and you’ll thank yourself for slogging through the days when writing didn’t feel so great. Keep at it and don’t stop, and a year from now you’ll be thankful your fingers kept tapping on your keyboard.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Without a doubt what I appreciate most at Automattic is the level of confidence that my colleagues and I have for each other to be the best in the world at what we do. We push each other to grow and learn, rarely — if ever — accept the status quo, and always think about how to make things better. We’re managers of one who rely on trust and sound judgment to guide our collective ship; it truly is a pleasure working with a company filled with so many independent thinkers who care most about pushing the needle forward day by day.
It also feels incredible to know hundreds of other like-minded individuals spread throughout the world who are firmly united by the goal of making the web a better place. I’m not alone in my love for WordPress and an open web and being virtually surrounded by others who share the same views really is something special.
What do you love to do in your spare time?
Spare time will almost always consist of one, or any combination of the following:
- Reading up on fellow Third Culture Kids, Third Culture Adults, and Global Nomads. I’ve lived mostly outside of my birth country (the US) for the last decade and connect best with expats and mobile souls.
- Watching Seinfeld episodes for the umpteenth time. George is getting upset!!!
- Digging deeper and deeper into the Spotify rabbit hole to find smooth chillout and lounge tunes.
- Making a concerted effort to call my family and best friends on the phone to tell them that I miss them and love them very much. The art of long, rambling phone conversations must live on.
- Finding out where the best dark chocolate is located in the world and dreaming of those places in my sleep. If it’s less than 85% dark let’s not talk.
- Reading books on Buddhism and living a mindful life. It passes by so quickly so let’s make it a good one!
- Figuring out how to randomly interject emoticons into online conversations.
- Taking public transportation in large cities. Tokyo’s rail system is the tops.
- Walking nowhere in particular.
Did you know Automattic is hiring? We want people who are willing to work hard, share their ideas, learn from their colleagues, take initiative to get things done without being told, and those who aren’t afraid to ask questions. Think you fit the bill? Work with us.
In some parts around the world, this Sunday is dedicated to the mothers out there. For Mother’s Day, we’ve rounded up sites on motherhood, parenting, and family. On WordPress.com, you’ll discover mothers on all paths: new moms, stay-at-home-moms, single moms, mothers who are full-time writers, and more. (Even mommy men, as you’ll see below.)
We especially want to highlight bloggers with unique perspectives and thoughtful commentary, as well as collaborative blogs with multiple contributors. So, we hope you enjoy this sampling of sites in honor of this special day.
Creative nonfiction writer Andrea Badgley lives with her husband and two children in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia. In the past, she’s caught our eye with thoughtful posts on both family and the writing life: a piece on putting food on the table, and a post on revisiting her childhood diaries. Her blog is a delight: lovely musings on motherhood and parenting, and lighthearted pieces, too (be sure to check her humor category).
On her About page, Andrea says her mother once told her to never ever stop writing — good advice, mom! — and we’re glad to see her reflections on WordPress.com. Her voice is strong, yet quiet and eloquent; follow along and read how she balances all the things that life throws at her.
On Avital Norman Nathman’s blog, The Mamafesto, motherhood and feminism collide. The writer, mother, and former high school teacher writes provoking, intelligent posts on a number of topics, from gender and media to activism and reproductive rights.
In a recent response to a Huffington Post article about a mother who posted pictures of her six-year-old cross-dressing son on Facebook, she writes:
Maybe – and just hear me out – instead of suggesting that we *don’t* share these pictures over fear that it will damage our children somehow, we actually share more of them in hopes of normalizing and accepting these types of things.
Being a “pink boy” doesn’t have to mean anything beyond being a boy who happens to love pink.
We enjoy following the commentary and personal writing on her blog — and, whether you agree or disagree, you’ll appreciate that she asks questions that make her readers think. We also like that she showcases her freelance work on another WordPress.com site using the portfolio-style theme Hatch; if you dig her blog posts, be sure to poke around her other projects.
Essayist and fiction writer Kristen Hansen Brakeman is a busy writer and mother — she’s got her hands in numerous cookie jars: a WordPress.com blog of sharp, often hilarious writing; her work as a production supervisor on TV variety shows; and her book projects — she’s currently seeking representation for an essay collection and a humorous fantasy for kids.
In addition to exploring topics of aging (check out her popular post on the dreaded word “ma’am”), family, and other subjects with her dose of humor, she writes about life in the Sandwich Generation: raising three daughters while taking care of an aging mother.
Stay-at-home dad, writer, and “mommy man” Jerry Mahoney lives with his boyfriend, Drew, and their two twins (who were conceived via gestational surrogate, with eggs provided by Drew’s sister, Susie). On his blog, he writes about issues of gay parenting and being a stay-at-home dad (consider his post on “dadscimination,” his thoughts on whether kids deserve a mom, or commentary on an episode of Modern Family).
There’s lots of stuff to read here, so if you don’t know where to start, visit his “Best O’Blog” page, or read more about his unique story in his Modern Love essay, “Mom/Not Mom/Aunt,” in the New York Times.
Spilled Milk is a collaborative blog featuring photography collections by 19 mothers around the globe. Each week, a new theme prompts one of the contributors to reflect on parenthood and “the complexity and beauty that comes with raising our kids.” The site design is minimal and elegant, and the bloggers use tiled galleries to display sets of gorgeous images.
Check out the recent contributions that interpret the themes of “Experience,” “Mess,” and “Meal.” The themes are broad, allowing each photographer to get creative with snapshots and compile personal yet cohesive collections of what it means to be a mother, wife, and observer of the fleeting, intimate, and precious moments of our lives.
More collaborative blogs
Mothers With Cancer is a group blog of 20 mothers with cancer. Some of these women have been in remission for years, while others are newly diagnosed or are battling a new recurrence. Off the Merry-Go-Round is a space for discussion and inspiration for six women who have chosen their families over full-time careers. Also, Peanut Butter on the Keyboard is a blog where parenting and publishing intersect, led by a group of mothers who also happen to be romance authors.
And more: a mix of moms on WordPress.com
We love the variety — and fun and fitting blog names — of sites focused on motherhood:
This week’s three selections address some of our favorite topics: reading and writing. If you’re looking for inspiring and thought-provoking posts, you’re in luck. From the hunger that develops when a reader can’t find the time to read, to the power of the dictionary and your own memories, we’ve got something for everyone.
I miss the feel of bound paper between my fingers.
At daybreak, my quiet commute, punctuated by the flipflipflip of pages, chapters, worlds.
At nightfall, crisp, cool sheets, and the sweet scent of sleep. My heavy eyelids and my frantic panic to read just one more (just one more) paragraph, before giving in to rest.
After a hectic month cut into her reading time, Vanessa at Rant and Roll succinctly and beautifully describes longing for the written word. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Occupied with our other pursuits, some of them creative, some likely not, we often find ourselves unable to carve out time to settle into a good book. Vanessa’s post will inspire you to do so. (And as an added bonus, she includes a short video of the incomparable, funny, and always charmingly self-effacing Ray Bradbury that is well worth your time.)
… as far as a conventional desk dictionary is concerned, I haven’t used one in a long time. My vocabulary is more than adequate for the kind of fiction I’m writing, and whenever I have to check a definition just to be on the safe side, there are plenty of online resources that I can consult with ease. So although I have plenty of other reference books, I just never saw the need for Webster’s.
But I was wrong.
If you’re a writer (and there’s a good chance you are, after all), this is a must-read post. Author Alec Nevala-Lee, on his blog of the same name, explores the power of dictionaries in the writing process. Using a New Yorker article by creative nonfiction pioneer John McPhee as a jumping-off point, Alec dives into his own dictionary-related history. He comes out changed, with a new appreciation for that most dependable of reference books. Check out his post and we bet the same happens to you.
Our time machines can exist in many forms, the memories of others, books, video, and the landscapes in which we live. We take all of this data, and what exists within our own minds, and put these fragments together like a puzzle, negotiating the connections and determining their importance. What results is a narrative we can repeat, a story that is much less about the past than it is about the future.
We are constantly creating and recreating our narratives of identity, cultivating a sense of who we are and where we fit within our cultural contexts. We want to understand ourselves, and perhaps even more so, to be understood by others. I suspect our compulsion to record and save and archive everything arises from this keen desire to narrate our story to others, and find connection.
In this thoughtful post, Michelle from the blog Play looks at how our memories interact with and help create our art. Touching on everything from writing to psychology to pop culture, Michelle explores the hard questions that plague those trying to accurately portray their own realities. What is the absolute truth about your past? Just how reliable are those memories you’re writing about? Michelle tackles all this and more here, in an excellent example of long-form writing.
Did you read something in the Reader that you think is Freshly Pressed material? Feel free to leave us a link, or tweet us @freshly_pressed.
For more inspiration, check out our writing challenges, photo challenges, and other blogging tips at The Daily Post; visit our Recommended Blogs; and browse the most popular topics in the Reader. For editorial guidelines for Freshly Pressed, read: So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.
Theme Thursday is here, and I’m excited to announce the three fantastic new themes we’ve wrangled for you this week.
Handmade is a beautiful retro-styled blogging theme for foodies and crafters, designed with love by the folks at Obox Themes. Focusing on an amazing attention to detail and gorgeous typography, everything in Handmade has had hours of attention poured into it. Tender, loving care would be an understatement. Handmade can be trusted to display your gallery and blog posts in the best way possible on a small screen. It works well across all screens whether that be tablet, PC or even mobile.
Read more about Handmade on the Theme Showcase, or test drive it for yourself by going to Appearance → Themes in your Dashboard.
Untitled is a beautiful free theme for showcasing your photos and videos. Designed by one of our own — the talented Nate Schaumburg — Untitled’s features include a full-width front page slider, support for post formats, and a mini carousel that appears on single pages.
Read more about Untitled on the Theme Showcase, or test drive it for yourself by going to Appearance → Themes in your Dashboard.
Finally, I’d like to announce — not on a whim — our third theme of the day, On a Whim. Designed by Meagan Fisher, On a Whim is a bold and colorful premium blogging theme, with a touch of whimsy. Its features include support for several post formats, links to social networking profiles, and an optional second navigation menu in the footer.
Read more about On a Whim on the Theme Showcase, or test drive it for yourself by going to Appearance → Themes in your Dashboard.
If you’ve ever had a question about WordPress.com, chances are you’ve visited our Community Support Forums. Forums are a great place to search for solutions and get answers. While our Happiness Engineers help out in these forums, WordPress.com enthusiasts — people who are passionate about WordPress.com and helping fellow users — provide the majority of answers.
We’ve interviewed forum volunteers Sergio Ortega (airodyssey), Mike Brough (auxclass), and Tess Warn (1tess). Today, we’re excited to introduce another prolific volunteer: Lorraine Murphy (raincoaster). We chatted with her about how she got involved in the forums, as well as her tips for getting and providing great support.
You’ve been blogging at raincoaster.com since 2006 and write for many other blogs. Tell us how you got started on the web, your blogging, and why you chose WordPress.com.
At the turn of the century, I was at home — unemployed — trying to build a freelance business writing and desktop publishing career, while struggling with an undiagnosed illness. I couldn’t go out much, yet wanted to socialize. I knew there were forums and a social life to be found online, so I went to find them. And boy, did I ever.
I joined actor Viggo Mortensen’s fan base, and six weeks later the other members pooled their funds to fly me out to New York to meet him. These women had no idea who I was, but they wanted me to have that experience, which I couldn’t afford. I couldn’t help but be moved by that. Suddenly, it seemed to me that yes, the world may be full of strangers, but no, not all of them are hostile. Getting online changed my worldview.
I delved deeper into the online life, learning how to use a blog as practice for my writing career. I realized everything I owned had come to me thanks to my engagement online, and if the web could do that for me, I could do that for other people.
I launched my business raincoaster media, using transformative social media to bring about positive change in individuals and organizations. One of my students, a man who has lived at homeless shelters for 17 years and uses his blog as a portfolio for his poetry, was recently published in Geist, Canada’s premier literary magazine. Another, April Smith of AHAMedia.ca, has started a media business in Vancouver. She’s been profiled on the BBC three times, and is more famous than I’ll ever be. That’s how you know you’ve really empowered your students — when they surpass you.
I came to WordPress.com after I lost 400,000 words on my first blog, when the Diary-X service went down with no backups. I searched for the most secure, turnkey system I could find; everyone I trusted suggested WordPress, and WordPress.com in particular — they knew I didn’t want to get “under the hood” and tinker.
I got my first big break from Manolo, a famous shoe blogger and hilarious fashion writer at Shoeblogs.com. I started writing for his parenting blog years ago, and I still make fun of celebrities on Ayyyy.com and occasionally blog at Manolofood.com.
I’m also writing for the DailyDot.com, focusing on Anonymous, WikiLeaks, and hacktivism in general. I love shining a light on people working to make the world a better place. It’s important to keep writing and raising awareness.
What’s the story behind the “raincoaster” nickname and the “49 degrees latitude, 360 degrees attitude” motto?
Until recently, I lived on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, pretty much the roughest place in Canada: the average life expectancy is 42 years and change. It rains all the time there — it’s a very noir place — and raincoaster just came to me one day. It also makes a nice nickname for someone named Lorraine. As for my motto? I’m a smartass, and I love poetry and puns, so it sort of came to me one day. It fits.
How did you first get involved in WordPress.com forums?
I was confused about the difference between WordPress.com and .org, between the forum and the support docs, and between staff (Happiness Engineers) and volunteers. I thought I could do a solid job volunteering in the forums and explaining the features of WordPress.com to users. Volunteers Timethief and Doctor Mike were kind enough to guide me back to the shallows when I got in over my depth, but very soon I found that I could answer people’s questions.
You’ve posted over 60,000 replies in the WordPress.com forums since 2006. Thank you for your support! What types of questions do you like helping users with, and what do you find the most rewarding about contributing?
I like answering someone’s first question the most. People are often shocked by how fast they get an answer, how clear it is, and how they can put the solution to work right away; they’re very grateful, and it’s wonderful to see. The next best thing is when people who’ve asked questions in the past come to the forums and start answering questions themselves.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your volunteer experience in the forums?
Meaningful, strong relationships can be forged over mundane, repetitive questions about domain mapping. Really, my forum experience at WordPress.com shows that humans are, even in the midst of technology, fundamentally human.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get involved in the forums?
READ. Read everything. Once you think you know everything, go to the forums every day and scroll down the thread titles. If one issue stands out as having too many replies, or is a topic you don’t know the answer to, read it. Once you can scroll down an entire page and know all the answers without opening the threads, you can start answering things.
Thank you, Lorraine, for your WordPress.com community support and for taking the time to answer our questions.
Remember, forums are there for the community — this means you. If you have a question, search the forums to find the answer. If you’re knowledgeable about WordPress.com, find an unreplied thread — maybe you’ll be able to help a fellow user.
Customizing your blog’s theme is one way to show off what makes you you. Young adult novelist Nova Ren Suma does a beautiful job of this at distraction no. 99, using both free and premium options to make Sight her own. (Once inspired, you can get busy customizing your own blog!)
To start, here are Sight and distraction no. 99, side by side:
Nova’s customization makes a big splash
As a professional writer, Nova’s blog connects her to both her readers and fellow writers. She sets the tone right away, by using a custom header and custom background. Nova also uses two of Sight’s most compelling options to great effect: the featured image slider and both of the available custom menus.
Nova’s custom header spells out clearly that you’re reading the blog of a young adult author. The bold, clean black/white/red color scheme and overall look complements her background nicely:
Nova’s chosen “Dreaming of Stardust” as her custom background, giving an ethereal look to the blog that mimics the feeling of her books’ covers. Think about how your own background and header play off of each other. Together, do they create a look that represents your personality?
Next, Nova uses Sight’s image slider option, allowing her to present the content she most wants readers to encounter, in a professional, magazine-like way. This is an easy way to add movement to Sight, and is a snap to deploy. Nova simply marked the posts as “sticky,” and made sure each one had a featured image. Sight will display up to 30 of your latest sticky posts this way, giving you lots of flexibility.
Nova also uses multiple custom menus. Notice the two menus in the header photo above? There’s the horizontal one running underneath the header, which is her blog’s primary navigation. But she’s also chosen to use the secondary menu option in the header itself, right up near the search bar. Here Nova’s added some custom links, using this high-profile spot to draw your attention to her personal website, as well as offer more information on two of her books:
A sidebar that just won’t stop
Nova shares information on herself, her work, her book reviews, her appearances, and more, carving out room in the sidebar to keep all of this important stuff in one place.
Nova’s About.me widget makes a strong impression. Notice how effective it is, providing a quick bio and multiple platforms for following and interacting with Nova. You’ll also see a text widget below it, sharing her “upcoming appearances.”
At the very top of her sidebar, Nova showcases her most recently published book with an image widget that links to her personal website using a photo of the cover. Just underneath this, she cleverly uses a text widget to provide a summary of the book’s plot, along with several quotes from book reviews.
A final point about Nova’s sidebar: she’s chosen the order of her widgets with care. This isn’t some hodgepodge mix. She’s got her most vital stuff — her recent book, her appearances, herself — right up top, where you can’t miss them. Nova employs lots of other widgets as you scroll down her sidebar (recent posts, recent comments, Twitter, and a tag cloud, to name a few), but it’s no accident they are where they are.
Consider your intended outcomes with your own blog. What’s important to you? What do you want people to see first? As you think about which widgets to use to pull off your vision, don’t forget to spend some time on their order, too.
Want more help exploring all the possibilities in widgets? Try this trio of posts from The Daily Post:
All the sweet customization goodies
Finally, Nova adds one more layer of customization to her blog with custom fonts and custom colors, as part of the Custom Design upgrade. For just $30 a year, she’s able to pick fonts that are different for each part of her site, but work together overall for a consistent look. And with the custom colors she’s chosen, her entire site is tied together, top to bottom.
distraction no. 99′s custom fonts:
distraction no. 99′s custom colors, with a snippet of her background:
WordPress makes it easy for you to play around with different custom font and color options, before you even decide to purchase the upgrade. Check out these two great articles to learn how, and to see more examples of blogs using custom fonts and colors: