Updates and Plans for Blogging and Coding

After a few months, I’m back with more blogging tips and coding snippets for the Twenty Twenty Theme. Here are the updates you’ll find.

Hey there! Missed me much? I did. Here’s a quick summary of what I’ve been doing since my last post, a few updates and what’s coming next for this blog.

  • RSS feed for WordPress with Mailchimp
  • Designing images
  • Featured images for social media
  • Cool Plugins
  • Additions to Twenty Twenty Theme
  • Additions to Twenty Twenty One Theme
  • Finding new ways to schedule on social media
  • Making my nkotb.blog grow!

“Are You Still Alive?” A Note on WP, RSS Feeds and Mailchimp

If you received this post through my mailing list, you may have noticed it didn’t begin with an “are you still alive?” (I loved that inside joke) and also that it looks like an RSS feed one reads on… well, an RSS Feed, or through the WordPress reader! That is because I have set up Mailchimp to grab my posts from WordPress and notify my readers.

Ergo: I don’t need to create an email campaign every time I publish a new post, and consequently I have some extra time to play with my cats. Why didn’t I do it before, after years of blogging? I’ll get on to it on a post.

What matters today is that linking WordPress’ RSS feed with Mailchimp is a great feature, but it needs a little bit of coding because:

  1. the WordPress RSS feed doesn’t grab the featured image of our post by default;
  2. the snippet from WP Beginner – which people are copying and pasting all around the blogsphere – doesn’t work (even with some tweaks)

So, stretch your fingers because we’re gonna have some fun with it! And, please know I will always wonder if you’re still alive, with all my heart.

Designing is My Bitch! (A Puppie…, But Still)

design with Canva, easy and free

One of the things I used to struggle a lot was with finding the right image for a post and, moreover, with designing one from scratch. As I mentioned in the post about changing the Hex Colors for the Twenty Twenty Theme, I used to be able to match black with white only (and there are not even colors!)

BTW, did you know that? Black and white are shades; black is the absence of light, and white…, well, do the math. Focus, Laly!

Anyways, sick of losing time with my images I upgraded my Canva account and “I saw the light.” It is not only a great platform to design media (images and videos, with music!) with gorgeous templates, but it also has awesome tutorials (free ones!); I watched one that lasts 20 minutes or so and now I feel I’m a pro. Thus, a post (or page in my Blogging Toolkit) will be published asap.

PS: the free version is great, but the pro is game changing; seriously.

Featured Images for Social Media, and Clickable Ones

featured clickable images on social media

Featured Images: What Size Should I Use?

I wanted to spice things up a little bit at nkotb.blog, so I started creating squared featured images; I thought, “With Yoast (free version), I can assign another rectangular version for social media and that will work just fine.” Well… it didn’t.

On “How to Make Featured Images, for the Twenty Twenty Theme, Look Good on Social Media,” I showed you a size that works great and what you need to bear in mind for the differences you’ll see while sharing on Twitter and Facebook.

What’s the problem? When I share a post from nkotb.blog on Twitter – with its squared featured images – Twitter picks up this little one instead of the one I assigned through Yoast. Why? There’s a long explanation for that… which I won’t get into right now.

That leaded me to start doing something I never had to do: social media cards

Re Sharing Posts on Social Media With Another Image: Social Media Cards

I always wanted to re share my posts with another image (not the featured one) so my followers wouldn’t get sick of seeing the same thing on their timelines/walls; but if one does so by uploading that image – to any social network – with the link we want to promote, people will mostly click on the image and not on the link. 

Am I going to fast? Think about writing a tweet to promote one post. For instance:

  • You write your message in a tweet, “I just wrote this masterpiece. Check it out 👉🏻 linktothemasterpiece
  • And you add an image, a person amazed while reading from a tablet

That’s not the best way to go because people will click on the image to expand it, and they won’t click on the link. All clear now? Awesome. Moving on!

So, I was looking for “clickable image, social cards;” Twitter has a feature to do it with “Twitter Cards” (with a business account, which is free) but Facebook doesn’t. Somehow I discovered a platform called “Any Image” that does the trick… I even payed for the pro version and I regret it to this day. Another post for this? You got it. 

Quick advance on that post: The solution I took for nkotb.blog, is: 1) to create a rectangular image for Facebook and add it to the post with YOAST; 2) use that image to create a Card on Twitter. These images are 1200×628.

Must Have / Try Plugins for WordPress

There are a few plugins I started using and which are helping me a lot:

  • “Site Kit, by Google,” to manage Google Analytics, Ad Sense and the console in one place: our very own WordPress dashboard; hashtag super awesome!
  • “Download After Email, by MK-Scripts,” to offer freebies while increasing my mailing list (best plugin in its kind I’ve tried);

I’ll write about this at the WordPress Toolkit / Plugins, so… you may want to subscribe for this 😏

  • “BBpress,” to create a forum for my readers. It’s is a nice free option for those who want to build a private community, but it was insane to find out how to make it look good with the Twenty Twenty Theme; a post about this, is also in the schedule. (btw, a child theme is needed for this)
  • Last but not least, I switched from “WP Super Cache” to “WP Optimize” (this is a last minute addition to this post… I’ll get into detail, probably on the firsts upcoming posts)

New Additions to the Twenty Twenty Theme

I tweaked the Twenty Twenty Theme a lot; I now have for instance: 

  • the featured image on my posts are in a flex div with social share icons to its right
  • on the top meta of the posts: my gravatar plus links to my social networks;
  • sidebars on the right and left of the content;
  • horizontal widget areas above the footer;
  • a link to “leave a comment” way before the comment area;
  • and … etc.

I’ll write posts about all of that, as I’ll work on updating the previous posts. For instance: since the WordPress 5.4 update, the “Latest Post” block has now the option to display featured images; then, they added the possibility to make them clickable. Hashtag awesome.

Customizing the Twenty Twenty One Theme

I started doing so, but it is not as flexible as the Twenty Twenty Theme; and honestly, I believe if we want to learn how to code is better to stick with one theme, make the most of it and then dig into another. After a year, I am still learning about the Twenty Twenty Theme and its coding is such a beauty that it makes it fun and easy to learn.

Still, I’ll create another tag to share what I’ve done so far with the “Twenty Twenty One” Theme.

New Ways To Schedule on Social Media

I used Hootsuite for a long time; the free version allows us to schedule on two social accounts (it used to offer three, until last month) and the pro version allows to use up to ten (10) accounts; but, it’s not worth it anymore, for many reasons:

  • with Twitter Business, we can schedule for free, and its very simple and easy to use;
  • Facebook has upgraded its game and now allows us to schedule for Facebook and Instagram.

To keep track of what I have scheduled, I simply created spreadsheets on Excel for all my blogs and its social accounts. Would you like a template? It’s coming asap!

How to Make a Blog Grow

I won’t steal much time from you on this, even though I’ll go deeper into this topic eventually. What I suggest you to bear in mind is that:

  • up to an 80% (that’s a lot) of the traffic to our blogs come from search engines; so don’t waste your time publishing on social media like a maniac and learn how to optimize your posts for SEO; this is what matters.
  • on social media: reply to every single comment you receive; post always at the same time.

And that’s pretty much it! With those two things in mind, I increased my income three times in a few months (probably four.) It is that simple. Don’t go gaga searching for magical tutorials on this.

And…, I believe that sums it up; at least for now. I’ll be working on updating the posts, broken links and the Toolkits (which are a mess right now) 

New Posts on coding will be published every Tuesday, as I used to do; and hopefully I’ll post about blogging on Thursdays.

See you soon! I’m very happy to be back.

Wear a mask, stay safe and alive! 💞

Any thoughts?