Dotcom Design in San Diego, May 2018

Remember how I said I was poised at the tip-top of the proverbial roller coaster a few weeks ago?

Well, I’m finally at the bottom of the ride. I came home from our meetup on Sunday afternoon and promptly crashed for several hours of much-needed sleep. Thankfully I had the foresight to take a couple days off to recover. Monday was spent in a time-zone-befuddled daze, and yesterday was spent in Bangor for appointments.

…okay, maybe I’m not entirely at the bottom of the ride, but I’m getting there.

Most of the meetup itself was spent planning and thinking and brainstorming, which explains the relative lack of pictures this trip. Sticky notes lose their visual appeal after one or two photos.

The kids struggled with my absence more than usual, and I’m feeling the sharp divide between work and motherhood. Pulled in multiple directions, it’s hard to know if I’m doing enough on either front. But it was good to spend time getting to know my team, and I enjoyed working against the backdrop of ocean air and spring sun.

I met up with my aunt and cousins for lunch on my last day, and a late flight out afforded me the chance to have some alone time in the city. I wandered around the San Diego Zoo, taking pictures of the animals so I could share them with the kids.

All in all, a successful meetup, but I’m glad to be home!

“How can I get more views to my blog?”

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At work, we were recently asked to examine a common problem among bloggers of all types: how to get more views.

As someone who has been blogging since before it was called “blogging”, web traffic is still a bit of a black box to me. Any success I’ve had has been the result of persistence and longevity, and I’ll admit to feeling like an imposter writing about the subject.

That said, looking at past traffic stats for my personal blog, I’ve picked out some of the things that have helped increase my readership over time. Here’s what I recommend based on what I’ve learned:

  • Post quality content, frequently. I notice I get more traffic during months where I blog at least once a week, and I try to make at least one new post each month, minimum.

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  • Offer freebies. Wallpapers, themes, step-by-step tutorials, code, or a coupon; make the reader feel they’re getting something tangible for their time. The most popular posts for any of my blogs are how-to guides. For example, one of my most popular recent posts is a comparison of print-on-demand services I’ve used, with the intent of helping other potential print-on-demand customers.

  • Get involved in an existing community centered around your topic of interest. For example, when I wanted to get into WordPress themes, I joined the Theme Review Team. When I wanted to promote my fanfic, I started interacting with more fan blogs on Tumblr. This allowed me to make new friends and connections, which leads me to…

  • You get what you give. Promoting others’ work can often help draw attention to yours (and it’s just plain nice!) Ask to interview someone who works in a related field and post the interview on your blog, or write a review of a piece of work you admire. I wrote a brief post highlighting the artists I chose for my fan art wall project; it felt good to spread the word about other fan artists, and the post got several views from the fan community.

  • Use word of mouth. Ask your friends and family to have your back. A genuine request for help is usually answered favorably, and your friends may have connections you didn’t know about.

  • Promote your work.. This is obvious, but don’t be shy about promoting yourself via email, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, or other relevant social networks. Utilize your blog’s sharing tools (tips: Jetpack | WordPress.com) to cross-post to different audiences for more views. An example tweet from my blog:

https://twitter.com/sixhours/status/950765782945976321

  • Remember, quality over quantity. Views are only one metric of success. Comments, sales, connections, and a sense of community; all of these things have value and contribute to the long-term picture.

Finally, swarms of views rarely happen overnight. Be genuine, write quality content that interests you, connect with others, and you’re sure to find your audience grows bit by bit.


This was cross-posted to A8C Design Flow, one of our official Automattic Design team blogs. Check it out!

Automattic Grand Meetup, Whistler, BC

Where's Waldo? Credit to Donncha for the photo.

Where’s Waldo? Credit to Donncha for the photo.

What an amazing week.

I didn’t take as many photos as in past years; I blame Pokémon and soaking in the experience rather than trying to capture it. But my friends and coworkers took lots of photos and I have plenty of memories to share.

I walked a 5k, I got not just one but two tattoos, I saw coyotes and beautiful mountain scenery, and painted my own version of said scenery. The afterparty included tasty drinks and dancing. There were lots of meetings (so many meetings) and lunches and dinners and discussion, and now my head is full and I want to sleep for a week.

New Office Smell

Our house has been a veritable hive of activity lately. We’re doing a lot of work on it this summer, and by “we”, I mean contractors, of course, because I’m barely competent with a drill.

The first big project is mostly done, and that’s our new office!

First, some “before” shots for context:

This is the second floor of the oldest part of our house. When I was a kid, it had a staircase in the middle, leading down to the living/dining/kitchen areas, and served as my parents’ bedroom and my brothers’ and my nursery. Eventually my parents moved their bedroom to a newer part of the house, the staircase was closed and replaced with a new one in a different location, and the upstairs became a storage room and makeshift guest bedroom.

By the time we moved in, it was the de-facto place for all those odds and ends my parents didn’t know what to do with, plus all the stuff we moved that was supposed to go to the office. We planned to renovate sooner, but the costs of moving, taking a loss on our condo, and Gwen’s hospital bills set us back.

Three years later, we hired a family friend to start bringing the space back to life. It needed a new ceiling, trim, paint, and carpet…and to have all our junk cleaned out of it and sorted. Mom took care of most of her stuff, and we left the contracting work to a pro. Sorting everything was an exercise in nostalgia; even though I did a big purge before we moved, there were still a lot of things I didn’t miss in the three years they sat up here, unused. A lot of stuff was donated.

I can’t reiterate how nice it is having a dedicated workspace. I haven’t had an “office” that was truly my own since before Ellie was born, so having the freedom and space to do what I want with space is a thrill. And having worked here for a couple weeks, I’m surprised I managed as well as I did at the kitchen table; there are still interruptions, of course, and always will be while the kids are small, but it’s great having a place to escape to.

And the timing worked out perfectly, because now the front wall of the house is being redone, so the kitchen, dining, and living rooms are a mess! The office has become my sanctuary amongst the chaos.

An “Ooh, shiny” moment

One of the coolest perks of being a four-year Automattician is a new ColorWare laptop with a custom cut WordPress logo on the cover.

I opted for a glossy red-orange-almost-pinkish color called “Spicy” and was not disappointed. This is definitely the most beautiful computer I have ever laid eyes on. Thanks, Automattic!

Now someone needs to explain how I’m supposed to get any work done when all I want to do is pet the shiny cover…