Write more. Paint more. Photograph more.
Do something amazing. Go down a different path.
New year’s resolutions — you might make ‘em, or you may think they’re trite and a waste of time. Whatever the case, you’re here, aren’t you? Exploring WordPress.com, contemplating your next blog post, and scheming up 2014. We closed out 2013 with a showcase of year-long, daily, and weekly projects, so let’s brainstorm ways, big and small, to get your work out into the world in 2014.
Photographer and writer Stephanie Dandan at Infinite Satori sets off for Asia soon to work on a photo storybook called The Wanderers. Traveling solo, Stephanie will meet other explorers on her journey and tell their stories. She lays out her project on Kickstarter, and its design aesthetic — and her nomadic and adventurous spirit — echo the work she publishes on her blog.
But thinking big doesn’t mean you have to hop across oceans to take on something new. Writer and reader Andrea Badgley sets off on a literary journey: she launched Andrea Reads America, in which she plans to read three books set in each state of the US (plus the District of Columbia), and written by male, female, and non-Caucasian authors.
Consider small goals, too, which help you on your journey to where you’d like to be. Stay motivated or beat writer’s block with manageable, byte-sized tasks:
- Establish a quick feature: a weekly post (or more frequent, if you want) meant to be short and sweet. If your theme supports post formats, use a specific format (like an aside, quote, or image) to distinguish this feature from other posts. From quotes of the day to single photos submitted to weekly photo challenges, the regularity and simplicity of smaller tasks might be what you need to keep your momentum.
- Use daily prompts to jumpstart your thoughts, or download our 365 Writing Prompts ebook. (For responses that you choose not to publish, we recommend leaving abandoned drafts in your dashboard, as you never know when these ideas become ripe).
- Still not sure what to write? Diversify your content. Curate your favorite reads and notable finds. Use the community around you for inspiration.
Join a blogging event — or launch your own
Participate in recurring events hosted by fellow bloggers, from photography and travel to fashion and writing. While we’re at it, check out Zero to Hero, WordPress.com’s January blogging challenge.
Or, why not create your own for 2014? Over the holidays, we mentioned Linda Silvestri’s fun and festive sketch project, in which she established HoHoDooDa (Holiday Doodle a Day). From recipe challenges hosted by food bloggers to reading clubs led by bibliophiles, consider your own event — then submit it to the blog listings page so others can join.
Ask people what they want
Curious about what your visitors want to read, or need advice on how to develop your characters? Ask ‘em. You’ve got the tools in your dashboard to do this, from polls to contact forms.
Insert a poll into a post or page to ask questions and get input. Bloggers use polls to meet their specific needs — and have used them creatively for collaborative, crowd-sourced storytelling, too. You can also insert a contact form to a post or page, through which readers can get in touch privately (without having to give out your email address). You can gather a lot of information from contact forms and personalize them as you see fit. Encourage modern-day letters to the editor. Urge your readers for detailed critical feedback on your latest essay or chapter-in-progress. Use these tools in ways that work for you.
Strategize for world domination
If the heading above got your attention, maybe you’re ready to expand your reach. Your blog is just one platform to shape your online presence. To build your network (and personal brand), reach out to people whose work you respect and ask to collaborate. Contribute a guest post elsewhere (bloggers set up submission pages in different ways — check out Thoughts of a Lunatic or A Manic World for examples), or widen your circle and invite guest bloggers to your own site.
Link your blog to your social media accounts like (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and more) with Publicize, which you can do in Settings ? Sharing in your dashboard. (We’ll publish a crash course on these tools next week, so stay tuned.) Also think about using social media strategically to best promote yourself and your work in a way that makes sense for you — take a look at these posts on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, which are good starting points.
Give your site a makeover
New year, new you, new blog: it might be the perfect time to give your site a refresh. Again, you can go big (switch your theme) or small (add a widget or change your custom header image). Find inspiration in these theme customizations . . .
- Elegant and sophisticated Forever.
- Popular and tried-and-true themes like Coraline and Pilcrow.
- Playful and lighthearted Koi.
- Modern portfolio-style Imbalance 2.
. . . as well as these showcases for more ideas:
- Cool blogs using custom fonts.
- Special theme options you might not know about.
- Adding image widgets to add color to your sidebar.
- Widgets and tools to build your community.
Now, over to you: what’s in store for you — and your blog — in 2014?
Filed under: Better Blogging, WordPress.com