Background Sunset Photo Image

Background Sunset Photo Image

In my Blogging 201 course on Intermediate Customization, we have been experimenting with various background colors, images, and fonts for our sites. Although I had selected a nice background color several days ago that seemed to look pretty good, I thought I would check out whether background images might be worthwhile.

Today I thought I might try using the same original sunset photo that was cropped for my custom header. I thought I would see how it works, and whether readers have any comments. Then I will probably explore some different font combinations to see whether I like them any better than the current ones (PT Sans and Arimo).

Color Palette & Font Changes

I’m currently participating in the Blogging University course Blogging 201: Intermediate Customization. Our Day 1 assignment was to explore themes and experiment with various options on how we might improve our blog.

I looked at quite a few and previewed them with the WordPress Customizer to see how they affected everything. Although I got a better appreciation of different options, including some that might have some potential. However, many of them just didn’t have the combination of features that I currently have in the Misty Lake theme that I have been using since I started my blog last year. Many of the themes that I previewed caused problems with some of my pages, and would probably require substantial adjustments.

So I decided to explore what options I might have within my existing Misty Lake them, and I settled on making some color palette and font changes.  So I now have a different background for my site and the colors for colors, links, etc. have been changed. Also I chose a Google font called Arimo for my text, and complemented that with PT Sans for headings; I made them both large size so that my site might be more readable since I thought the normal size might possibly be too small for some readers. Also I made the headings bold so they stand out more.

Blog_Misty_Lake_Background_anda_Colors          Blog_Misty_Lake_Fonts

I thought I would try this for a while, and see if I like it. Also, I would certainly appreciate any feedback from my readers. Do you like the changes? What do you like about it? Is this a good choice for color palette and fonts? Is this an improvement over the previous default theme? I will also be making other adjustments over the next several weeks, so bear with me during this experimentation. I’m trying to make it better, but please let me know if I have gone off the track.

1,000 Likes

1,000 Likes

Great news! I have reached another significant milestone. WordPress says that today I now have 1,000 Likes on my web site. Thanks for letting me know what you like. I’m glad that you’re enjoying the music, photos, and travel posts. It always helps to see that my blog is on track with its readers.

Currently, I have 1,034 Likes from 6,111 Views (17% Liked) by 3,455 Visitors (1.7 views/visit). I have created 547 Posts and 80 Pages, and received 294 Comments. There are 137 WordPress followers, 167 Email subscriptions, 22 following on Twitter, and 8 on Facebook. The most views per day was 74 on November 7, 2014.

I have really enjoyed my experience over the past 9 months since I started my blog on September 17, 2014. I reached 200 Likes on Nov 3 (first 2 months during Blogging 101), then 500 by Dec 15 (just 1 month during both Blogging 201, Photo 101, and Christmas music), and now 1000 (6 months later). It’s wonderful to meet so many interesting people whose blogs I get to read every day.

I have been preparing a series of posts which feature my recent Viking River Cruise on the Rhine and extended trip through Germany. I took almost 4,000 photos during our three weeks visiting so many interesting destinations. It has taken quite a while reviewing and organizing my photos, including selecting highlights for sharing in my blog. I am creating a photo web site as a better way to store and share my photos, and I will integrate that with my WordPress blog. I expect to begin daily posts starting in the next several days.

500 Posts

500 Posts

I passed another milestone now that I have created over 500 posts (and 76 pages) for my blog in just over 6 months since I started it during the Blogging 101 course. The majority so far have been about Music (422), followed by Photos (35) and Blog (35), then Travel (16), and finally Recipes (2).

My blog has about 3,000 visitors with over 5,100 views, almost 900 likes, and over 250 comments. There are 126 WordPress followers, 153 email subscribers, 19 on Twitter, and 8 for Facebook.

Thanks for visiting, reading, listening, and following.

5,000 Views

I passed another milestone with over 5,000 views. My blog has grown quite a bit since it was started only 6 months ago on September 17, 2014 during the Blogging 101 course.

I have created 488 posts and 76 pages with 2,901 visitors, 869 likes, and 245 comments. There are 124 WordPress followers, 151 email subscribers, 19 on Twitter, and 8 for Facebook.

Thanks for visiting, reading, listening, and following my blog.

Blog Goal Achievements – Feb 2015

Here’s a summary of milestone achievements for the Blog Goals that I established for February 2015 when I participated in Blogging 201 and Writing 201: Poetry.

1. Expand Readers and Traffic 

I have reached my target goals to expand readers and traffic with views, posts, likes, and comments. I had not set any goals for site visitors or email subscribers, but those have increased. Although improving, I came up short with followers on Wordpress Reader, as well as Twitter and Facebook social networks.

For each Target, here are the Goals with the Current statistics and amount Over (on Feb 28), as well as the starting Base count (on Feb 2), along with Growth % for the Increase (Current – Base) over the past month.

Target Goal Current Over Base Increase Growth %
Views 4,500 4,727 +227 3,955 +772 20
Posts 450 458 +8 383 +75 20
Likes 800 836 +36 715 +121 17
Comments 250 252 +2 216 +36 17
Visitors 2,669 +520 24
Subscribers 148 121 +27 22
Followers 150 120 -30 104 +16 15
Twitter 25 20 -5 10 +10 100
Facebook 15 8 -7 7 +1 14

Many music artists have favorited and/or retweeted my posts on Twitter during February. This includes  several replies with thanks and blog compliments, and those with an asterisk (*) are even following me: Michele McLaughlin*, Philip Wesley*, Fiona Joy*, Christine Brown*, Tim Glemser*, Doug Hammer*, Brad Jacobsen*, Vin Downes*, Ed Harris*, Joseph Akins, and Michael Logozar, as well as Austin Town Hall*, Texas Music Office*, and SXSWfm.

2. Extend Content

Also, I have successfully extended my blog’s content. Besides my Twitter activity and interactions, I have increased range and diversity beyond music with my poems from the Writing 201: Poetry workshop. I will continue to create additional posts with travel, photo, writing, and other blog topics that will interest more readers and realize the focus described on my About page.

Poetry

For Writing, I took the plunge and participated in the Writing 201: Poetry course so I could learn more about poetry. Although I considered this to be quite a stretch for me, the challenge interested me so I registered to give it a try. Actually, I was quite surprised that I composed six poems (Water, Journey, Trust, Animal, Fog, Hero) by the end of the two weeks; however, I still have four more to finish over the next several days (Fingers, Drawer, Landscape, and Future) since I got a little behind.

Photos

Regarding Photos, although I didn’t start participation in weekly photo challenges yet, I have been following them and intend to join them during March. I considered registering for Photography 101 again since I enjoyed it so much the first time, especially with all the community interaction. However I decided that I will involved in photo challenges instead, while also trying to follow the assignments as well.

3. Enhance Brand

Finally, I have enhanced my brand with the initial focus on site’s sidebar and menus. I reviewed my site for possible improvements and focused on overhauling my sidebar, where I removed many of the widgets that had been incrementally added over the past several months. Based on constructive reader feedback during my Blogging 201 refresher, I tried to simplify it as much as possible, and comments have been favorable about the site being much cleaner now.

I’m currently examining my site organization and menu structure for further refinements, where some updates are needed, redundancies eliminated, and general simplification. Reviewing blog statistics, as well as likes and comments, has helped with this analysis too. I still need to determine whether another blog title, tagline, and theme would be appropriate.

I have started efforts to provide renewed focus for older content, such as music and photos.

Music

With music, I created a series of Music Roundups by genre (Country, Americana, Pop, Folk, Indie, Alternative, Piano, etc.) with links to earlier music posts grouped by month since September when I started the blog.

Also, more recently I have just started creating Playlist posts for existing music artists on my web site such as George Strait and Tim McGraw, and will continue that during March. I’m already doing that for all new music posts with recent ones like Brandy Clark, The Band Perry, Rod Picott, Slaid Cleaves, Meiko, Stars, Lenka, Ruby the RabbitFoot, The Head and the Heart, The Aikiu, Family of the Year, Michele McLaughlin, Philip Wesley, Ed Harris, and Conspirare.

Over the next several months, I will be including more posts for Travel, Photos, Writing, and Recipes topics, as well as Music.

Thank you for helping me reach my goals.