November 2017 – 5 Ways to Rock a Blog Without Losing Your Cool

Thank you to all who came out for our November Meetup! It was a great success and everyone I talked to about it loved everything Sylvia had to say about blogging.


Sylvia Hubbard

Sylvia Hubbard is a Detroit author and founder of Motown Writers Network. She has published over 40 books on suspense romance and one book on Internet Marketing for Writers. She presented various tips and tricks on the basics of blogging, how to organize, monetize, and get content to keep your blog up and running for 365 days without driving yourself to distraction.


The Basics of Blogging

“Blogging is part of social media, you should engage.” – Sylvia Hubbard

The presentation started by going over the basics of a blog. A blog is a collection of regularly updated articles or stories on a website, sometimes written in an informal or conversational style as well as more formally or as a case study.

Why Blog?

A blog helps you establish authority, as well as creating opportunities for you and other people. By establihsing authority and blogging consistently you become a thought leader in your space, while helping other learn from you and your work. There are a lot of different ways and things you can blog about as well.

Different types of Blogs

The variety of different blog types help you to fit into the niche that you want. We went over a few different types:

  • Personal – Mommy Blogs, Cooking, Kids, Birdwatching, etc.
  • Corporate – Healthcare, Marketing, Web Design, Accessibility, etc.
  • By Genre – This could cover specific topics in each category. Mommy Blogs, Web Design, etc.
  • By Media Type – Video Blogs (YouTube), Photo Blogs (Flickr), Audio Blogs (Podcasts), etc.
  • Combination of Types – Sometimes people combine all of there stuff into one, and separate the categories, which works just as well. It also gives your users more insight on who you are as an individual, professionally and personally.

The web being what is is today, there are a variety of tools to help you get a blog up and running, most of the time for little to no cost.

Blogging Platforms

The blogging platform you choose matters. The short list of Blogging platforms that you are free to explore:,, Blogger, YouTube, Tumblr, Medium and More. Though our Meetup we are partial to WordPress, the other options out there work well in a variety of circumstances.

One of our leaders, Deborah, wrote a blog post on vs that has a great comparison of features.

Based on the presentation, Sylvia describes WordPress: is like an apartment. You can’t change the complete structure, or move everything around. But some things can be changed to your liking. is like a House. You are open to do anything you want. You can change the structure completely, make it look exactly like you want it to.

The platform you choose will depend on the content you want to put out, your audience, your preferences on how the platform works. You also want to take into account the must haves to gain and retain your audience.

Must Haves for a Blog

Whatever platform you choose, make sure that you give your users access to: Email Subscription, Feed-burner, and Sharing Tools. WordPress and Blogger have a widget for the various necessities.

If you want to do a blog about something you may have different types of content, using written words, spoken words or video. So you may use a combination of WordPress, Youtube and SoundCloud to host your blog posts. You should definitely strategize before getting to far ahead of yourself.

Strategy is Key – Organizing Your Thoughts

Your first step in anything is to plan, planning is a great habit to get into. I personally have a plan for the plan and a backup plan just in case. Sylvia suggests keeping a blogging journal and that you should set up an Editorial Calendar. Gather your ideas and make your decisions, the what, why and how.

What: Setting up any plan for anything is great.

  • What are you blogging about?
  • What is your plan?
  • What are your interests?
  • What are your goals? Present Goals? One Year Goals? Future Goals?

Why: Reasons for blogging.

  • Compare yourself to the competition.
  • Why should people buy from you? Read from you?
  • What should they care about your product or service?Do you have a product people want?
  • Why are you credible? Do you offer value or expertise?

How: Tailor a strategy.

  • How are you going to get new eyes on your content?
  • How will you get return visitors to buy/subscribe?
  • How will you generate drip income?

Once you have an answer to all of the above questions you can get started. Knowing what you want to blog about, why people should read your blog over the competitions and how you are going to get people coming back gives you a great backbone. After establishing that, work out your plan of attack and get going on your editorial calendar, plan of the next year of blogging with different types of content.

Types of Content for Your Blog

So overall you want to keep a theme for your blog and talk about your expertise and knowledge in the subject matter, but as mentioned before it can sometime spill into multiple niches.

Start with an introduction to the blog, tell the users about your story. Give the users the reasons why they should read your blog. Give the users a sense of what your pillar content and what they can expect to read on your blog with a variety of different ways to post.

Content + Consistency = Success

People say content is king, but consistency is queen and she wears the pants! – Sylvia Hubbard

Engage! Engage! Engage!

Posting Ideas – 52 Weeks in a Year

Each week you can post a few different ways that highlight your content. Sylvia showed us a different way to post every day of the week, users like consistency.

  • You can write 52 articles / quotes from your book / tag lines with explanations
  • You can make 52 videos (no more than a minute long)
  • You can take 52 pictures (high quality, no bathroom photos)
  • You can make 52 audio files or interviews with other authors (no more than 3 minutes long)
  • You can reuse evergreen material 52 times or reposts other authors resources
  • You can find 52 quotes
  • You can give 52 ways tips you’ve succeeded & failed at writing, publishing and marketing

Other Posting Ideas for Unique Traffic Increases

There are even more ways to post, these can specifically get you some unique traffic increases:

  • Collaboration – Two Heads are better than one, the sum is greater than the parts; you get the benefit of multiple author perspectives and appeal to more readers.
  • Strategic Alliances – Together you can response faster to market development and trends. You can easily develop a new combined strategy and share research or investment costs.
  • Guest Articles – You have the opportunity to get readership from the guest authors user base and vice versa. You bring in users that may not be typical to your blog.
  • Takeovers – Cross-over with different blog authors to take over there blog for a month. This way you get other bloggers traffic and the other blogger gets your traffic.
  • Linking – Definitely necessary to create the SEO that you need. You should link to links within your site and outside of your blog. Create material that people will link to, get that cross-pollination going.


Remember: do not babysit, bandwagon or boast. Don’t just write something to have a presence. Do not jump on every trend, especially if it does not relate to your readers.

Talk about the subject, platform or brand, but don’t sell too much. You want to give value, give resources and share other blogs in your brand.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Remember what you have done in the past to the best of your ability. Same as in like don’t make the same mistake twice. Be sure to evaluate your successes and failures and learn from them, then teach others, so thay don’t make the same mistakes. Learning and sharing is important for growth.

Don’t forget to keep to your goals that you set, develop new goals, hit them and exceed them. If you do not have relevant, consistant content and you are not engaging your audience you may not make it too far.

Content + Consistency = Success


Takeaways from May 2017 WordPress Q & A Workshop

At our May 2017 Q & A workshop, our WordPress experts answered questions about website performance, web hosting, styling content, setup and configuration, child themes, and plugins.

I joined Eric Malcolm, Andy Melichar, and Randy Walker in helping our members with their WordPress questions.

Before we broke out into small groups, we had a good discussion among our Metro Detroit WordPress members about performance, themes, and identifying the goal for your site.

Here are the top takeaways from the workshop: Continue reading “Takeaways from May 2017 WordPress Q & A Workshop”

Recap of March 2017 Meetup: Distributed, Working Remotely at Automattic

Our thanks to Howard Dodd for taking notes from our March 2017 meetup.

Two Things About WordPress

  • WordPress 4.7.3 was released last week. Get updated quickly if you’re not on automatic updates. It includes important security & maintenance upgrades.
  • Two-factor authentication service Clef is closing down. If you are using it, you must seek an alternative before June 6, 2017.

Distributed, Working Remotely at Automattic

Our presentation was given by member George Hotelling, JavaScript Wrangler at Automattic, the company behind hosted, Jetpack, WooCommerce, Akismet, and other online services.

George spoke about remote work at Autommatic, how employees around the world communicate with each other, and work together in teams. Here are highlights from his talk:

Why work remotely?

  • There is a much wider job market
  • Quality focus time becomes available for deep thought work.
  • Structured flexible time can be very beneficial to the family.
  • The forgone commute has huge benefits in studied measures of happiness. The equivalent of a 67% raise for a $60,000 per year employee.
  • Automattic’s corporate culture is that all of the employees are fully remote.

Disadvantages of Working Remotely

  • Discipline can be difficult. Many potential distractions exist.
  • You must be diligent and thorough with communication. Document processes and write out thoughts so that details can be communicated.
  • Social isolation – you need to take the initiative to be social and make it a priority.

attendees listening to George Hotelling

Types of Remote Companies

  • Fully Remote – Employees are all over the world. The different time zones need to be considered. Space, autonomy, and authority needs to be distributed to keep things moving.
  • Partially Remote – Usually involves an office where colleagues have occasional meetings. In this scenario it is important to take the initiative to attend the meetings that are relevant.

Where is Remote Work Done?

  • Home
  • Coworking space. This was discussed at length, with many members recommending coworking spaces throughout metro Detroit. Randy Walker graciously published a post with coworking spaces in and around metro Detroit.
  • Wherever!
  • Traveling, out of town, hotel rooms.
  • Even on the road (as a passenger)

Communication is Oxygen!

  • Slack – This is a chat program for office and day to day work. Communication is generally asynchronous.
  • Screenhero (owned by Slack): Collaborative screen sharing tool. An invitation is needed to obtain it. It is highly functional and recommended, with high screen resolution.
  • Google Hangouts / Skype / Zoom – Video chats. It’s very important to understand text vs. video vs. audio. Text is easy to misinterpret. It lacks tone and nuance that could be essential to making a point.
  • IRL – In Real Life! Two or three company meetups are planned each year. Distributed companies travel a lot to encourage bonding and team building
  • P2 Theme: that is much like a Twitter feed. It is generally left open all day and serves as Automattic’s watercooler conversation point. Hashtags can be used to start a conversation thread and it is searchable!
  • Note that emails are minimized. – P2’s are the focus. All of the conversations are dropped into a searchable database and becomes a warehouse of accumulated knowledge.

Everyone who starts at Automattic does frontline support. It is part of the corporate culture and a lot is learned from this exercise.

Thank you to Grand Circus and A2 Hosting for their sponsorship of our meetups!

snowy view of Woodward and Grand Circus Park, Central United Methodist Church in the background
Our view from our meetup venue, snowy view of downtown Detroit

February 2017 Q & A Workshop Notes

At our February 2017 Q & A Workshop, several of our experienced WordPress users, developers, and designers helped answer questions from other members about their sites, configuration, and setup.

Before we started the workshop, I shared three recent news updates about WordPress.

Three things to know about WordPress

  1. If you haven’t updated to version 4.7.2 already, do it ASAP. Over 1 million sites WordPress sites have been defaced
  2. Starting in March 2017, the ads on the commenting plugin Disqus will no longer be free to disable.
  3. Have you seen it? Gutenberg, the first prototype of the new WordPress editor, has been released. Check it out and give your feedback.

Takeaways from Q & A Workshop

Discussion of custom post types & forms to publish a post.

  • Gravity forms is a powerful forms plugin. Can be used to “submit & publish” a post to a website. Note: would require a username/password field. Best for sites where your users get a basic membership/role.
  • Tool Set as a way to create, re-edit, delete blog posts that a user publishes. More edit features after publish than Gravity forms?

Consider a plugin audit on your site. Review your plugins to determine:

  1. Are you still using the plugin? If no, uninstall it. Any plugin you’re not using on your site can be a liability.
  2. Does the plugin offer functionality that’s available in WordPress core? Consider uninstalling the plugin and using built-in functionality.
  3. Is the plugin updated to the latest version?
  4. Has the plugin been updated in the past two years? Plugins that haven’t been updated in two years can be a security risk. Consider another plugin that is being maintained. Or consider whether you want to adopt the plugin and take on the development

Thanks to Laura Eagin for contributing to the notes.

Productivity & Workflow – WordPress Meetup (Notes)

5 “Getting Started” Productivity Hacks

(Download Slides)
Anthony Montalbano


It can be difficult to just get started and make an idea a reality. Anthony shared a few quick tips and methods for how to execute on your idea and ways to better hold yourself accountable. Let’s stop dreaming and start doing.

Do something

  • 1-3-5 Todo List
  • Today I will accomplish 1 big thing, 3 medium things, 5 little things

Keeps you on track with your tasks and helps to make sure you get the most important stuff done first.

Better Habits – Habit Forming/Breaking

  • Way of Life App
  • Every day the app asks you what you did to keep you on track with what you want to actually accomplish.

Keep tabs on you long term goals by making them your short term goals.

Zone Out

  • RescueTime App / Service
  • Flic button + IFTTT + Rescue Time
  • With the push of a button it locks the computer for productivity.

Keep yourself focused on the task at hand, block out the distractions.


  • Google Calendar
  • When things are in a calendar they are more likely to get done.
    • Phone Calls
    • “Googling” / Research
    • Todo Items
    • Reading
    • Recreation Time
    • Meals
    • Meditation
    • Gym

Keep yourself accountable, keep in in your schedule.

Record Everything

  • Evernote / Voice Recorder
  • Simple voice recorder
    • USB built in to offload to computer.
    • Separate by folders
      • Random Thoughts
      • Projects
      • Etc.

Keep a record of everything, much easier to recall and remember if you have notes.


Benefits of Using Harvest – Invoicing and Time Management

Deborah Edwards-Onoro

Harvest is an online application that simplifies time tracking and invoicing. It provides powerful reporting, real-time access to tracking time, and fast invoicing and payment.

For Small Business Owners

  • Easy
  • Dependable
  • Customer Invoicing
  • Time Tracking

Easily do the admin and billing stuff you need to with clients.

It’s Online

  • Access Anywhere

Web-based so it can be used anywhere with an internet connection as well as on a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device with ease.

Send Invoices to pay online

  • Or have a pdf emailed

Payments are easily handled online, or in a standard invoice format pdf for the client to print and mail a check.

Secure Online Payment Processing

  • Stripe Integration
  • PayPal Integration
  • Etc.

Plenty of payment processing options to integrate with.

Other Benefits

  • Customize invoices
  • Add personalized messages per invoice
  • Automatic late notices
  • Time Tracking Made Easy
    • Track by client, project, task
    • Create itemized invoices

Makes tracking, invoicing and collecting easy!


  • Asana
  • Trello
  • Slack
  • Basecamp

Plenty of integration options to choose from.


  • Android and iPhone
  • Chrome and Safari Extension

Use it on the go or in your workflow, great apps/extensions to use.


Task Management with Trello

Eric Malcolm

Trello is an online task management application that uses boards (lists of lists), filled with cards to organize projects of any size as well as life.

Break it Down with Boards

  • Boards, Lists and Cards to break things down
  • Board for a “Project”
  • Board for “In-Progress” for the Week:
    • Days listed and tasks updated daily

Project Board

  • Resources
    • “Project A” – Link to Article
  • Ideas
    • “Project A” – We should do this
  • Features
    • “Project A” – Blogging Ability (categories, tags, etc.)
  • Tasks
    • “Project A” – Setup Theme
    • “Project A” – Install This Plugin
  • In-Progress
    • “Project A” – Setup WordPress
  • Blocked
    • “Project A” – Install This Plugin
      • Client hasn’t decide whether or not to use this plugin
  • Complete

In-Progress Board

  • Sunday
    • Relax
    • Do some Reading
  • Monday
    • “Project A” – Setup WordPress
    • “Project B” – This Task
  • Tuesday
    • “Project B” – That Task
    • “Project A” – Setup Theme
    • “Project A” – Install This Plugin
  • Etc.

Easily keep track of you daily tasks, project tasks, notes and more with Trello boards, lists and cards. Check out some Trello Board Inspiration to see what ways it is used by many, many people and organizations.



Amit Rathi

Amit covered the traditional approach of Pomodoro, and how he adapted it into something that works with his day-to-day flow.

Use Time Tracking

  • Useful for billing
  • Useful to see where time is spent
  • Useful to make sure time is spent efficiently.

Always track your time, know what you are doing, how long it is taking you, etc.

Keep yourself accountable.

  • Time Track and “Bill” yourself, make sure you are doing what your time is worth

Bill yourself to keep yourself accountable.

What is pomodoro?

  • Time tracking technique
  • Set tasks that are doable within an allotted amount of time.
  • About single tasks and single focus for a certain amount for time.
  • Usually 25 minutes.
    • 25 minutes
    • 5 minute break
  • 4 times, then a 10 minute break.

Is this something I can get done in 25 minutes?

Website Header – 2 hours


Website Logo – 25 minutes
Website Navigation Layout – 25 minute
Website Phone Number and Social Media – 25 Minutes
Website individual navigation – 25 minutes


  • Smaller, more completable tasks
  • Incorporate breaks
  • Makes it easier to stay focused
  • Works with time


  • Requires you to stick to a timer, even if you are done with a task
    only useful for individuals.
  • Difficult for team and collaborative tasks.

Getting started

  • Pick a task to do
  • Start the timer
  • Stop. Take a break
  • Repeat

Start by creating a task and a timer for 25 minutes. Tweak the time as needed on a case by case basis. Keep it simple. Make it flexible.

Thus, Pomodoro-ish..

Keep yourself accountable and productive with smaller tasks.