Five For Friday: Goals for Bloggiesta



Bloggiesta starts today! Here’s a chance for us to catch up with those things that we’ve been meaning to do around the blog for ages, but haven’t had the chance. The Bloggiesta event is hosted by Suey and Danielle.

I’m going to be away for some of this weekend but I’ll have a bit of time for bloggy stuff, so here are my goals. I’ve tried to pick things that are unlikely to take me a lot of time, although I do find that once you get stuck into bloggy stuff, it’s hard to know when you’re “done”!

Five Goals for Bloggiesta

1. Sort out my tags

Tags are used to find reviews or posts for quite specific subjects. My tags are getting a little unwieldy – I need to do a bit of a stocktake and organise them a little to make it easier for people (myself included) to find what they’re looking for around the site.

2. Cross-post my reviews to Amazon

I’ve got a bit behind with posting to Amazon so I need to try to sort those out.

3. Check out the Mini-Challenges

The last Bloggiesta I took part in had some very informative mini-challenges up – I learned about SEO, got some spiffy new plugins and (hopefully) ended up with a better-looking blog at the end of it! I’m quite looking forward to seeing what interesting things there are to learn this time.

4. A tidy or reorganisation of Goodreads

My to-read shelf is up to 380 books. At the rate I’m currently reading, that’s almost four years worth of reading. A cull may or may not be in order 😛

5. New graphics for various things around the blog

If I have time, I’d love a new graphic for Clock Rewinders. There are a couple of other places where things could do with a bit of sprucing up, too.

Are you taking part in Bloggiesta this time? Link me your goals and I’ll drop by to see what you’re up to!

Bloggiesta Finish Line

The Bloggiesta weekend is over. It’s time for a look back over what was achieved and what is still left to do. You can see all the links to the wrap-up posts on Suey’s blog as they are added.

Firstly, thanks so much for the organisers of the event. What a great turn out! I’m sure the tips and tricks shared have made a lot of blogs just a bit (or a lot) more awesome this weekend! Make sure you check out the list of mini-challenges, there’s some brilliant information there.

Sadly, I didn’t get to spend much time at all on bloggy stuff over the weekend. Most of the time I did get was taken up with theme tweaking, but I did manage to get a quick look at some of the other things on my list, plus some surprise extras.

Goal 1: Choose a new theme and install it

Theme browsing is exhausting and generally soul-destroying. After looking at themes all week, I eventually settled on the free Responsive Twenty Ten, a child theme of the Twenty Ten theme. Responsive themes are supposed to make the site look good on any platform: computers, tablets, smartphones. Unfortunately, Oaken Bookcase was very broken when I looked at it on my mobile. I’ve fixed it for now with the WPTouch plugin, but I might look into a different responsive theme instead.

Generally speaking, I love the new theme. It has the wider post area that I was after and I can get my other requirements from plugins. There are a couple of things that are bugging me, though.

One is with images – I can’t resize them or centre them. I’m not sure why. The other is that to change the post background colour and menu bar colours, I’m going to have to make a copy of the style.css and fiddle with it. That’s not a huge problem, I can do that, it’s just… I don’t want to 😀

Overall I’m pretty happy with the way the site is looking now. I may fiddle with another couple of themes before I settle on one, but I know I can always come back to this one and be happy.

Here’s the before shot for comparison (click for bigger):

My other sub-goals were listed on my Five For Friday post:

Goal 2: Rethink what needs to be in the sidebar

Thanks to the mini-challenge at The Reading Fever, I took a good look at my sidebar and removed and moved a few things. I cleaned up my social media buttons and tried to think about what people use the sidebar to find. I hope I’ve improved it – it still needs a bit of work but it’s getting there.

Goal 3: Learn about Search Engine Optimisation

Good Books & Good Wine had a great mini-challenge on SEO. I learned a lot about what I need to include in my posts and meta information, but I have yet to actually implement it. This one goes back on my to-do pile.

Goal 4: Blogroll update

Totally didn’t get to this one, but I believe the plugin WP Social Blogroll might meet my needs (thanks, Phillipa – incidentally, go and check out her new blog, Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales!).

Goal 5: Sort out my Goodreads shelves

I had a quick buzz through my Read shelf and shelved everything, plus re-arranged my to-read shelf a little. It still isn’t perfect but I’m going to call this one done for the moment!

Added bonus content:

  • Installed CommentLuv plugin, thanks to the plugins mini-challenge from Jenni Elyse (will probably add a few more this week)
  • Installed Star Rating for Reviews plugin, thanks to the mini-challenge at The Bluestocking Society (I love the look of this blog!)
  • New blog background. Original image is from Beyond-Oddities at DeviantArt – thanks very much to Ellie for your help with finding it! She also found me some neat free wooden-look social media icons, but I will keep them tucked away until I can get a full set with Goodreads and Pinterest buttons too.

Further to-do items:

  • Fix theme mobile issue.
  • Re-create Reviews page, possibly as a gallery.
  • Create personalised images for IMM, WWW and Friday features (or fix existing).
  • Featured posts slider (work in progress).
  • Add things for SEO including meta information to existing reviews.
  • Tweak style.css (or find a theme that has easy colour tweak options).

All comments/criticisms/suggestions on what I’ve ended up with are most welcome!

I hope you had a fun Bloggiesta weekend and met all of your goals!

Feel free to link me your spiffed-up blog and show it off 🙂

Five For Friday: Bloggiesta!

It’s Friday! That means it’s time for Five For Friday.

This weekend, Bloggiesta is on! Book bloggers from around the world are working hard on their blogs to spruce them up. I thought it was fitting that this week’s Friday Five should be:

Five things I plan to do for Bloggiesta!

1. Choose a new theme and install it.

I’ve had a look around at some of the WordPress themes available and have come to the conclusions that:

  1. There are faaaar too many themes available for me to ever look at and evaluate, and
  2. I am really bad at trying to imagine what they actually look like on a blog and what I could do with them.

I’ve decided that even though I really like the look of the flashy premium themes, I’m going to first try out a free one or two from I can always change later if I decide I need to.

My number one aim through this design process is to try to avoid clutter as much as possible by working out what is really needed for function, and moving or removing extra bits and pieces.

Please bear with me for the next few days (maybe this week?) until I get things sorted around here!

Here’s a “before” image (click for bigger):

2. Rethink what needs to be in the sidebar.

My sidebar needs rearranging, but I’ll sort the theme out before I start messing with it. The Reading Fever has a Bloggiesta mini-challenge about sidebars which looks very helpful! My aim is as previously mentioned: Avoid clutter, retain function.

3. Learn about Search Engine Optimisation.

I haven’t really thought about SEO before on my previous blogs, but its important to be able to be found easily. If I learn about it now, I can start putting search engine-friendly things into posts right away while my blog is only small. I spied a Bloggiesta mini-challenge about this on Good Books & Good Wine.

4. Blogroll update

I am considering moving my blogroll to a links page or removing it altogether – I follow a lot of blogs now and it doesn’t seem fair to miss any out. Blogger has a neat widget that shows the blogs updated recently at the top, but I don’t see anything like that for WordPress. Any advice for blogrolls?

5. Sort out my Goodreads shelves

I started doing this already in dribs and drabs, but it really needs a good re-shelving effort. This includes sorting my to-read pile to I can work out what needs to be read by when.

There’s a lot to do! Happy Bloggiesta!

Bloggiesta 2012, Olé!

This coming weekend, the book blogging world will take part in Bloggiesta – an opportunity to put some quality time into our blogs! It’s an opportunity to work on those bloggy things we’ve been putting off or weren’t sure how to do.

This year it’s being hosted by Suey and Danielle and will include mini-challenges and discussions on Twitter. It sounds like it will be a fun weekend! I won’t be able to put a huge amount of time in this weekend but I’ll be doing what I can.

My blog to-do list pretty much consists of one item:

Choose a new theme and get it working.

The old Pilcrow theme is a good starter, but I’m looking to switch to something with a slightly wider post area. I’d also quite like a strip at the top to put featured posts in. Custom header isn’t an absolute must, I can probably live without that. Everything else is a bonus, really. If you know of a theme that fits my criteria, please let me know!

I’m going to be watching the mini-challenges and other activities closely to see if I can glean any extra fandangle things to improve the Bookcase.

Are you interested in joining in?  Make sure you go sign up at It’s All About Books and follow @bloggiesta on Twitter.



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