Two Free Tools for Non-Designers: Canva and Pablo

The Daily Post

Getting Started: To use Canva, you need to sign up for an account. Pablo, on the other hand, doesn’t require an account — just visit the Pablo page and start tinkering. Both are free to use, but note that Canva includes images you can buy for a small fee, too.

Given the popularity of our posts on designing custom image widgets and headers, photo apps, and free-to-use image resources, here’s a peek at two free tools that can help you create customized widgets, headers, and other extras for your blog: Canva, a program to make images and designs of all kinds and sizes; and Pablo, a tool to build social media posts, created by Buffer. I’ve been using both recently for design and image purposes: each have their pros and cons, but overall are great tools to try.

We’ve published tutorials using other free design and image…

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Web Publishing for All! Introducing Community Translator Tools

The WordPress.com Blog

Publishing tools for everyone

Roughly half of the content and traffic on the internet is in English1, yet English is the mother tongue of only about a quarter of internet users2, and less than 5% of the world’s population.3 We believe that WordPress.com should be for everyone, not just English speakers — it’s why we already serve WordPress in 131 languages — but we want to make it even more accessible.4

To keep so many languages up to date we need to make it radically easier for non-English speaking communities to help with translation. We’re proud to announce our latest step in that direction: the Community Translator.

Introducing: built-in translation

Here’s how it works: enable the tool in your blog’s settings. Then, when you activate the Community Translator, words in need of translation will be highlighted in green. You’ll be able to right-click on them, enter your new…

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Using Category Pages to Organize Content

The Daily Post

Like many bloggers, your post topics vary: sometimes you post memoirs. Sometimes poems, sometimes recipes replete with fun food photography. Sometimes you post drawings or free-writes from the daily writing prompt or entries into the weekly photo challenge.

Further reading:

As a blogger, you might struggle with how to organize these seemingly disparate interests on your site, as your posts accumulate in a lively stream of thought and creativity. Category pages to the rescue!

Reasons to organize

There are as many reasons to organize your posts as there are bloggers on the planet. Here are just a few scenarios:

  1. You want to be able to return to certain posts again and again simply by clicking on a menu item on your blog. For instance: you’d like to collect all your entries to the…

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2015 Spider’s Web Flash Fiction Prize

Creative Writing Contests

“Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.”

―Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

We at Spider Road Press are celebrating excellent, unpublished flash fiction featuring a female protagonist. Enter your compelling flash fiction about complex women to win the 2015 Spider’s Web Flash Fiction Prize!

First Prize:  $100 and publication in the print and e-book editions of the next Spider Road Press anthology.

Second Prize: $25, publication on the Spider Road Press website, and a free copy of any Spider Road Press title.

Honorable Mention: Publication on the Spider Road Press website and a certificate.

Entries accepted March 1-May 1, 2015.

Fiction will be judged “blind” by a panel that includes authors Lani Longshore, Pamela Mooman, and Patricia Flaherty Pagan. Winners will be contacted in June, 2015. Enter your fiction today!

Submissions criteria:

•  Unpublished flash fiction featuring a female protagonist.

•  750 word limit…

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The Most Important Page on Your Author Website (Plus a Chance at a Freebie Consultation)

Live to Write - Write to Live

all about me notHello, there.

How are you? Good? Good.

I’d like to talk with you for a minute about what is probably the most important page on your writer/author website: The About Page.

The About Page may seem like a fairly run-of-the-mill page, but it’s statistically one of the most frequently visited pages on a site. No matter where people enter your site (your home page, a blog post, your books page, etc.) there’s a pretty good chance that they will also take a look at your About Page. Is your About Page doing its job?

A while back, I wrote a post for my marketing blog: How to Write an About Page – 5 Steps to Get It Right. The post is a bit of a rant, but I prefer to think of it as a loving intervention. In it, I explain – in detail and with common mistakes &…

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Creating images for blogs and other social media sites

Live to Write - Write to Live

033015_imageOver the weekend I learned a new skill: creating a header image for an organization’s website.

I was intimidated, nervous, and wondered if there was enough time left in that day to actually accomplish the task at hand.

Canva.com has been mentioned as a resource on this blog in the past few months. Deborah’s post lists several resources for culling free images, and Julie’s post mentions canva in passing as something she uses quite a bit.

As I was in need of the image for the mystery writer’s group I belong to with Julie, she’d mentioned canva.com to me a few times and said it was easy to use.

I couldn’t put the task off any longer, so I clicked on over to canva.com and found I could log in with a Google account. I liked not having to create an account. Ahh!

And then I was ready to go.

First…

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Websites for the Win: Four Home Pages

The WordPress.com Blog

We love blogs, but we love websites, too. Small businesses, personal portfolios, non-profit organizations, government websites — bring ’em on! These four sites are each beautiful, effective, and built on WordPress.com.

Sandyfoot Farm

Purple carrots, green grass, red tomatoes — rather than clashing, the images on Sandyfoot Farm’s site suggest abundance and health. Popular free theme Sela is the perfect backdrop for these Virginia farmers’ vibrant vegetables.

sandyfootSela‘s built-in “front page” template gives them space for a welcome note and and three areas highlighting key elements of their business like farmers’ market appearances, farm shares, and their farm blog. The theme’s default sans-serif font plays well with the Sandyfoot logo and keeps things feeling streamlined, even amidst a riot of color.

Only in the Peg

Ever thought about visiting Winnipeg, Canada? You will after seeing Only in the Peg, the adorable online showcase the city’s tourism board built using the premium Adventure theme. While the site retains a blog-style…

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Perspectives on Street Photography

The Daily Post

Photographers sharing their perspectives on street photography:

Jon Sanwell, Without An H
Hanoi, Vietnam

Shane Francescut, The Weekly Minute
Ottawa, Canada

Stephanie Dandan, Infinite Satori
Traveling in Southeast Asia

Joshi Daniel, Joshi Daniel Photography
India

Leanne Cole, Leanne Cole Photography
Melbourne, Australia

Stephen McLeod Blythe, All My Friends Are JPEGs
Glasgow, Scotland

Donncha Ó Caoimh, In Photos
Cork, Ireland

Last year, we published posts that touched on street photography: Russ Taylor shared his creative process on photographing people all over the world, and Dominic Stafford talked about documenting the streets of Southeast Asia.

But what is street photography? Over on Photo Theory, John Meehan writes:

What is striking about attempts to define “street photography” is the striking lack of consensus.

On the Nature of Street Photography

Very simply put, some people view street photography as an art form — a genre of documentary in which a photographer captures real life as…

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Writers and Marketing – What Makes Sense?

Live to Write - Write to Live

paris clockA couple of weeks ago, I shared a tally and breakdown of the average number of hours I spend each week on non-writing, marketing-related activities. Though my estimates were rough, the bottom like was that I typically spend between six and eleven hours each week on tasks that range from writing blog posts to posting on social media to meet-and-greets with potential clients.

That’s a lot of hours.

At least, it is in my world.

While I was writing that post (and suddenly realizing just how many hours I actually dedicate to these various pursuits), I began to question what – if anything – I was gaining as a return on the investment of my precious time. After all, time is the most valuable commodity for any writer. It is not something to be squandered. I have often lamented how little time I have to write, and yet here…

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