I never noticed this before (maybe it’s a new feature)–WordPress is offering writing prompts for bloggers. This prompt popped up after I posted my last blog: “Are there any skills you’ve picked up in the last year?”
I haven’t thought about this in a while, but actually, I have. Even before I got laid off, I’d started working on WordPress.org websites. I customized and created one site for a small organization run by friends, and then I started two of my own new websites (this one and my health blog, which is in limbo at the moment but may be revisited shortly).
So I learned all about using FTP, and how to create custom headers, and how to make a template more personalized. It was a pain in the butt and my husband witnessed me nearly breaking down on several occasions when I couldn’t figure something out–but I finally accomplished what I wanted to do.
My husband Paul is a wiz at internet research and he’s taught me so much about how to find out how to do something. He claims I am better at “languages” (ie, HTML and CSS) than he is. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do think that being an editor–used to scrutinizing a document for typos and misspellings–lends itself to the details involved in using CSS.
Also in the last year, I’ve increased my use and knowledge of social media–Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook. I just joined Google+, and I’ve yet to see how it’s an advantage over Facebook, but time will tell. I learned some techniques for increasing followers, which certainly helps if I’m going to publicize my business. I had no clue how to attract followers and yet since July I’ve added 800 followers to my Twitter account.
As an aside, the numbers help but I don’t see it as being just about the numbers. I have to use Twitter and the other social media sites; I have to add something personal and hopefully unique. I use them for both marketing and personal use. There are followers I really enjoy and I frequently respond to them. I like posting comments about my own life, when something in real life amuses or interests me. And I’m always retweeting others’s posts when they amuse or interest me, or if I think someone might be helped by the info. Of course, when I write a new blog, it automatically is announced on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
I’m always trying to learn new crafts and fun ways to be creative. Last year I learned how to make stencils for custom hand-painted t-shirts. That’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve even sold some of them. There’s a lot of crap for sale out there and if I create something unique that looks good, why shouldn’t I try to sell it? (I may eventually feature some of my designs on my blog.)
I discovered a shareware program called InkScape (similar to Adobe Illustrator). I’ve been learning that program; it’s a lot of fun and it’s helped me create more artwork. Being out of work means I’m constantly thinking of new ways to make money, but since I love making stuff as well as writing, this is a nice diversion for me. It’s not all about the money.