Should we #DeleteFacebook ??

April 12, 2018 § Leave a comment

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, even just a little bit, you may have heard something about Facebook and data sharing, and/or Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg having to testify in front of the United States Congress this week.

I’ll admit it, I’ve stopped watching the news for the most part, so I feel you if you’ve got no clue what I’m talking about. But let me fill you in.

These hearings are happening about a month after it became known that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign, accessed information from as many as 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge.

The firm offered tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior.

While Zuckerberg has apologized for the data breach, even saying that Cambridge Analytica got his data, too, how will we know if Facebook is a safe place to be (or not to be, given that Facebook tracks non-users, too)?

Because of this, and a few other reasons, many people have been wondering if they should delete, or deactivate, their Facebook accounts – sharing the reasons on Twitter via #DeleteFacebook

If you’re looking to take a break from social media or just don’t want to deal with Facebook, go ahead, delete it. If you’re taking a stand and hoping to boycott Facebook, deleting your profile is just a drop in the bucket. Facebook is used by billions of people around the globe, and is expected to reach 3 billion users by 2020.

If you’re simply worried about the safety of your data, well, yeah, me too. So, I dug up some ways you can secure your Facebook profile.

Start by taking a look at your App Settings (settings > apps), and unlink any Facebook apps from your account you no longer use. You can also completely disable the Facebook apps platform.

When you disable Facebook’s app platform:

  • You won’t be able to log into websites or applications using Facebook.
  • You won’t be able to log into mobile games or applications using Facebook.
  • Your friends won’t be able to interact and share with you using apps and websites.
  • Instant personalization will also be turned off.
  • Apps you’ve previously installed may still have info you shared. Facebook says you should contact apps for details on removing this data.
  • Apps you’ve logged into (with Facebook or Anonymously) will be removed.
  • Posts by apps will be removed from your profile.

Also within your app settings, you can control the information your friends see about you (which is often shared with third-party apps).

Finally, keep your eyes open for more security and privacy updates from Facebook. Especially after this hearing, Facebook has an obligation to its users. We deserve to know who has access to our information.

In other news, last night was the final class of “Intermediate Blogging” for the Spring semester at the University of Texas at Austin.

However, registration is now open for the Summer semester! You can sign up for “Blogging for Beginners“, which starts on May 30, and you can also sign up for “Intermediate Blogging“, which starts on August 1.

Hope to see you there!

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Intermediate Blogging.

April 4, 2018 § Leave a comment

Today is such an exciting day, as it’s the first installment of a NEW course I’m teaching! It’s “Intermediate Blogging”, which will serve as a companion to “Blogging for Beginners”.

I’ve been teaching Blogging for Beginners for several years, at two universities, and even wrote and published a textbook for it. It is an accomplishment that I’m so proud of, but one that humbles me at the same time. All of the students I’ve met over the years have inspired me so much.

I feel really lucky to know that they want to learn even more. The beginner’s course truly is for beginners; during class one, we discuss “What exactly IS a blog?” And five weeks later, they’ve got the information to create a blog, publish posts, promote them with social media, and make money through affiliate marketing.

While teaching my beginning course will always be my first love, I would leave campus knowing there were students in class who already knew the information I was teaching. They needed a bigger challenge – was I the person to deliver it?

Why not!?

And so, Intermediate Blogging was born, and I’ve spent lots of time trying to create a well-rounded course that goes deeper than what the beginner’s class offers. Believe it or not, I am still putting final touches on my presentation, but here’s what Intermediate Blogging will cover:

Blogging

  • Writing the perfect “About Me” page
  • Tips for a viral blog post
  • Creating a media kit

Search Engine Optimization

  • Factors of Google’s algorithm
  • A history of algorithm updates
  • Google Webmaster guidelines
  • What’s a Google penalty + how to recover from one
  • Yoast + other SEO plugins
  • Meta content
  • The evolution of link building
  • How to keep up with SEO strategies

Keyword Research 

  • What makes a perfect keyword list?
  • Keyword research tools
  • How to monitor your competition
  • Building a strategic content calendar

Email Marketing

  • What is email marketing?
  • Pros + cons
  • How to do it right
  • Ideas for email campaigns

E-Books/Downloads

  • Should I write an e-book?
  • How to publish + price your idea

Social Media

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram

Paid Search 

  • How PPC and SEO work together

…And we very well might touch on a few other things if I’ve got time left! It’s a hefty agenda, but I’m looking forward to meeting my new students this semester, and hearing what they hope to get from this course.

Teaching “Blogging for Beginners” has been such an unexpected joy in my life, I never thought about doing much else with it. But now I’ve added another THING to my life; another stick in the fire.

And it feels really good.

Sailing Without Wind.

January 15, 2018 § Leave a comment

Whew, it’s been SO long since I’ve written a post here – but don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten. About a month ago, I browsed through all of the posts here and I was a little impressed with the vast amount of knowledge shared here, and I can see the passion I had about blogging then.

It’s a passion I still have now, but I suppose it’s visible in different ways. At the time of my last post here, I’d gotten punched in the gut when I was told I couldn’t teach my Blogging for Beginners course at LSU anymore. I don’t think I realized just how much I loved teaching the class until I couldn’t anymore (such is life).

Shortly afterward, I moved to Texas and have been here ever since! Now, I teach Blogging for Beginners at the University of Texas at Austin. I was thinking about this blog as a new semester has begun, and I’ve found myself in a weird place with my personal blog, The Bitter Lemon.

For starters, the last five months of my life have been the most difficult – EVER. I don’t want to get into the details of why, but I have been having a very tough time. I have good days and bad days – and even on good days, things can turn to bad in the blink of an eye. Not many days pass where I don’t cry, feel stressed or anxious, or have much of a desire to get out of bed.

We all have our own ways of coping with the cards we were dealt. Me? Sometimes watching a good TV show or movie helps, maybe a few minutes with my kitty Blanche, or a phone call to my mom. But most of all, writing is what helps me cope. It’s one big reason I love to blog so much!

But in this particular situation, my blog is part of the problem. Unfortunately, my blog has provided a peephole into my life for people that wish to harm me. Because of that, I have lost a majority of my will to keep on blogging.

Am I going to quit? Heck no! Am I going to let them win? Well, I certainly don’t want to. But I also have to consider my sanity, and my health. What’s it worth?

I am a very driven person, and I have experienced great joy in writing my blog over the last 10 years and relating to thousands of my readers on various subjects. It’s a great way to know we’re not alone.

But what do you do when a small (very small) group of people that read your blog are doing so to manipulate you? To threaten you?

It would be easy if I were a robot – but after years of therapy, I can tell you I’m not a robot, and deep down, that’s not what I really want in life.

The truth is, blogging hasn’t always been easy. Sometimes there are things that I’ve written about that just aren’t easy to talk about, and I’m guessing they can be difficult to read, too. With readers who agree with me are also those who disagree – and that’s not always fun.

There have been times when I’ve questioned if I should write what I’m about to write, or if I should publish it, or if I should protect it with a password. But I have also always believed in being 100% honest and as transparent as possible.

After all, I don’t use ads on my blog, I don’t have to answer to anyone – I’m the Editor-in-Chief, the CEO, the founder, you name it. At the end of the day, I know I just need to be true to myself.

So, for the last few months… I’ve just kept it really lite on the blog. I talk about books and movies and TV shows and makeup… because I don’t want it to be bare, but I also know that if I dive into any of what I’m feeling; any of what’s really going on in my life, it could mean really big consequences for me.

And right now, that’s not a risk I’m willing to take.

Has there ever been something you wanted to put into the public but knew you couldn’t? What was it? How did you handle it?

I’d love to hear from you!

Blogging for Beginners: What’s Next?

October 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from the LSU Union, where I teach my class, Blogging for Beginners.

They told me that they created a new policy that restricted who could teach the classes. The new rule was that if you’re already employed by Louisiana State University (which I am), then you could no longer teach a Leisure Course. Effective immediately.

I was so stunned, I didn’t even know what to say, and all I heard was that it was something about benefits that made it a financial burden on them.

Since I am already a full time employee, I wasn’t receiving benefits through the course. I was really upset (I’d by lying if I didn’t tear up), because I have absolutely loved teaching Blogging for Beginners.

She said I could get around the new policy, by “team teaching” and putting the class in someone else’s name.

But, I’ve decided to venture on my own and am currently looking for new teaching opportunities, whether it be with the local community college, the library system, or just through seminars and private instruction.

If you know of any opportunities, please don’t hesitate to let me know! Feel free to send me an email at: Wittywriter7@gmail.com

Thank you for always supporting me.

.Com vs. .Org

September 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

You’ve probably seen available blog addresses for .com, .org, maybe even .net… so what’s the difference?

  • .COM are generally intended to be used for commercial businesses
  • .ORG domains are usually intended for non-profit organizations
Speaking in WordPress-specific terms, they have a nice chart that compares the two:
Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 8.39.50 AM
Basically, it looks like .org might be cheaper, but you’d have to host it yourself.

RSS Feeds.

September 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

In order to be a successful blogger, you don’t have to be well-versed in RSS feeds, but it might be interesting to know a little bit about them, right?

For starters, what is an RSS feed? RSS (Rich Site Summary) is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. Many news-related sites, blogs and other online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS Feed to whoever wants it.

Some web users enjoy reading RSS feeds, because it allows them to get information from their favorite sites all in one place, instead of having to search the web, or visit several different sites. RSS feeds can also deliver the information in smaller pieces, such as just showing the first two sentences of a story, with an option to “read more,” so the user can go through the feed even faster.

Even if you don’t have a blog, you can read RSS feeds through various sites. If you want to find some to check out, simply Google “RSS feed reader” and some options will appear in a list.

If you have a blog, and you’re curious as to how your RSS feed appears to readers, you can change the settings (using Blogger or WordPress).

With Blogger, visit the Settings/Other tab, here, you can select how much of your content you want to syndicate. “Full” will put the entire content of each post in your site feed, while “Short” only includes an excerpt from the beginning of each post. Select “Until Jump Break” to show all post content before your jump break. The “None” option turns your site feed off entirely. For more advanced options, you can select “Custom.”

When you select “Custom,” you’ll see options for three different types of feeds. Each option has the same “Full,” “Short,” and “None” setting choices.

  • Blog posts: This is the same as the original, “Allow Blog Feed” option.
  • Comment feed: This will contain all comments made on all posts on your blog.
  • Per-post comment feed: With this option, each individual post will have its own site feed, containing only its own comments.

For WordPress, go to Settings > Reading Settings. From there, look for the “Syndication Feeds” section, where you can choose how many blog entries you want to appear in a syndication (RSS) feed. You can also choose how much content goes in each feed by selecting “Full text” or “Summary.”

More on Snapchat.

September 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

To be honest, I’m a little surprised Snapchat is still around! I figured it would fizzle after just a few months, but it remains to be a popular social medium, especially among teenagers.

Recently, Facebook created an app to compete with Snapchat, called Slingshot.

According to an article on NBCNews.com, “The big difference is that Slingshot required users to send a picture before they could unlock a picture that was sent to them, hopefully resulting in an addictive sharing loop. Well, it turns out people didn’t like being coerced, so now Facebook has dumped the requirement that people share to unlock their friend’s photos.”

So, Snapchat is still the winner here, as far as short-term photo sharing apps go. However, because Snapchat has become a pretty popular app, advertisers have jumped onboard, sending Snapchat users pictures…or essentially, ads.

While some Snapchat users have reported ads have “taken over” the app, the company hasn’t reported a loss of users because of it.