Updatery and Blog Innards: Choosing the right topics and plugins

My internet was down for a couple of days so I didn’t post Wednesday. What with the holidays, Greg’s birthday, company, dog-sitting, and the heat, it was just as well. I had enough to do. Next year, I might take off the whole holiday week. Most people are busy with summer plans anyway.

iko in bathroom

The meds seemed to have helped poor Iko with his anxiety. I probably should’ve given him a second pill at the height of all the fireworks, but I prefer to err on the side of caution until I know how the drug affects him. It did a fair job of taking the edge off his nervousness which is all I really wanted. It was worth it not to see him quivering like jelly.

He did ask for more hugs while he was on the meds, which surprised us. It was nice to see him interacting with the family instead of hiding.

Notice the flying ears in this photo. That’s him feeling a bit apprehensive. Yes, he’s in the bathroom. It’s his safe place. It’s hard to imagine such a big dog feeling so scared. Poor baby.

At least he’s doing better than my blog. There are days when maintaining a self-hosted blog is a full time job. There’s always something to fix or update.


WordPress: Oy! I really like WordPress but it’s not for the faint of heart if you’re not particularly tech savvy. For the record, I am not tech savvy, but I could play a tech savant on tv. It’s all smoke and mirrors, folks. 😀

Every time WordPress updates, plugins must also update to the new version. Unfortunately, not all plugins update in a timely manner. The big ones update within hours, but others could take weeks or even months.

I’m having trouble with one right now. I’ve contacted the plugin creator but all I’m getting back are cricket noises. :le sigh:

Mailchimp: The other thorn in my side is Mailchimp. It emails my blog posts to subscribers. It stopped a couple of weeks ago and I can’t figure out why. I’ve tried making small adjustments, but because I only update my blog every other day, I can’t see if the adjustment worked until the next time it’s supposed to send something out.

I think I’m doomed to start over. If it won’t let me transfer my existing subscribers to the new RSS feed, I’ll have to ask you kind folks to re-subscribe. Don’t do it yet. Let me try a couple more things before I do anything drastic.

If I could find a better subscriber service I would dump Mailchimp in a heartbeat. They’ve been a pain since Day One.

Coming up in July: I’m late putting July’s blog calendar together, but this month expect a State of the Homestead report, a Cheap Trick, and a couple of DIY projects.

I’m trying to steer my blog to a specific path that focuses on sustainable and frugal living. I’ve been studying various things like affiliate links, blog hop communities, and Facebook communities. A lot of my traffic comes from Facebook so it might behoove me to concentrate on that more. I really should try Pinterest again, but it intimidates the heck out of me.

Traffic is slow right now but that’s normal for the summer. It’s an ideal time to experiment with new advertisers and new blog hop communities to see what’s a good fit for me. I’ve found at least one organizer that has brought me a large amount of traffic from one post alone. I’m going to try other posts with them to see if they also do well.

I’ve spent months reading posts from various blog hops. The writing is almost always excellent but what makes me click on the link depends entirely on the the topic. A catchy title helps, but it has to lure me in from the first paragraph or I won’t read further.

How do you decide what topics to talk about on any given day? How do you keep things fresh? Do you belong to any blog communities? Pros and cons?

One last question: Do you use an email marketing tool for your newsletters or blog posts? What do you use? I’m really getting tired of Mailchimp.


This post may contain affiliate links. Clicking on these links cost you nothing, but they do help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting MariaZanniniHome. I appreciate you!

All original content copyrighted by Maria Zannini 2016 - 2018.


    • Madeleine: I know more than a few bloggers who change their schedules for the summer. I think if you post at least once a week, you won’t be forgotten.

      re: Iko
      I wish we had done this earlier. It made life much easier for him.

  1. Marianne Arkins

    My neighbor has a dog who is terrified of fireworks and thunderstorms. Our vet suggested using a new product called Sileo — it’s an oral gel you put between the gum and cheek. I also just found this on a quick search for Sileo for dogs: http://keepthetailwagging.com/is-sileo-safe-for-dogs-with-fear-and-anxiety/ She also uses a calming collar. http://www.calmingcollars.com/ I’m SO grateful Kenzie appears completely unaffected by the noise.

    • Marianne: My vet said she had an oral gel but it was for horses. She said if the Xanax didn’t help she’d let me try the gel. I’ll have to ask her what it’s called when I go back.

      re: Kenzie
      Thank goodness. That kind of fear paralyzes them, and it makes me feel awful that I can’t make them feel better.

  2. I couldn’t cope with such Word Press vagaries. Ref finding something fresh to say, I sometimes find it hard and that’s posting only once a week! If I’m lucky and idea will strike on a Sunday and I’ll do the post then, feeling incredibly smug because it’s done, five days in advance. On other occasions it really is a last minute thing.

  3. Mike: I’m sure other people aren’t as obsessed about things working perfectly with their WP blogs, but it bugs me.

    re: posting
    I was good with my blog calendar since I started this blog, but summer activities has slowed me down a bit. I still jot down topics as they occur to me but I still have to write the post.

    • Mac: Blogger will always remain my favorite, but I like the freedom of WordPress despite the hassle. It lets me design my site from the ground up.

      With great power comes great responsibility. Look at me. I’m Spiderwoman! 🙂

  4. Angela Brown

    I often go get that fireworks can be a terror to dogs. Glad Iko’s doing alright.

    I use Mail chimp for newsletters but I’m not the best with it. Not sure what other options there are.

  5. Glad to hear the meds worked for Iko. Our dog didn’t like fireworks; he wouldn’t shake but he would come to us for comfort. In his later years we just stopped going out on the 4th and stayed home with him.

    I don’t have any advice about the email service. Another blog I follow who sends out emails of new blog posts uses FeedProxy (at least that’s the name that is in the email). Good luck trying to sort it all out!


  6. I’m not really here. 🙂

    I’ve only ever used Mailchimp, and only for about a year before I gave up on it. My friend Jill uses SendinBlue for her home-based business. She has a free account that lets her e-mail up to 9K contacts (you can get more if you pay) She says she really prefers it over Mailchimp, which was what she started out with first. The website is at https://www.sendinblue.com/ if you want to have a look.

    Since I’m on hiatus from blogging I’m thinking a lot about the same questions you’re asking. I like regular features on the blog scheduled for my busy days. Like the interesting video I always post on Fridays; the real reason behind it is so I can get my accounting done offline (hardly anyone comments on videos.) I really like the videos you’ve been posting on the blog lately; the life hacks are especially neat.

    I like to post every day, too, but lately it’s tough to find things of interest to writers that are free (which has always been my particular focus.) Any decent submission calls that don’t require a reading fee are scarce, most writing contests have dried up and I’m not seeing a lot of freeware specifically geared toward writers. I can always talk shop, but since I shifted to ghost writing I can’t use examples from my current works. That’s part of the reason I took off July, so I could rethink the blog content. 🙂

    • Lynn: I’ll check it out. Thanks!

      re: blog content
      I’ll always remember when you used to participate in a group blog. Your posts were cracking-good. I never missed them. I have to admit I stopped visiting the site after you left.

      I can see your conundrum now though. Your career has shifted and you can’t do what you’ve done in the past. That’s one reason I reinvented this blog. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of writer blogs, writer journey blogs, and writer therapy blogs. I write, but there are too many other people (like you) who would give better advice. I felt I was getting lost in a big bowl. It’s no longer enough to blog about your passions. You have to blog to your strengths.

  7. Awwww, such a sweet doggy. We take our vacation the week of the 4th usually because most of my clients are quiet during that week. This year they weren’t, though…and everywhere we went was busy, so I’m thinking about moving my vacation back to the fall, where it used to be!

Say a few words for our audience.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.