WordPress.com News

Introducing Six New Business-Oriented Themes

Today we’re excited to announce six new themes with an entrepreneurial spin: Calm Business, Elegant Business, Friendly Business, Modern Business, Professional Business, and Sophisticated Business. Designed by Takashi Irie, each theme in this collection is based on a clean, easy-to-navigate layout that’s well-suited to a wide range of businesses — but with six unique styles and tones, there’s a version that suits your distinctive brand. The sleek minimalism of Modern Business brings focus to your high-end fashion photography; Sophisticated Business brings a moody palette and stylized typography to complement the style of your upscale restaurant. Calm Business’s softness matches the peaceful tone of your small yoga studio, while and Friendly Business adds subtle but uplifting touches to create a welcoming online home for your hobby farm. Not to be outdone, Professional Business is solid and grounded to echo the integrity of your accounting firm, and Elegant Business’s combination of warmth and sophistication makes it a perfect fit for coffee shops. Each themes has a bold accent color you can customize to match your business’s branding. They all also include full support for the new WordPress block editor, allowing you to create a wide range of content for your site. You can learn more about each of these themes in our showcase!

Announcing Newspack by WordPress.com — A New Publishing Solution for News Organizations

Over the past 15 years, WordPress has grown to become the world’s most popular publishing platform for the open web — and it’s especially true for news organizations. Through WordPress.com and our enterprise service WordPress.com VIP, we’re proud to host sites for some of the most trusted names in journalism — from Time.com and CNN to FiveThirtyEight and Quartz, as well as individual sites for reporters and bloggers all around the globe. Today we’re excited to announce funding for a new platform, Newspack by WordPress.com, aimed at small- and medium-sized news organizations. Google, through the Google News Initiative, is taking the lead in backing the project and has committed $1.2 million. Other funders include The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, which is contributing $400,000; ConsenSys, the venture studio backing Civil Media, which is contributing $350,000; and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which is contributing $250,000. An additional $200,000 from a fifth source is expected to be contributed toward the project later this month. News organizations interested in being part of the pilot launch can go to newspack.blog to learn more. With many local news organizations struggling to find sustainable models for journalism, we’re seeing a need for an inexpensive platform that provides the technology and support that lets news organizations build their businesses and focus on what they do best — providing critical reporting for their communities. Our hope with Newspack is to give them a platform where they can continue to focus on what they do best, while we focus on providing world-class technology and support across their editorial and business operations. In addition to WordPress.com parent Automattic, partners in the project include Spirited Media, which operates local digital news sites in Denver, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, and News Revenue Hub, a spinoff of Voice of San Diego, which provides revWenue solutions for digital publishers. For more information, and to sign up for email updates, go to Newspack.blog.

Customize Your WordPress.com Dashboard

We’re happy to announce new improvements to your WordPress.com dashboard for a more accessible and customized experience. From your desktop, you can now customize your dashboard by choosing one of our two new color schemes, Classic Bright for a fresh modern feel and Classic Blue as the standard you’ve known and loved. As part of our commitment to inclusive design, these new colors have been optimized for higher contrast and increased legibility with a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1. Color Grayscale We’ll soon be introducing additional color scheme options that will continue our mission of a better more accessible web for everyone. Here’s how to customize your color scheme: On your desktop, sign in to your WordPress.com account that you’d like to customize.Click your account avatar in the upper right corner.Select Account SettingsUnder Dashboard Color Scheme select an option Have ideas for color schemes you’d like to see? Please comment below.

Introducing the 2019 ‘Anything Is Possible’ List

A coffee co-op owned by its farmers, a sewing community empowering people of all body shapes and sizes, and a 12-year-old journalist are among those named in WordPress.com’s first-ever “Anything Is Possible” List for 2019, celebrating 14 extraordinary people and organizations who are using the web to make the world a better place. This year’s inaugural list includes nonprofits, artists who are using their work to raise awareness, and bloggers who created community when they saw a critical gap. Here are 14 inspiring sites for 2019, where Anything Is Possible: NappStar Congolese-American sisters Melissa and Annette Roche started NappStar, an innovative hair salon specializing in loc hairstyles, after growing up watching their mother work on people’s hair in their community in Maryland. They now operate a thriving business in New York City. It Gets Better Project The It Gets Better Project was launched in 2010 to help LGBTQ+ youth feel supported and connected in the face of bullying and intolerance; over the years, the organization has collected a massive archive of over 60,000 stories all sharing the same theme of empowerment. Orange Street News Hilde Lysiak started Orange Street News, her small town’s only newspaper, at the age of 9. She’s been serving her community nonstop since then, reporting on everything from snow days to the local drug crisis. The Sewcialists The Sewcialists is an online global community that brings together sewing and knitting fans committed to celebrating their craft, making it accessible to people of all body shapes and sizes, and focusing on sustainability and empowerment. Beer&Body Craft Beer Girls In an often male-dominated industry and cultural niche, Kate Christensen decided women who enjoy craft beer need to have a safe community space in which to connect, educate one another, and discuss responsible consumption, health, and wellness. Stephanie Land A blog-to-book success story — Stephanie was a single mother facing homelessness when she started blogging about her experiences living with poverty and working as a house cleaner. After going viral a couple of years ago, she now has a new memoir, MAID, coming out in January. The Spelling Champ High-school senior Cole Shafer-Ray finished third at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2015; after coming so close to winning, he decided to channel his talent and energy into empowering others to excel at competitive spelling bees, starting a successful consulting business. Pachamama Coffee Based in Sacramento, Pachamama Coffee has a powerful story of social entrepreneurship: it’s a grower-owned cooperative through which coffee farmers from Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru sell their fair-trade beans across farmers’ markets, co-ops, and retailers around the U.S. Ideas Beyond Borders A nonprofit aiming to correct misinformation and fight against extremist narratives, Ideas Beyond Borders was founded by Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, who arrived in the U.S. as an Iraqi refugee in 2013. The organization focuses on educating and bridge-building via translation, bringing English texts on human rights and adjacent topics to Arabic-speaking communities in the Middle East. Rebrand Cities Founder Hajj Flemings identified a major obstacle for small businesses in American communities, including many owned by people of color: they are still on the analog side of the digital divide. Rebrand Cities works to bridge that gap by bringing small businesses online and opening up new opportunities for small business owners across the country. Kelsey Montague Street artist Kelsey Montague explores the interaction between public art and the human experience, having created street murals in cities including Cape Town, Galway, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Manchester, and New York City. She will be painting a new mural in collaboration with WordPress.com in January, to be featured in Los Angeles. Maeband Maeband founder Holly Kjar and two of her kids. While pregnant with her fourth child, Holly Kjar was frustrated by the lack of affordable maternity wear. So she teamed up with her mother to create a brand new belly band, and launched a new online business on WordPress.com that allows women to keep wearing their favorite clothes during pregnancy and empowers them to stay active while saving money. Faces of Auschwitz Faces of Auschwitz project lead Marina Amaral Faced with growing ignorance about the Holocaust among younger people, master photo colorist Marina Amaral decided to bring victims’ stories and humanity to life by colorizing photos from the Auschwitz Museum archives. They can now be explored on the website of the organization she leads, Faces of Auschwitz. Corvid Research Seattle-based wildlife scientist Kaeli Swift launched a WordPress.com blog as a grad student to share the knowledge she’s collected through her research on urban crows. Her site has become a thriving online community for others who share her passion for these fascinating birds — and an entry point into the study of nature for people all over the world. To read all of the Anything Is Possible stories, go to wordpress.com/do-anything.

New Theme: Twenty Nineteen

We’re pleased to announce that Twenty Nineteen — the new WordPress default theme designed by Allan Cole and Kjell Reigstad — is available to all WordPress.com sites. Twenty Nineteen was designed with simple but sophisticated typography and a pared-down, open aesthetic, making it a great foundation for a variety of websites. It also fully supports the new WordPress Editor, which allows you to create a wide range of content for your site. Twenty Nineteen gives your featured images a bold treatment on posts and pages: the images cover the full width and height of the screen, along with a color overlay which can be changed in the Customizer. Learn more about WordPress’s latest default theme here, or check out the demo site!

Now Available in the Mobile Apps: Revision History

The ability to load a previous version of a page or post is invaluable when you need to make a quick correction or compare your current revision to earlier ones. What about viewing your content’s revision history on the go? This can be a real life-saver, as we’re not always at our desktops. Well, we’re thrilled to announce that you can now review your content’s history and load revisions for both pages and posts directly from the WordPress mobile apps. View History The revision history of every page or post you’ve worked on is available right from the editor. Just tap My Sites → Site Pages or Blog Posts → any page or post → three-dots button → History. The history list shows you the time each revision was created (organized by date), the author of the revision, as well as the number of additions and deletions for each revision. To view the content of each revision, tap it on the list. Load Revision If you’d like to continue working on an earlier version of your page or post, tap the Load button while viewing the content of a revision. You can view the content in either HTML or a visual format — just tap the three-dot menu and select HTML preview or Visual preview, respectively. Send Feedback The WordPress mobile apps are free and available for both Android and iOS devices. If you have any questions or feedback, reach out to our support team directly from the app — tap Me → Help & Support → Contact Us. If you’re a developer and would like to contribute to the project, learn how you can get involved.

Announcing Free .blog Subdomains

Over the last thirteen years or so, the number of sites on WordPress.com has grown — a lot. Every one of those sites gets a unique wordpress.com address. And since there are millions of sites created each year, it means the address you’d like isn’t always available. Today, a whole new range of possibility opens up: free .blog subdomains. What’s a subdomain? Glad you asked! This site’s address is is blog.wordpress.com. Here, wordpress.com is the domain and blog is the subdomain. Say your name is Molly and you’re starting a food blog. The domain mollysfoodblog.wordpress.com — that is, the subdomain “mollysfoodblog” on wordpress.com — is already taken by someone. Or you’re starting a website to offer tech advice; but there’s already a site using techadvice.wordpress.com, drat! Now you have more options: you can choose to use a free subdomain with a .blog address, like mollys.food.blog or advice.tech.blog. There’s a list of popular .blog domains we’ve reserved just for this: art.blogbusiness.blogcar.blogcode.blogdata.blogdesign.blogfamily.blogfashion.blogfinance.blogfitness.blog food.bloggame.bloghealth.bloghome.bloglaw.blogmovie.blogmusic.blognews.blogphoto.blog poetry.blogpolitics.blogschool.blogscience.blogsport.blogtech.blogtravel.blogvideo.blogwater.blog These .blog subdomains work just like the regular wordpress.com subdomains — they don’t expire, they’re free to use for the lifetime of your site, and you can always replace them with a custom domain at any time. How do I get one? First, create your new site. In the first step of signup, we’ll ask you about your goal for your site — select only the “Share ideas, experiences, updates, reviews, stories, videos, or photos” option. In our experience, the people who select this option generally find that a .blog subdomain fits their site well. Fill out the other fields as well, and click Continue.  Now, in the next step when searching for a site address, you’ll see a free option at the top of the list. We’ll suggest a .blog subdomain related to the terms you entered in the first step. For example, if you searched for “Tech Advice,” we might suggest advice.tech.blog as an address for your site. Click Select next to the address you choose, and you’re all set, Your new website and its perfect address are only a few clicks away. If you start a new site with a .blog subdomain, let us know in the comments! We’d love see what you create.

WordPress Support Workshops for Women in the Asia-Pacific Region

Automattic wants to build a new web, and a new type of workplace.  We want to deliver world-class 24/7 support to our users, and an innovative, exciting, and healthy work environment for our staff worldwide. As a part of  this, we recruit from all timezones so that everyone has the freedom to choose their own work hours. In Happiness in particular, we want to provide better support coverage in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, and our APAC recruiting efforts have included everything from advertising on social media and job boards to in-person networking at WordCamps and WordPress Meetups. While we’ve hired some great Happiness Engineers, we discovered that the ratio of women applicants was dropping over time. As awareness of Automattic as a distributed employer has grown in the region, the number of applications from men has grown faster than those from women. Given Automattic’s commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion, we brainstormed ways to reach women more effectively. This turned into a series of workshops on WooCommerce held for women in India and Singapore throughout 2018. In 2019 we’ll take our message to a broader audience by offering an online workshop. This will let us reach women in many more countries and cities than we could ever visit in a calendar year. We’re partnering with Support Driven, an online community of support professionals, to promote support as a career for women who may have the relevant skills but haven’t applied for these roles. In January 2019 we’ll launch the first online workshop for women in APAC focused on developing skills in WordPress support. The course will cover: Goals of great customer support Developing your own support philosophy WordPress troubleshooting Productivity tools Support as a career By the end of the course, students will have developed a résumé and portfolio site on WordPress to share with potential employers. Want to be notified about this and other upcoming workshops? Sign up here! Photo by Elijah O’Donnell on Unsplash.  

Setting Up Your Site on a Mobile Device Just Got a Lot Easier

Starting a new website is always exciting: you’ve chosen a topic, found the right name, and started building it on WordPress.com. Now you may be asking yourself, “What’s next?” Well, when you create a site on the WordPress for Android or WordPress for iOS mobile apps, the answer will became a lot easier with the introduction of Quick Start, a new tool that guides you through the setup process. How Quick Start works After you create a new site on your WordPress app, you’ll see a prompt asking if you want some assistance setting it up. Tap Yes! and you’ll find Quick Start: a short list of to-do items that will set you on the path to success. With Quick Start, you’ll be able to… View your site from within the apps. Select a new theme. Customize your site. Create a new blog post. Set up your sharing preferences. Follow new sites in the WordPress.com Reader. These are all tasks that will help you start on the right foot. Exploring these options won’t take very long, but once you’ve gone through the list you’ll have a website ready to welcome its first visitors — and all the pieces in place for future growth and success. Available now Quick Start is part of the WordPress for Android app (version 10.8 or higher) and WordPress for iOS (version 11.1). If you’ve got an iPhone, iPad, or Android device and have been thinking of launching a new site, this is the time to take the plunge!

A New Way to Manage Your Pages on the WordPress Mobile Apps

We’ve made a small change to the WordPress mobile apps to make it easier for you to navigate and edit your pages. In previous versions of WordPress for iOS and Android, your pages were ordered by the date they were created as opposed to what your actual page hierarchy looks like on your website. Users told us they found it difficult to find the page they were looking to edit, so we’ve now updated this section to match the layout of your site. Here’s how to try it out First, make sure you’ve updated your WordPress app to the last version. Open the app, go to the My Site section, select a site and then select Site Pages. If a page has one or more child pages, the new layout represents the hierarchical view using an indentation on the left. If a page is a top level page, it won’t be indented. Set a parent page To set a parent page or a top level page, click on the [3 dots menu] on the right of the page you want to edit, then select Set Parent. The app will show you the list of the available pages and the Top level option. You can use the search bar at the top to easily find the page you are looking for. Select the option you require and tap the Done button. Send feedback The WordPress mobile apps are free and available on both Android and iOS. If you have any questions or feedback, reach out to our in-app support team by tapping Me → Help & Support → Contact Us. If you’re a developer and would like to contribute to the project, learn how you can get involved. Enjoy!

Today is Election Day in the United States. Please Vote!

A few weeks ago we announced our partnership with voter-registration initiative TurboVote Challenge. Well, today is the day! From coast to coast, voters in the United States head to the polls for the 2018 midterm election. Hopefully, by now you’ve made a plan to get to the polls. If you have any questions about your polling location (or if you need help getting there), we have some important resources for  you below. If you’ve voted, like this post, share it with your friends, and leave us a comment below. Better yet: blog about it! Remember to tag it with “#2018Midterms” and “#MidtermElections2018” so that others might find it in the WordPress.com Reader and join the conversation. Election Day Resources Learn where to cast your ballot #VoteTogether Rock the Vote Lyft & Uber to the polls Free rides from Lime  

Introducing Activity

Knowing what’s going on behind the scenes of your site is key to engagement and security.  Who published a post? What comments need to be approved? When was a plugin activated or deactivated? What images were added to a specific page? Now, there’s a new tab in WordPress.com where you can see all your site’s activity outlined in an organized, readable way: It’s called Activity, because monitoring your site should be as simple as possible. Activity shows you a chronological list of all the changes and updates to your site. It’s useful for site owners who want to keep an eye on the big picture of their site, as well as for admins on larger sites with multiple contributors. Activity shows you things like: Published or updated posts and pages. Comment submission and management activity. Settings and options modifications. Login attempts by registered site users. Plugin installations, updates, and removals. Theme switches, installations, updates, and deletions. See the complete list of activities for WordPress.com and Jetpack sites. Head to Activity right now, and you’ll be able to see your site’s 20 most recent changes and updates. On WordPress.com or Jetpack sites with a paid plan you’ll see events from the last 30 days, and if you have the Business or Professional plan respectively, you’ll see events from the last year. All sites with a paid plan have the added ability to filter activities by type and time range so you can quickly find the information you’re looking for. To keep things scannable, sequential events of the same type are grouped in a single item — expand it to see details for all of the collected actions. Activity is also a great place for Jetpack subscribers to investigate site downtime or bugginess. See what changes happened around the time of the issue, and use the details to focus your troubleshooting and get back up and running, fast. You can also view your list of activities on the WordPress mobile apps. Stay up to date on the latest theme and plugin updates For sites with plugins and uploaded themes, keeping them up to date and knowing what was updated when are key to security and stability. Activity not only shows you all the details in one place, but lets Jetpack and WordPress.com Business plan subscribers update themes and plugins directly from the Activity tab. We’re constantly striving to be better Give Activity a try on your sites and let us know if you have any feedback — we’d love to hear it! Please leave a comment below or open an issue in our GitHub repository.

New Theme: Photos

Today we’re happy to introduce Photos, an image-centric theme with a clean layout and a design that showcases your favorite snapshots. When we designed Photos, we put extra care into making it look and feel great on mobile devices. But that’s only one of the theme’s highlights — here are a few others. Photos first: Photos features a familiar three-column grid to display your photos on your blog’s homepage, archive pages, and search results. The full-width grid appears on smartphones and tablets. It scales up to a fixed-width grid on desktop and laptop displays. Mobile navigation: When visitors view your site on a mobile device, the menu button is fixed at the bottom of the page, closer to your thumbs. The menu then slides up from the bottom, keeping your site-navigation items within easy reach. Standard fonts: Photos uses system fonts — fonts that are already available on mobile devices and computers — rather than loading its own custom fonts. This reduces page-load time, and benefits people browsing your site on mobile devices or slower internet connections. Like in any other WordPress.com theme, you can always change the font using the Customizer. No sidebar: For a more consistent experience between desktop and mobile screens, Photos has a single-column, no-sidebar layout. This helps sites retain the same look and feel regardless of the device your visitors use to view it. You can learn more about Photos by checking out the Showcase page or the theme’s demo site!

National Voter Registration Day 2018

Did you know that today is National Voter Registration Day?  At Automattic, our mission is to make it easier for people to speak their mind and connect with communities across (and beyond) the web — every WordPress.com website, and every blog post you publish with the tools we build, is part of a broader conversation. With the midterm elections coming up in the U.S. in November, we’re thrilled to announce that we’re a proud member of the TurboVote Challenge, a coalition of companies that champion civic engagement. Managed by the nonprofit organization Democracy Works, the TurboVote Challenge is a long-term, nonpartisan alliance of companies and brands that share a simple belief: democracy works better when more people participate. The goal of the TurboVote Challenge is to help reach an 80 percent voter turnout in the U.S. by 2024. Automattic has joined more than 40 other members, including Amazon, Google, Starbucks, Target, Lyft, and MTV. As part of this initiative, we’re also excited to team up with the Civic Culture Coalition, who recently launched I am a voter., a nonpartisan public-awareness campaign to increase turnout in the 2018 midterm elections. The campaign shows how stunningly easy it is to register to vote — in fact, registering takes three minutes (or less!). If you’re eligible to vote in the U.S., please make sure you’re registered today. Visit I am a voter. Still not sure voting should be on your to-do list this November? Did you know that… Hundreds, if not thousands, of races are decided by a single vote every year. When a local election is tied, the winner is sometimes decided by flipping a coin. Roughly two-thirds of Americans say low participation is a major problem with the current election system. All 435 House seats and 35 Senate seats are up for election in November. More than half of all governors — 36 out of 50 — will be elected in the upcoming cycle. This November, millennials will make up the largest voting bloc for the first time. If 50 percent of voters show up this November, it would be the highest midterm turnout in a century. Aren’t these great reasons to get involved and register to vote? Thank you for your participation and thank you for being a voter! #iamavoter

Try Simplenote, Our Fast and Easy-to-Use Notes App

A great note-taking app can help with all kinds of daily routines like taking class notes, writing a shopping list, or jotting down ideas for your next great blog post. At Automattic, we love using Simplenote, which is an easy way to create notes, lists, and more. Our favorite part? It’s backed by a powerful sync engine that syncs notes across all of your devices swiftly and smoothly — and for free! — so our notes are accessible everywhere. The Simplenote experience is all about speed and efficiency. Open it, write some thoughts, and you’re done — saving and syncing happens automatically. As your collection of notes grows, find what you need fast by searching, and keep them organized with tags and pins. You can also share notes and publish them for other people. Simplenote for Windows Simplenote is also built to play nicely with WordPress.com. With the latest update to the app, you can sign in to the app using your WordPress.com account, so you have one fewer password to keep track of. Write something in the Simplenote mobile app and share it directly to the WordPress app, where it becomes a new post. And if you’re a fan of Markdown, your posts will be automatically formatted when published. Sharing a note to the WordPress App Simplenote is available for all of your devices, including iOS, macOS, Android, Windows, Linux, or you can use it on the web. Download it, give it a try, and let us know what you think!

New in the WordPress.com Business Plan: Jetpack Search

The WordPress.com Business plan combines fully managed hosting with the freedom to grow and scale your site without limits. Today we’re adding Jetpack Search to WordPress.com Business so you can enjoy powerful and fast on-site search functionality as part of your plan.   Once you activate Jetpack Search, you’ll be using the same search engine powering some of the largest sites on the web. Jetpack Search provides a more engaging experience for your visitors: it relies on modern search algorithms that take phrase matches and the recency of your content into consideration, which in turn produces better search results. In addition to more relevant matches, you can also configure the Jetpack Search sidebar widget to let your visitors sort their results or filter them by tags, categories, dates, and post types. Whether you run a news site or sell products on your online store, a more engaging search experience will help readers and customers dig deeper into the content on your site and keep them there for longer visits. As recently as three years ago, our enhanced search functionality was a $6,000-a-year add-on to our enterprise plan; we’ve since been able to scale the service and can now offer it as part of a Business plan that costs a fraction of the original price. Moreover, most search solutions come with limits on the total number of indexed posts or the number of monthly queries. Just like the rest of your WordPress.com Business site, unlimited is the name of the game. We want your business to be successful, so we don’t place arbitrary limits on the amount of content or number of searches that your visitors can run. You can join the thousands of websites already using Jetpack Search by upgrading your site to WordPress.com Business today. How to Enable Jetpack Search If you don’t already have it, go to the Plans page and add WordPress.com Business to your site. Go to My Sites → Settings → traffic to enable Jetpack Search on your site. If you want to enable sidebar filtering, customize your site and add the Search (Powered by Jetpack) widget. Configuration of filters is simple and can be done with a few clicks. Read more about this new feature on the Jetpack Search support page.

Introducing the Simple Payment Widget

Since the introduction of the Simple Payment Button, we’ve been looking for more ways to streamline payments on WordPress.com and Jetpack-enabled sites. Today, we’re introducing a new variant of the Simple Payment Button, available to WordPress.com Premium and Business plan subscribers and to Jetpack sites on Premium and Professional plans. Take payments anywhere on your site with the Simple Payment Widget Use the Simple Payment Widget to add a quick payment option to the sidebar or footer of your WordPress.com or Jetpack site. (If you have Jetpack site, make sure its running version 6.3.3 or higher.) Then add the widget to your site via the Customizer, by going to Personalize → Customize → Widgets. Using the Customizer You’ll be able to select an existing Simple Payment Button or create a new one to add to your sidebar, header, or footer. Simple Payment Widget on a Site’s Footer The widget also gives you the ability to manage all of your products or services from the Customizer — set pricing, add images, and write product description right in the widget settings: Edit a Product on the Customizer Once you’ve create multiple payment buttons, you can choose between them any time you add the Simple Payment Widget. And any button you create or edit via the Customizer is instantly available to use on the rest of your site, on any post or page. Add a product created on the Customizer to any page or post. We hope you enjoy this new feature and make the most of it. Let us know what you think in the comments! And if you run into any issues setting up your new widget, take a look at the support documentation or reach out to support.

Podcasting on WordPress.com

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of podcasts — their beautiful storytelling and engaging news delivery add a whole new dimension to the media landscape — and podcasters. We happily support podcast creators, from sponsoring events like Podcast Movement to supporting embeds from services like RadioPublic. Did you know that WordPress.com allows you to host your own podcast, right from your WordPress.com website? And we’ve recently updated our podcasting tools, simplifying the process of starting or managing your podcast. Whether you’re about to hit “record” on your first podcast or have used WordPress.com for your podcast for years, we think you’ll love these updates. Configuring Your Podcast Channel We’ve redesigned the Podcasting Settings page to be faster and more intuitive. Visit Settings > Writing > Podcasting to set up and manage your podcast channel. Pick a podcast category, add details like your podcast’s title and cover image, and you’re ready to go. The new Podcasting Settings page. Creating and Editing Podcast Episodes The post editor also got some new indicators to make it more apparent when you’re creating or editing a podcasting episode. To publish an episode, create a new post, assign it the podcast category you designated on the Settings page, and upload or embed an audio file. A podcast episode in the post episode. Added Support for Google Play, Spotify, and Alexa Behind the scenes, we’ll do the heavy lifting to support services like Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, and even Alexa Daily Briefings. Submit your feed to each service once, and then publish episodes whenever inspiration strikes! We’ll make sure every episode gets listed. My first episode on Apple Podcasts! Podcasts can add a new dimension to any site — and they encourage visitors to subscribe and return frequently. If you have requests for other updates to our podcasting tools, let us know in the comments! We’ll continue to refine our podcasting support. In the meantime, you might want to check out some of these great podcasts that are already hosted on WordPress.com: Bundyville: “A never-before-heard chronicle of the rise, fall and resurgence of the Bundy family, the armed uprisings they inspired and the fight over the future of the American West.” – from Longreads, in partnership with Oregon Public Broadcasting. You Are Not So Smart: “A show about psychology that celebrates science and self delusion.” – hosted by David McRaney. You’re Wrong About…: A podcast “about historical events or famous people that the public has forgotten or misremembered” – hosted by Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall. Hilltown Family Variety Show: A community radio show from Western Massachusetts that’s been around since 2007!

Sharing Options from WordPress.com to Facebook Are Changing

We wanted to update you about an upcoming change Facebook is introducing to their platform, and which affects how you may share posts from your WordPress.com website to your Facebook account. Starting August 1, 2018, third-party tools can no longer share posts automatically to Facebook Profiles. This includes Publicize, the tool for WordPress.com and Jetpack-powered sites that connects your site to major social media platforms (like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook). Will this affect your ability to share content on Facebook? It depends. If you’ve connected a Facebook Profile to your site, then yes: Publicize will no longer be able to share your posts to Facebook. On the other hand, nothing will change if you keep a Facebook Page connected to your site — all your content should still appear directly on Facebook via Publicize. (Not sure what the difference is between a Page and a Profile? Here’s Facebook’s explanation.) If you’ve previously connected a Facebook Profile to your WordPress.com site and still want your Facebook followers to see your posts, you have two options. First, you could go the manual route: once you publish a new post, copy its URL and share the link in a new Facebook post. (You can also share right from the WordPress mobile apps after a scheduled post goes live.) The other option is to convert your Facebook Profile to a Page. This might not be the right solution for everyone, but it’s something to consider if your website focuses on your business, organization, or brand. While Facebook is introducing this change to improve their platform and prevent the misuse of personal profiles, we know that this might cause a disruption in the way you and your Facebook followers interact. If you’d like to share your concerns with Facebook, head to their Help Community. In the meantime, WordPress.com’s Publicize feature (and social media scheduling tools) will continue to be available to you for posting to Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms.

Welcome Atavist! A Groundbreaking Publishing Platform Joins the WordPress.com Family

Today we’re announcing that Atavist, a multimedia publishing platform and award-winning magazine, will be joining WordPress.com parent company Automattic. This news is exciting to me on a few levels — eight years ago I had my first introduction to Atavist when I met a journalist named Evan Ratliff for coffee at Housing Works in New York. He showed me the first pieces of what became a bold new platform for long-form storytelling, which he created with co-founders Jefferson Rabb and Nicholas Thompson. At the time I had just started Longreads, so we shared an interest in seeing a revival for long-form journalism on the open web. Fast-forward to today and we’re thrilled to have the Atavist and Longreads teams now together under the WordPress.com banner. Atavist’s publishing platform will be moving over to WordPress, and its award-winning magazine The Atavist will continue to serve up outstanding in-depth storytelling with a new feature each month, under the editorship of Seyward Darby. Also joining the team is Atavist CEO Rabb and head of product communications Kathleen Ross. I chatted with Rabb, Darby, and Ross about what’s next. Jeff, Seyward, Kathleen, we’re excited you’re here! You’ve had a terrific run over the past eight years — leading innovation around the design and process of multimedia storytelling, winning many awards along the way — what are your hopes and priorities for Atavist moving forward? RABB: Thank you, I’m thrilled to be here! My number one hope in joining [WordPress.com parent company] Automattic is to bring everything we have built and learned to an audience that is orders of magnitude larger. I’ve spent the past eight years honing a toolset and sensibility for digital journalism, and now I’m excited to put this to use for a mass audience. When these are integrated into WordPress, I am hoping we will have an unbeatable product for storytelling and journalism. There are many fascinating challenges and problems in journalism today, and now more than ever I want to be part of the solution. DARBY: I’m also excited to be here! I’ve been at The Atavist Magazine for the last 15 months, and it’s the best job I’ve ever had. The list of things I love about our publication is too long to include in full, but some highlights are the intimate collaborations with creators, the anchoring belief in the timeless power of cinematic storytelling, and the commitment to nurturing the next generation of long-form writers. Certainly, we work with big-name journalists, but we’re also a magazine that supports up-and-coming narrative writers who want to take a swing at a really, really big story. I love nothing more than helping someone crack the code on a 15,000-word feature’s complex structure. (I’m a big fan of Post-It notes and story trees, and of fist-pumping to no one in particular when an article section falls into place.) Moving forward, the magazine’s foundational priorities will remain the same: We’ll tell great stories, design them beautifully, treat our collaborators well, and have a lot of fun in the process. My hope is that, by combining forces with WordPress.com, we’ll get to push the boundaries of our projects: dive into more multi-part narrative investigations, produce more original video or audio where it makes good sense, improve the diversity of our roster of writers and artists, and provide journalists with the resources and time they need to report the hell out of topics they’re passionate about. Winning awards and getting our stories optioned for film/TV, which we also have a strong track record of doing, will be goals, absolutely, but never at the expense of providing a quality experience to every person who contributes to or reads The Atavist. Tell us about some of your favorite stories you’ve hosted. DARBY: I’m proud of every story I’ve shepherded as the executive editor, so it’s hard for me to pick favorites. The most successful Atavist stories share the same key ingredients: a propulsive, satisfying narrative, rich characters, and scenes that make readers feel immersed in the world the writer is describing. At first blush, Kenneth R. Rosen’s story “The Devil’s Henchmen,” about what is being done with the bodies of the ISIS dead in Mosul, doesn’t seem to have much in common with Amitha Kalaichandran’s “Losing Conner’s Mind,” about a family’s quest to save a child from a rare, fatal disease; Allyn Gaestel’s “Things Fall Apart,” about an over-hyped art installation in Nigeria; Mike Mariani’s “Promethea Unbound,” about the tortured life of a child genius; or David Mark Simpson’s “Not Fuzz,” about a millionaire hotelier who moonlights as a serial police impersonator. Yet these stories all have compelling plots about everyday people whose lives are shaped by sheer will and unpredictable circumstance. You can’t put them down because you want to know what’s going to happen. As for Atavist stories that predate my time at the magazine, I’ll award a few superlatives. Quirkiest goes to Jon Mooallem’s “American Hippopotamus,” about a bizarre plan to alter the national diet. Most Lyrical goes to Leslie Jamison’s “52 Blue,” about the world’s loneliest whale. Most Ambitious goes to Evan Ratliff’s epic “The Mastermind,” about a crime lord whose empire spanned pretty much the whole world. (It’s soon to be a book and TV show.) And Couldn’t Get It Out of My Head goes to Will Hunt and Matt Wolfe’s “The Ghosts of Pickering Trail,” about a family living in a haunted house. I’ll stop there, but I really could go on and on. ROSS: Before I worked for Atavist, I actually worked right down the hall, so I have been reading the magazine for a long time. To me, the best Atavist Magazine stories are transporting: in “Welcome to Dog World,” Blair Braverman shows us Alaska; socialites head to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for an early feminist victory in “The Divorce Colony” by April White; and James Verini’s “Love and Ruin” (the title story of our 2016 collection) is a romance and historical epic all in one, and I think about Nancy Hatch Dupree’s library in Afghanistan often. “A Family Matter” may be one of the most important stories we’ve done. Finally, I love stories about spectacular failures, so I have to mention Mitch Moxley’s article “Sunk,” which is about a disastrous attempt to make an epic movie about mermaids; plus, the piece has some excellent moments of maximalist design, including pixelated fish that bob across the page. RABB: I have a soft spot for the very first stories such as “Lifted,” “Piano Demon,” and “My Mother’s Lover.” In addition to being great pieces of writing, they were the petri dishes in which our experimental approach to storytelling was born. They included ideas such as pop-up annotations, maps, and immersive sound elements. Even though the way we distribute our articles has changed dramatically since those stories were published—back then, they were exclusively on the Atavist mobile app and Kindle—many of the concepts and approaches in them formed the DNA of our company’s product. Developing those first few stories was an exciting and vital time for me. Finally, I’m wondering what you think about the state of storytelling on the open web today. Where do you think things are headed? DARBY: There are so many stories being told in the digital space right now, in so many ways, and to so many different audiences. Take SKAM Austin, which D.T. Max recently wrote about for The New Yorker. It’s a teen drama told entirely through Facebook posts, Instagram stories, texts, and other digital scraps and marginalia—a story crafted for its young target audience, based on the way they consume information and communicate with one another. That project is fictional, but there’s similar experimentation happening in the non-fiction space. Certainly, publications are pushing the envelope on transmedia (multi-platform storytelling) and rethinking story structure based on how events now unfold in real time in the palm of your hand. I’m thinking of projects like WIRED‘s story on police brutality, “How Social Media Shaped the Three Days That Shook America,” and National Geographic‘s partnership with ProPublica, “How the U.S. Triggered a Massacre in Mexico.” Recently, I was a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Lab, an incubator for storytellers who work with emerging technologies like VR, AR, and AI. It was incredible to hear the ways that this diverse group is reimagining how to create and deliver narratives. I can’t wait for all of the projects they were workshopping to be out in the world, and I hope to bring what I learned there to bear on my work at Automattic. That said, I’m a journalist first, and when it comes to technology, I always have this nagging fear that form might compromise substance. No one should tell a story entirely via social media or VR or video just because they can; they should do so because there’s actual benefit—to the story itself, to the audience reached, and so on. I’m reminded of my very first job out of college, back in the aughts. I was a journalist in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and I also conducted research on media training needs in the region. I met lots of aspiring journalists who said, “This international NGO helped me set up a blog, but I don’t even really know how to conduct an interview or fact-check. Can someone help me with that?” The experience has always stuck with me as a reminder that the basics of great journalism should apply no matter the platform. At The Atavist, we like to say that story comes first, and by that we mean plot and accuracy, then form and reach.

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