Blogging with Astra WordPress Theme

It's a vicious cycle! Well maybe “vicious” is too strong of a word with all the craziness going on in the world today but it's an old cliche so I'm going with “vicious” for now until I think of something else.

First you find a great WordPress blog theme and maybe you try a few more until you find the one that is absolutely perfect for you. That's how it worked for me when I found Appendipity. It was the theme that checked off every single one of the boxes on my blog theme wish list.

Appendipity was great for podcasters with those gigantic “play” buttons everywhere. Social sharing was builtin and so was email list building. On top of that, the themes were mobile responsive (which was a big thing that themes like Thesis were missing back in those days), loaded quickly and they were gorgeous to look at.

And then, just like always, after a few months or so something in the online ecosphere changes drastically and leaves us flat on our backs!

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There always a major update to Google SEO, or one of the major Social Media platforms makes a significant change to their API, or (and this one is the worst) a government entity dips their toe in the internet waters and passes legislation that rewinds the clock on all the progress your blog has made since day one.and before you know it, you are back at the starting line — searching to find the perfect theme all over again! I guess I should be used to it by now. I mean I've been on this blogging hamster wheel for over a decade (oh wow, perhaps “hamster wheel” is a more appropriate term than “vicious cycle” in this instance).

Astra WordPress Theme Free Version

Although I turned the majority of my attention toward YouTube and Live Streaming, I never wanted to give up on WordPress or the idea of blogging in general. Every week I tune to to one of my favorite blogging podcasts to stay in the loop with what's going on with WordPress, SEO and Google's shenanigans (there I go again — is it ok for me to say shenanigans and Google in the same sentence?).

MaAnna Stephenson from Blog Aid hosts the Tips Tuesday podcast and that's where I first heard about Astra WordPress Theme. So when I found myself stepping back on to the “time to find a new blog theme hamster wheel” I decided to give Astra a try.

Watch this video for the back story.

Turn on Social Media Settings in Jetpack Plugin

So far I like Astra (affiliate link) but it just doesn't check off all the boxes like my old theme did, well at least not in the free version. One thing on my checklist that is sorely lacking is social media engagement tools. Once again I had to return to basics and found what I was looking for with the Jetpack plugin. I mention this is the video but here's a screenshot of the setting that you need to turn on after you install Jetpack.

Open Jetpack Settings and scroll wayyyy down the page until you see “Make extra widgets available for use …” Honestly, it's almost like they don't want you to find it! Here's what the widget looks like on the front end and the back end. I added icons with links to many of the places people can get “More Ms. Ileane” and put the widget in the footer area and main sidebar too.

Social sharing buttons are now present under each blog post, this is the interface. You can go on a scavenger hunt for this too or just click on Settings > Sharing in your WordPress dashboard 😂

If you are looking for a more sophisticated, elegant solution (paid), you can check out Social Warfare, this is my affiliate link for it.

I have a video tutorial you can watch to see what it offers.

I'm sure I'll go back to using Social Warfare again as soon as the traffic on the blog picks back up. That's it for now and I'm back to optimizing for keywords and all those other SEO shenanigans. In the meantime, if you have something to say you can send me a Tweet or leave a comment over on YouTube. But if it's really important, click the contact link at the top of the page.

Here I go again ya'll!

~Stay beautiful