Hello Fellow Blissdom Canada Attendees!

Like many other web-savvy Canadian women, I will be attending Blissdom Canada this weekend. This conference is in its second year, and after the great time I had last year, I was thrilled to be able to attend again. The #blissdomcanada hashtag has been going nuts for weeks. Lots of folks returning, and lots of new people coming. We’re all so excited to meet and learn from each other. Never mind all the talking that can be done outside of 140 characters!

I plan to meet and talk with as many people as I can. Like lots of people who spend a significant amount of time online, I can be shy, but once I get talking, I may not stop! (I’ll try to rein that in, so you can talk too!)

If we’ve never met before (online or off), here’s an introduction of sorts:

  • hellomelissa.net is my personal blog. I’ve been blogging since 2000 and have done so under several domains and platforms (my About page tells this story in more detail). I write about my life and issues that are important to me. I don’t write as much as I’d like, and I’m hoping that this conference gives me some much-needed inspiration.
  • My twitter account is @mpricemitchell.
  • You can follow/friend me at various sites by either checking out the “follow me” widget in my sidebar, or by visiting my about.me page.
  • I have a fulltime job outside of the social media sphere, so I’m not in the know about every little thing going on out there. That bums me out sometimes.
  • I live in Toronto with my husband, daughter, cat and dog. I’m originally from a small town so I’m not completely city-fied yet.

That’s enough about me. I can’t wait to learn more about you! Hope to see you there and have a chat. If you see me at a table by myself, come join me! I’m not saving seats – I’m passively networking, hoping you’ll come sit with me!


This site got some care and feeding this week beyond the usual plugin, theme and WordPress updates that seem to happen every time I log in. I’ve added a sitemap and a blogroll. Both feel like delightfully retro additions to the site, but I’ve never bothered with them before.

This tutorial will help you create a blogroll using Google Reader. I ended up creating multiple blogrolls for the different types of sites I subscribe to in Google Reader. I did this mostly so I could break up the links into smaller lists. This feature has been available in Google Reader since 2007 so I’m definitely late on the adoption curve. However, I now have an accurate list that is easy to update and maintain. And since it syncs with Google Reader, it will always reflect who I am actually subscribed to and reading.

The sitemap was done for more pragmatic reasons. I’ve heard that having a sitemap increases the chances of having Google crawl your site, so I’ve done that.

Saying that makes me feel a little dirty. I’ve been blogging long before traffic and SEO were issues. Since this is a personal site, it feels weird to do things that increase my odds of getting web traffic.

The counter-argument is “well, you’re posting stuff online, so obviously you want people to read it.” And yes, I do want people to read what I write. It’s not the main reason I write online, but it’s certainly a valid reason.

So I’m trying to tweak some stuff to increase my chances. Feels dirty, but if it works, it works. In the meantime, I’ll try to write thoughtful posts that don’t just exploit SEO tactics and all the internet marketing machines that feel dirty and strange to me.

Obligatory Anniversary Post

April 1 2011 is the 11th anniversary of my first public blog post. I’m not linking it, but you’re welcome to dig through my archives and find it.

I posted much more frequently back then, but many of those posts were only a couple of sentences long. Some were only tweet-length. Many things probably shouldn’t have been posted, but the site certainly makes for an interesting time capsule of my 20s, and now my 30s. (I was 21 when I started blogging. I turn 33 in August, if you were wondering.)

My blog has seen me through a lot of major milestones:

  • My first major job (I’d been working there for nearly a year by the time I’d started but I was still pretty green, especially when you see some of the things I was willing to say. Nothing truly trashy, but I was sure open to admitting that I was writing instead of working. I was meeting my deadlines and targets, but I still want to pat my 21-22 year-old self on the head and say “shut up Melissa!”
  • My move into Toronto (I really don’t miss that Oshawa > Toronto work commute)
  • Getting engaged, buying a house and getting married within 13 months.
  • Pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood
  • And all the little milestones in-between that don’t make all the sappy banking or life insurance commercials but are still important

Just for kicks, here are some links to how my site has looked over the years using the Wayback Machine (which is pretty neat in itself). Dates indicate when the site was crawled.

I learned a lot about web design during the early days of my site. I used to hand code the layout and Blogger took care of the rest. Then I started using Blogger’s built-in themes with some customization. When I moved to Vox.com, I relied on pre-built themes which were super-easy to change. I do that now with WordPress as well. I love that I can concentrate less on the structure and more on the content.

I enjoy blogging because I like having a place I can write and say what I want. This place can be a journal, a soapbox, a place for general information, or whatever I want. I have complete creative control. And that feeling is awesome. Reading, and eventually meeting great people due to blogging is such an amazing bonus. I blog for me first, but I’ve learned from so many people over the years and I am grateful for each and every one of you.

If you’re a blogger, did you expect to get hooked? What sucked you in?

My WordPress site was hacked yesterday – here’s how I fixed it

I was off for Family Day yesterday and I had planned to spend Flora’s naptime getting some writing done for this site.

(Sean was trying to spend his time catching up on some work. Our priorities may be a little messed up here.)

It was bad enough that Flora wouldn’t nap, but then I discovered that my site was hacked. So that put a stop to any writing I planned to do.

Let’s say this again. My site – my tiny little site – was hacked. You’d think this meant that I have hit the big time and that my site was worth hacking, but my stats don’t reflect this. I think this jagoff decided to hack my site just because he could. (I assume said jagoff is male – the name on my hacked page read as male, but maybe I’m wrong. Either way, still a jagoff.)

So I spent Flora’s non-naptime trying to remedy the problem. Trying to fix a web problem I’ve never had before with a non-napping toddler hanging off my every move wasn’t very effective. I did what I could, then got back to it after she went to bed. I went to bed with the site up but unsure of how to keep this from happening again. I did lots of Googling but I was having trouble with the more complicated concepts. I’ve been blogging a long time, but I’m fairly new to WordPress, so fixing its issues takes more time for me.

These articles helped me, and I’m posting them here in case you need them for your own site. (I hope you don’t.)

I’ve done most of the things these articles mention and I hope they’ll help against future attacks.

This is a big reminder to keep regular backups. I was able to restore the site because I had been backing up my database. Had I not done that, I could have gotten the site back up, but with no content. What’s the point of that?

So back up your stuff and do whatever you can to protect yourself. Hackers even want the little personal sites, not just the big guys.

(Note that these tips apply to self-hosted WordPress sites, not WordPress.com sites.)

#reverb10 – Reflect and manifest

I keep saying “I want to write more” so I decided to do something about it.

I signed up for #reverb10 which their website describes as

“an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. The end of the year is an opportunity to reflect on what’s happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead. With Reverb 10, we’ll do both.”

I’ve never done this sort of thing before. No NaNoWriMo. No NaBloPoMo. No 30 Days of Truth (I considered that one but didn’t like all the questions at first glance.) My posting frequency is spotty at best, so I don’t know how successful this will be. Especially in December which is a very busy month.

But small steps first.

First I signed up.

Then I put up this nifty graphic in my sidebar:

Then I tweeted my intent:

Then I got a really nice reply from the organizers:

Then I wrote this post.

I’ve said it out loud in several places. I really have to go for it now.

I’m still not sure if I can write one self-reflective post a day for a whole month, but like the mysterious “they” say, you’ll never know if you don’t try.

Wish me luck and let me know if you are participating as well. I’m enjoying the community-feel of this project and want to be sure I take part in that aspect of it as much as I do the writing aspect.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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