Back to Blogging After a Break – Check Out What’s New

Enhancing the blog with new features for community members

- | 111 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Blogging

Woman happy with new feautres

Whoa! It’s been about a month I’ve been away! I cannot believe that I took such a long break from blogging. I am sure neither can you, but I am glad to be back. 🙂

I hope you all are doing great and are in the best of your health and spirits. You have been in my heart and thoughts all the time.

Honestly, I have missed you all and I confess that I did want to resume blogging hardly midway during my summer break. I had to do a lot of self-convincing to hold myself back!

There is always a lot to do in blogging. I know I have missed a lot, but it is never too late, because you can re-start anytime, and there is always scope for lots of work and progress.

My mantra is to be positive. I always look ahead – the past is only there to teach us lessons, and you should never let it bog you down or make you sad.

You experience real happiness by being in the present moment and in your positive attitude about the future.

Instead of the missed opportunities, I see great scope and possibilities.

Optimism is not an option but a compulsory quality to have in life for success, growth, and to bring happiness into your life.

Before I start blabbering about what’s new on the blog and brief you about my fresh blogging plans, I know you want to know all that I did in my break. This holiday surely recharged me!

So, here’s a short account of my blogging break. 🙂

My Blogging Break

I took the break for myself and my family, and I’m happy that I did 🙂

Among the things I did was going on a short vacation to a hill station with my family and met my cousins.

I realized what good your family and relationships can do to your life. Being with them makes you feel good and you cherish those moments for a long time.

Apart from the real world socializing and traveling, I indulged in one of my love of life, which is cooking!

Oh yes, I love to cook! In fact, my children were the ones anxiously looking forward to my break for this reason. They didn’t spare me and wanted me to cook something new every second day! 🙂

But blogging did not completely leave my mind, and while cooking too, I had thoughts of starting a cooking section on Aha!NOW!

The thought – “Why not have travel and food categories too on the blog?” kept buzzing like a bee in my mind. Well, I’d love to know what you think of the idea. 🙂

During my blogging break, I also attended the wedding of a relative’s son. For those who are not aware, the Indian weddings are a long affair and the various celebration events can keep you busy for many days.

Whew! I had to take my time to rest after such a hectic break, which even though kept me away from blogging, but kept me busy otherwise.

It was in the first week of this month that I actually started working on the blog along with my husband, Vinay.

We decided to make some changes and bring on some new features. I’d like you to know them all.

New blog features

Starting New Blog Features

Aha!NOW is blessed with a great blog community. I am grateful to all the visitors, readers, and commentators for creating such an active and engaging environment.

It’s no secret that the interactions and discussions are the key features of Aha!NOW that perhaps makes it a little different from other blogs.

We decided to work on our strengths and develop it further. We looked for a few options to enhance the interactions and discussions on the blog, and settled on two of them.

Active interactions and discussions with BuddyPress and bbPress

Since the WordPress theme we use at Aha!NOW is BuddyPress and bbPress ready, it did not take much thought to incorporate them on the blog.

But it did take time trying out the various features, making dummy friends, for which we had to keep the blog on maintenance mode for a few days.

By enabling BuddyPress and bbPress, we now have four cool features to increase and improve the Aha!NOW blog community engagements.

1- Connections

Until now, you could only interact with other community members through comments on the blog posts.

Now, you can connect with rest of the Aha!NOW community members in a more better and direct way.

You can know who the other members are on the member’s page, what they’re doing in the activity stream, and whether they’re online too in the sidebar widget.

You can also check out their profiles, learn more about them, and decide if you’d like to connect with them and want them to be your friends.

2- Making Friends

There are great chances that you’ll find more like-minded friends on Aha!NOW. The reason is simple – you all are here because of common interests, and that is the biggest bond-creating factor in friendship.

You can send the other community members a friendship request. If they approve it, then you can add them to your friends list and even make a group of friends, or be part of many groups of community members.

To increase your interactions with friends and within the groups, you can message them publicly or privately.

3- Messaging

You can always update your status, just like Facebook, which will go out to all the community members directly from your profile.

If you happen to view the profile of another community member, you can always write on their wall to convey your thoughts.

However, you can also send them a private message, for their eyes only.

You can comment on the messages, like them, delete them, and even spam them to report to the admin if they are bothering you.

The admins and moderators will make sure that you’re not troubled and have a pleasant experience on Aha!NOW.

4- Forums

Having taken care of the interactions, it’s the turn of discussions to take a new and advanced form.

You know that I always wanted to create a platform on Aha!NOW where people can share their problems, seek solutions, and help each other.

I find the forums as the perfect alternative to the “Share Your Problems & Solutions” (SYPS) posts. I’ve created a forum for each category on Aha!NOW and would be open to suggestions to create more if required.

I preferred a central discussion area so everybody benefits from all the discussions. All forums are open and public as of now, except a few that are created by the admins.

A Few More Blog Changes

There are a few changes that might not be very obvious but I hope they will be welcomed by the Aha!NOW blog community.

Commenting System

The other biggest change we made was replacing the CommentLuv commenting system with the Jetpack commenting system.

I can see a few raised eyebrows, frowns, quizzed, surprised and all kinds of looks on the faces of my blogging friends!

You might like to readAre Blog Comments Really Required

Don’t get me wrong – CommentLuv commenting system is great and I still recommend it, especially for the newbie bloggers – to adopt it in their initial blogging days.

I am going to try out the new commenting system to see the results, or else would be back with CommentLuv of course. 🙂

My reasons to remove CommentLuv were its increasing disuse by commentators and never-ending broken links. More so, this step was highly recommended by Harsh in his recent interview.

You can even read about it in his post about how to moderate comments.

I did my best to mend and sort the broken links, but I wanted a commenting system that would bring more comfort and convenience at this stage of blogging.

I surveyed and found that most WordPress users opt either for the native WordPress or Jetpack commenting system.

The edge Jetpack has is that it allows social logins, which I’m sure will help many of my non-blogging audience.

I am sure that all bloggers are aware of Google’s recent changes in linking policy and the emphasis on co-citation and co-occurrence. You never know that Google might take the Russian road and decide to make a linkless web.

In any case, the link love that you receive from the Aha!NOW forum profile page and from within the blog posts will be of much higher value.

I think you would succeed more in taking people back to your blog by actively participating in the community activities including forums, than just by leaving the post links in the comments.

Thumps up badge

Achievement System

I always wanted to give back to my community and reward them. That’s why I chose an achievement and badging system.

Now, the registered community members will get points and earn badges for their activities on the blog, interactions with the community, and discussions on the forums.

You can maximize your points earning potential by contributing your knowledge and experience, as well as by increasing your participation in the community activities.

I’m in the process of creating and finalizing the rules for this system, but for now, I’d suggest you try out all the new features of the blog to start earning points.

I’m planning the incentives and awards for the achievers.

Besides the badges, I’m thinking of providing an opportunity to feature the top achievers as guest bloggers on Aha!NOW and have some free giveaways to the Aha!NOW community members.

Look out for the newsletter where I’ll inform you about the final achievement and award point system.

If you aren’t yet a subscriber, you can join now by subscribing to the newsletter to keep in touch with the latest developments at the blog.

Join and receive FREE updates.

Besides, I am also shifting the blogging schedule from the earlier Tuesday and Friday posts, to posting on Monday and Thursday now – so stay tuned for the next post on Monday!

Your Feedback as a Community Member

So, what do you think? I know there would be mixed feelings and thoughts; I’d honestly like to know them all.

My intention is to give the best to my blog community, which I know, consists of bloggers and non-bloggers too.

Though the changes I’ve made are going to stay for some time, considerable enough to bring out results for a comprehensive analysis, I’ll keep the option open to revert to the old system.

I always like to make changes in life as well as on the blog. This is a new experiment and its final status will depend on YOU – my awesome Aha!NOW blog community.

I feel that the new activities and forums can also increase the participation of my non-blogging friends and help them integrate with the greatly active blogging community.

I want you to try out all the features and let me know the ones you like and the ones you don’t. Also, suggest the changes and improvements I should make.

Please read this post with all the detailed information on how to go about using the new features.

Blogging is all about CED (Content + Engagement + Discussions). This is our effort to make Aha!NOW an enhanCED blog.

Have a ball and enjoy your new experience on Aha!NOW. We’re still in the process of rolling out some of the changes, so please bear with us if you have any inconvenience – but do report them to us.

Share Your Thoughts

What do you think about the new blog features and the changes on Aha!NOW?

Join the discussions on this topic in the forum, or create a new topic in the blogging forum to share your thoughts and experiences. Or, contribute your awesome comments as you do normally in the comment box at the end of the post.

Either way, I’d love to hear from you.

Take care and be blessed. 🙂

Photo Credits: FreeDigitalPhotos

Don’t forget to rate the post and give your vote! Thanks. 🙂



Show Comments

111 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Vernon Layne

    December 25, 2014 at 1:04 am

    Wow Harleena it looks like I joined right after the upgrade. 😀

    I’m glad you took time off for your family and for yourself. It’s easy to get so involved in writing and blogging that we forget that ‘rest’ plays a major part in our success. You set an excellent example for us in more ways than one.

    It was good to see how far your blog has come and I know it wasn’t always easy for you and your husband. But the evidence is in the way you support each other’s vision and dreams.

    I know this community will only get better. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.

  2. Abrar Mohi Shafee

    December 12, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    There were many changes you made. I’m totally surprised how easily you converted your blog into a community. It keeps me motivated to use blog not just a online diary, even it instructs me to work how to make a blog into a community.

  3. Mitch Mitchell

    November 22, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Well, the only part I can actually comment on at this juncture is where you took a break away from blogging. I think I talked to either you or Bren Lee on G+ about this, since both of you took short breaks.

    I took one on purpose last year when I just had to get away for a week, but I actually stayed away from all social media during that week. It was tougher than I imagined it would be but it also reminded me of how much I love being online. Sometimes we need that.

    Glad you came back, even if I’m way behind on all my reading and commenting. Now I have some time to read some of your posts and not have to worry about lots of people commenting after me. 🙂

  4. Hafeez Baig

    August 5, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Welcome Back Harleena,
    Your article has proven useful to me. It’s very informative and you are obviously very knowledgeable in this area. You have opened my eyes to varying views on this topic with interesting and solid content.

  5. Sudipto

    July 30, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Welcome Back Harleena,
    I like the new thoughts which you share with us and thee changes really seems interesting. Connecting with other member looking good and helpful.
    Taking break in any type of work is always helpful as it help us in getting new ideas.

  6. Chery Schmidt

    July 29, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Hello Harleena and Welcome Back,

    I to took a vacation in July and did NOT take my computer along and you know what? I Survived LOL It also taught me a few things 🙂 Like time for family is so important, I am happy you took the time off as well.

    I also like what are doing with your Blog A FORUM How Cool is that??

    Thanks for sharing..Chery :))

    P.S.I landed on your blog Via Kingged

  7. Ansh Gupta

    July 28, 2014 at 12:15 am

    Great article, indeed ! Yes, it is really true if you start blogging once, then it becomes difficult for you to stay away from doing blogging, but it is also important to give time to your dear ones.

  8. Atish Ranjan

    July 26, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Great that you took a break and spent time with your family. Its always good to take breaks from daily schedule because it refreshes you.

    Nice to read your upgrades on community, forum and the blog. 🙂

    Honestly speaking, I checked the community today only and its nice. Good work!

  9. Amit Kumar

    July 26, 2014 at 1:43 am

    I would just say the Welcome Back Harleena mam!!

    It’s nice to see you again active in this blogosphere. I hope you enjoyed this Blogging break very well and hope you have come along with so many planning and experiment.

    According to the new things mentioned in this article, you are going to do a very hard work and your Blog is going to grow effectively within very less time. I am looking forward to get some mesmerizing articles and tips and tricks from you.

    Thanks for this lovely & constructional post. I got this informative article on kingged.com

  10. I. C. Daniel

    July 20, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Ohhh I clearly remember Harsh said you don’t need CommentLUV anymore and what problems occur because of this plugin and I think you made a great decision by removing this plugin.

    About forum, what I don’t like is the way content is written, as you can see there’s CAPS LOCK and is hard to read, it should be normal letters in my opinion.

    Welcome back!

    • Zubair ismail

      July 25, 2014 at 9:11 pm

      Bundle of nice information is shared here. Quite useful for newbies like us…Thanks

  11. Nanda Rahmanius

    July 18, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    Glad to know you are back 😀
    Honestly, I several times visited your blog to see the latest post, but I don’t find it, I think you still enjoy your break and it looks like you have a nice holiday though 🙂

    Yes, I can see you are no longer using CommentLuv. I wish you luck in using the new commenting system and can share the results with us.

    Welcome back Harleena and I hope I can learn a lot from you 🙂

    Nanda

  12. Eyram

    July 15, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    Welcome back to blogging Harleena, you have been missed. I hope you had a good rest in the midst of the various activities and celebrations.
    And mine, those are quite some changes

  13. Neamat Tawadrous

    July 15, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    Welcome back dear, you were really missed!!

    Glad you enjoyed your vacation with your family and had a relaxing time which has clearly stimulated the creative ideas you brought to your blog.

    I have to say I love the changes you made and I got so excited by the addition of the forums. I can’t wait to see how all this unfolds in a month time or so especially with the CommentLuv.

    I loved the idea of adding a Travel and Cooking Section to your blog. I love cooking myself and I would be very interested in it and I like Angela’s idea of having a YouTube channel showing your recipes. That would be awesome.

    Still I have to have a look around to accommodate and understand all the changes you made. You sure have a creative mind.

    Thanks Harleena for the update about your blog and so glad you are back and energized. Have a great week ahead.

    Be Blessed,

    Neamat

  14. babanature

    July 15, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Harleena is back people 🙂 . Welcome back…

    From the look of your writing, it truly shows that you enjoyed your off days from blogging.

    You really did some positive changes here at your blog that i am sure will benefit you in the near future.

    Running a forum is quite fun and give rooms for more conversion and interaction. I too run a forum so i know how it goes. so bravo and welcome to the forum world 🙂

    For your cooking section, That would be a brilliant idea. Now your blog will look more like a magazine and more rooms for more topics 🙂

    To be honest with you, i prefer the native wordpress comment system because even people using a slow connection, will find it easy to comment.
    It took me like 2.5mins before my comment could be submitted with your new commenting system and that’s kinda look arhhhh…

    It’s great you remove the commentluv because it increases brokenlink and we all know that.

    Nice update Harlenna. Do have a lovely day 😉

  15. mayank

    July 15, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Awesome post,
    I am kind of new to your blog, but the blog has some seriously nice stuff that I found very interesting as well as informative.
    Keep up the good work!

  16. Kim

    July 15, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Welcome back!

    Love this quote! “”Instead of the missed opportunities, I see great scope and possibilities””

    Perfect.

    I agree w/ cooking/baking! Such Therapy.

    Btw, I can’t keep up with Comment Luv and all that stuff. I’ll need to check that out.

  17. Emmanuel

    July 15, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Hello Madam Harleena,

    I don’t know whether I might in sending to you your welcome message or not but all in all, there is nothing wrong in welcoming you back once more. Hahaha!

    wow! I hold my grudge against for not inviting me to the wedding. I always see Indian weddings through Indian movies and it will be a beautiful to experience one myself. Hahaha!

    With you now back and with those great you intend to implement on your blog, I totally do second you.

  18. Ravi Chahar

    July 15, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    Welcome back.:)

    I hope you have enjoyed with your family in the summer break.

    I have noticed some changes in the post of your blog. You have chosen different color for the subheadings in this post. It look good.;)

    Though I haven’t tried this commenting system but still people who love to read your posts will never deny to come at your blog.

    CommenLuv attracts visitors but it can’t buy the loyalty.
    You provide amazing information to your readers and they can’t stop visiting at your blog.

    I wish you to get positive results with all the changes.

    Have an amazing work session after holidays.:)

    ~Ravi

  19. Reginald

    July 14, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Harleena,

    Welcome back dear friend! Glad to see you rocking and can’t wait to read more of your writings.

    You know, you have been missed big time!

    Hope you have a great one and take care ya!

  20. Rohan Bhardwaj

    July 14, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Hi,

    The best thing you brought to the table was the forum and the opportunity to interact with the fellow bloggers.

    Your holiday was superb, Indian weddings, please tell me about it. It is more of a huge grand function where one has liberty to do anything as per wish, and where everything is getting attention except the marriage couples.

    Sometimes, all you need to do is improve by upgrading. Loved it. Welcome back! Anyway, I found your post on Kingged.

  21. Pauline Ludivico

    July 14, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Hi, Harleena! 🙂 It’s nice to see you online again. Welcome back to the internet world! 🙂

    You indeed had a long vacation, and hope you did enjoy your month of ignoring emails and distractions. Haha 🙂

    Well, Sunday is right. Since you have a long vacation, I’m pretty sure that you are now much more energized to do your online activities. On the other hand, I envy you. I do also want a long vacation, but I think this time would not be best for me.

    I will surely look forward to your new changes and improvement. Much excited! 🙂

    Thanks for this post! Have a wonderful day ahead. 🙂

    -Pauleen
    P.S. I’ve found this blog post shared on Kingged.com and leave the same message there.

  22. Sunday

    July 14, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Hi Harleena,
    You are welcome back! We miss you, and hope you had a good vacation! I expect you to be fully recharged since you chose to not even read your mail during the period 🙂
    Now that you are back from break, it would be cool looking forward to all the changes. I am keen to learn of the cook blogging you would will introduce 😀
    Really, I am looking forward to the “New and Improved” Aha!NOW!
    You are welcome back!

    I upvoted this post in kingged where it was shared for Internet marketers.




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Back to Blogging After a Break - Check Out What's New