When I decided to start a blog in 2011, I really didn’t know where to start. There was lots of information out there, but what I really wanted was an example. I saw blogs I liked but I didn’t know how they did things. So, here are all the details on how I did this blog, with relevant links. I will update from time to time.
Platform: WordPress.org. The good news: Its free and very flexible. The bad news, there are thousands of choices for everything. On 3/12/12 I upgraded to WordPress 3.3.1 from 3.2.1. A lot of good stuff here, like drag and drop file uploads. I haven’t tried all of them yet, but I will.
Host: GoDaddy.com. I got my url there, and subscribed to hosting service for 1 year. The account came with a free WordPress installation. Wordpress is free for any domain, but they gave good support on the installation. In fact, I am happy with their support in general. I call, someone answers, and they seem to know what they are doing.
9/16/12 The idolbuster was one of the millions of hosted websites that went down in the big Godaddy outage. They handled it extremely well. They acknowledged the problem right away on Twitter, and afterwards send an apology email explaining what happened, let me know corrective action had been taken to prevent it from happening again, and gave me a one month credit as compensation for the lost time.
Current Template: Eleven40 from Studiopress. http://www.studiopress.com/themes/eleven40
My first template, ZeeBusiness, was free. I liked it, but right after I launched The Idolbuster, the guy who created the theme decided that he couldn’t support it because he wasn’t making money, and then WordPress came out with a new version 3.3. I was afraid to upgrade because it wasn’t supported.
In February 2012 I decided to purchase the Eleven40 theme from a company called Studiopress (http://www.studiopress.com/themes/eleven40). It was $79 for a lifetime subscription, with unlimited support and upgrades. I had seen a lot of blogs and websites that use Studiopress themes, and have been impressed. Linda Lee from Askmepc.com suggested that I upgrade to a commercial theme because the free one’s tend to have bugs and be susceptible to spammers. (That was true for me. I got >200 spam messages in the 2 months I had themeZee.) Linda’s advice was good, and she gave me an hour of free help because I bought the theme through a link she sent me. The downside was that it took me a lot of time to set up all of my widgets in the new theme.
Bottom line: if you are starting, I suggest a free wordpress theme by WordPress. It will get you started, and be bug free. Then, when you have the hang of things, buy a theme from Studiopress.
Akismet as spam protection
Feedburner form for the RSS feed. I am having trouble with it as of 3/2/12. On 3/6/12 I gave up on both this plugin, as well as FD Feedburner. I just typed in http://feeds.feedburner.com/idolbusterblog in the RSS field of Social Media Widget, which brings the user right to the feedburner page. They can subscribe from there. This took too much time, and I am not convinced how many users will sign up for RSS.
Google Analytics for WordPress By Joost de Valk
Jetpack by WordPress.com by Automatic has many different features – blog subscriptions, stats among others. 3/6/12 – I discovered that blog subscriptions is a bad feature. I cannot access the email addresses of people who sign up, and there is no way to manage the list other than to submit a new blog. I switched to Mailchimp.
Social Media Widget by Brian Freytag gives all the sharing buttons at the bottom of my posts.
WP-DBManager by Lester ‘GaMerZ’ Chan is for making backups of the wordpress db. I am having some configuration issues that may relate to GoDaddy. Linda Lee from Askmepc.com helped me fix this. She needed to add in custom file paths in the backup section because my site is hosted by GoDaddy. I have set an automatic backups to happen weekly. On 3/12/12 I updated my db before the update to WordPress 3.3.1. It was done in a matter of seconds.
6/25/12 I recently added Genesis Single Post Navigation. This pluggin only works with a Genesis-based theme. It adds the arrows to the left and right of the post to give a book like reading experience, to easily go to the next or previous post. Unfortunately, it is set up so that the arrow on the right goes to previous, and the left goes to next, which is opposite of what I expect to happen. There is a way to change it, but I haven’t figured it out yet.
I did not have good experiences with WP Music Player, Fast Secure Contact Form or Cimy User Extra Fields, Feedburner Form, FB Feedburner
When I started the blog, I included an image file with every post. I think it looks nice, and will attract additional readers through image searches. I can spend almost as much time finding the right image as I do writing.
When I started blogging Busting Your Corporate Idol, I decided not to include an image with every post. I didn’t have the bandwidth, and given the serial nature of many of the stories, finding multiple images to help tell the story would be difficult, and unnecessary. I still include images on guest posts, non-book posts, and sometimes in a book post if I think it adds value.
I will not use an image unless I am sure I have the right to use it.
Most of my images come from http://www.dreamstime.com/. It offers royalty free images. 80% of my images come from Dreamstime. Most of the remainder come from Flicker, or graphics I make myself. On 3/6/12 I used a copyrighted image from the Lorax. My post is a movie review, which is considered “Fair Use”. On 3/8/12 I changed the picture, after a lawyer friend thought my Fair Use argument would not hold up because I am (theoretically) a for profit site. And when I actually make some money, it will be better yet. On 4/10/12 I included a picture of Edward G. Robinson as Dathan in a post about Passover that was in the public domain. I also included a picture of a baseball in another post that was available from the Wikimedia Commons.
I don’t think I can put music on the site due to copyright issues. When I buy a song from iTunes, I get the rights for personal use only. Too bad – I found a few songs I would have liked to play on the site.
I got three free email addresses that come with the GoDaddy.com Hosting. I set up an email address that is my first name at domain name. The contact form is set up to send email to this special email address. Then, I went into GoDaddy, and set up automatic forwarding to my Gmail account. Within Gmail, I have it set up so I can send email from my special idolbuster account. In other words, I can use Gmail to both receive and send email from the special domain specific email.
I was having trouble positioning myself. I found myself with a laundry list of credentials, without a short, compact way to describe who I am and why I am the person to write this blog or my book. I decided to hire Dan Janal from prleads.com as a marketing consultant. I read about Dan in the book The Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. He has a great service to help writers get referenced in news articles. Although I haven’t yet used this service, I hired Dan as a coach for one hour and came up with the following. Greg Marcus is a modern-day Abraham who smashes corporate idols to help the chronically overworked find a more fulfilling life. I am thrilled with it!
At the SF Writer’s conference, I went to a great session about crafting the perfect pitch that was co-hosted by writing coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan. Check out her blog here.
Update Services & Pings – Who Knew?
I just set up the Update Services, found in settings, writing. To learn more about them, read the Codex. Much to my surprise, there are lots of blog services that track blogs, and flag blogs with updates. (E.g. Bloggrolling.com and Technorati). Something called a “ping” notifies these services, and there are many ways to push a ping. User services lists one URL, but the Codex has about 20 different ping servers and services. I pasted the whole list, and in theory this will notify more crawlers etc about my blog, making it easier for others to find me.
Text widget for an image link
It is easy to put an image in a sidebar, with a link somewhere. Here is a sample I created. It links the image (img src part) to a website (first part.)
<a href=http://enduranceleader.com/><img src=http://idolbuster.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/50-Hour-Week.jpg border=0></a>
Or for text with a link:
<a title=”Fireside Chat With Greg Marcus” href=”http://gregmarcuschat.eventbrite.com” target=”_blank”>Fireside Chat With Greg Marcus</a>
[like xfbml=false action=like]
I found that the site was slowing down, especially when I was adding new posts. I called Godaddy support, who checked my stats and helped me correct the issue – my cache was full in Chrome. When I changed it, things good better. (Its still faster in Safari, but I don’t use Safari for other reasons.)
I haven’t done much here, but at the SF Writing For Change Conference, I got a free 15 minute editing consultation from Laura Carlson at American Editing Services. I asked her about big picture issues with the structure of my book. She looked at excerpts from 2 chapters I am happy with, and 1 that to me doesn’t seem right to me. She was spot on with a few observations on why it was different, and suggested a few ways to address. I could take the chapter out, move to later in the book, or spread the material out to be included in different chapters. I liked her enthusiasm, and obvious love of writing.
I have been deciding what to do with Busting Your Corporate Idol when it is completed. After reading APE by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welsh, I have decided to self publish. This book is a gold mine. Here is a review on my G+ page.