Tag Archives: Wordpress.com

A New, Revamped “Spun Stories” is now up and running!

As most of you know, I’ve been going through this whole process of revamping my website. I needed to do this for several reasons. One was that my blog was on WordPress.com, while my website was hosted by Yahoo! The other was that as I’m gearing up for my marketing campaign this fall, I need Google Analytics to help me. WordPress.com doesn’t do plugins, so I was forced to move everything over to WordPress.org.

 

Now that I’ve got to the end of this whole process, here are some tips that I’m passing along.

 

  1. If you already have a blog on WordPress.com, pay the $119 for a so-called “Happiness Engineer” (I’m not joking) from WordPress to transfer your blog to WordPress.org. Mine did the transfer in THREE hours. I was thrilled.
  2. If your domain name is with another service like Yahoo, don’t worry. I was able to sign up with Dreamhost to host the WordPress.org website, and keep my email and domain name with Yahoo. I just had to go into my files at Yahoo to make a few simple changes. If I can manage to do that, I’m sure you can!
  3. Do NOT whatever anyone says buy an expensive WordPress them like Thesis theme, UNLESS you are comfortable with html code. If you’re like me, and you kind of squint at it, and feel terrified of actually doing anything because you might destroy your website & blog forever, then stick with a FREE WordPress theme. My favorite is PILCROW, because it allows you to organize the layout and also because it has lots of room for lots of lovely plugins.
  4. Here are a list of widgets that you might want to consider getting for your new WordPress.org website (and blog), once the HE has moved everything over for you:
    1. Akismet. Absolutely essential for preventing spam
    2. Broken link checker. I love this one. Tells you about all the links that don’t work, and provides easy ways to fix.
    3. Disquis Comment System. Allows you to manage your comments, including requiring your readers to register. Also tracks stats.
    4. Facebook “ike” button. Well I had to have one of these didn’t I? Looks so cute, and of course, is a must-have these days.
    5. Feedburner email subscription. Makes it easy for people to sign up to your blog.
    6. Google Friends Connect Widget. Another great way of meeting people online.
    7. Gravatar widget. You really do need a nice photo of yourself on your website or blog.
    8. Grunion Contact form. Another way of connecting with your readers.
    9. Simple social bookmarks. Puts the Facebook, Twitter & email clickable icons at the end of every post.
    10. Simple WordPress Backup. You MUST back up!
    11. WordPress Custom CSS (cascading style sheet). Allows for CSS editing with strict filtering for malicious code.
    12. WordPress Goodreads Bookshelf. The collage of your favorite books looks lovely.
    13. WP parallel loading system. Speeds up website loading.  A must-have if you have lots of images, because the last thing you want to do is irritate a potential reader with a slow-moving website.
    14. WPtouch formats your site for visitor on iPhone, iPod touch, Android, Blackberry & other smartphones.
  5. I was amazed at how easy it is to use these FREE plugins. You just install, them and activate them. If you don’t like what you see, you deactivate them and delete. If you do, you either go to Settings to find them under the settings sidebar, open them up and configure them to make them active. Or you go to Appearance>Widgets and move them around that way.

 

I hope you like my new site. Feel free to drop comments in the comments box below, and have a great week!

 

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Newsletter will be launching soon

Everyone,

I am really excited to announce the launch of my newsletter, a monthly ezine, which should be coming out later this week.  Now why would I do a newsletter, when I already do a blog? Because a newsletter allows me to talk in more depth about the things I discuss in my blog.

I want to get this quick announcement out now because a “Happiness Engineer” from WordPress.com is going to be moving all my stuff over to WordPress.org, so I may not be able to blog for a few days. Expect to see my newsletter soon. I’ll post another announcement when my blog is up and running with instructions on how to sign up.

Have a great week!

Best, Cynthia

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What a difference a theme can make!

Well, I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised. I’ve actually been able to work with my wordpress.org site WITHOUT using much code.

How come my experience is so different this time? In one word, THEMES.

Be careful which Theme you go for, because it can make your life hell.  As many of you know, a few weeks ago I decided to shift my site over to WordPress.org because I wanted to have my blog and website all in one place. The person who advised me to do this, raved about THESIS theme from DIY themes. And it is true, THESIS has gotten a lot of rave reviews. So I plunked down $87 to buy the license, thinking I could get my website up and running in a few hours. How wrong I was. I found it impossible to work with, because it demands that you know a lot about html code. So I got my $87 back and gave up.

But I’m publishing a novel this fall, and I need to have Google Analytics on my website. When I found out that WordPress.com doesn’t support GA, I was obliged to rethink my decision.

I reactivated WordPress on my Yahoo hosting service, and picked the TwentyTen theme to work with. What a huge difference that made! I found it to be almost exactly the same as working with interface at WordPress.com. The only difference was that I now had access to a whole lot of plugins that I didn’t have before.

What have I achieved so far?

  1. I’ve successfully installed Google Analytics code into my footer.php so that it can track my new site.
  2. I’ve successfully installed Pilcrow, my favorite theme from WordPress.com. I love this theme because it has so much functionality, with a special feature area, two sidebars and two footers. Lots of places to put your widgets!
  3. I’ve discovered that for the reasonable price of $119 I can have a so-called “Happiness Engineer” move all my stuff from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. So I’ve set aside two days in early June to make this happen.

Stay tuned.

Here are some useful links for those of you who are trying to build a site on WordPress.org:

First Steps with WordPress. An invaluable read for those of you new to WordPress.org. Relevant for those of you who have just installed WordPress on your hosting service, and now wonder how to proceed.

Getting Started with Google Analytics, courtesy of WordPress tv. A short video clip that explains how to load Google Analytics into your WordPress Theme, either using a plugin, or manually. Remember that if you CHANGE your theme, you will have to go through this process all over again.

WordPress Main Page, where you get access to all of WordPress.org’s documentation, including how to install WordPress on your hosting service.

Good luck, and let me know how you fare.

–Cynthia Haggard writes historical novels.  She has two completed manuscripts that will be published in the coming year. THWARTED QUEEN  is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.FAMILY SPLINTERS is  a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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Why I need to use WordPress.org again

As many of you know, I’ve been struggling with my website recently.

I had a blog on WordPress.com and a website built by Apple Mac’s iWeb hosted by Yahoo.

But wouldn’t it be better to have my blog on my website? Of course.

My first stab at doing this involved downloading the WordPress software onto Yahoo, and trying to create a site there. The problem? You really need considerable programming skills to be able to do this. It’s not that those of us with limited programming skills can’t do this. Just that the learning curve was going to be steep. Unfortunately, I went into this with the expectation that it was going to be quick and easy. I was disappointed.

My second stab at this was to build my website using WordPress.com. All I did was add static pages to my blog, and, as I said in my last blog, created a beautiful website in two days!

My third stab was to cheat and add Google Analytics to iWeb, and pray that it worked, even though I kinda gerrymandered it onto the site hosted by Yahoo. (It did)

So what could possibly be the problem now?

iWeb does NOT support a blog, well not one that functions anything like the way it does on WordPress. And since my blog is an important part of my web presence, I have to have it.

So if I want Google Analytics to work with my WordPress blog, the only way I can do that is to work via WordPress.org, which means downloading the WordPress software onto a host, then struggling with your meager programming skills to get the site up and running. (See Stab One above).

Why can’t I use Google Analytics with WordPress.com? Because it is a plugin, and t turns out that WordPress.com does NOT employ plugins for security reasons.

So back to wrestling with wordpress.org. But this time,

  1. I know it’s going to be hard.
  2. I have my dummies book to help me.
  3. I have my beautiful website up and running on WordPress.com. So all I have to do is mess around with my Yahoo-hosted site.

Stay tuned!

–Cynthia Haggard writes historical novels.  She has two completed manuscripts that will be published in the coming year. THWARTED QUEEN  is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.FAMILY SPLINTERS is  a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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How to cheat and use Google Analytics on iWeb

What’s so special about Google Analytics? Why do I feel I absolutely MUST have it on my website?

Because it gives you statistics about the visitors who come to your site. In detail. With a nifty map to show you which geographical locations are lighting up for you, so that if you’ve done a book-tour in Milwaukee, say, you can tell if it helped your sales or not.

Most of all, its FREE!

As you know, I have limited programming skills, which is why I’m an unsuccessful Thesis theme user. However, I did an experiment, in which I kinda stuck Google Analytics code onto a site I built using iWeb, that’s hosted by Yahoo! Much to my surprise, it worked.

Here is what you have to do:

  1. Sign up for a google account.
  2. Find Google Analytics, either by doing a Google search, or by clicking on your google page.
  3. Register the site you are interested in. (Go to the Settings page in Google Analytics, and click ADD NEW PROFILE.)
  4. Find the code. (Click on Edit next to your site name, then look for a yellow circle that says TRACKING NOT INSTALLED. (Should be on top right of page). Next to it is something that says CHECK STATUS. Click on that.)
  5. At the bottom you will see the code you need. Copy the code.
  6. Ignore comments about pasting html code before /head/ or /body/ or in the asymmetrical part of the code, as all the tutorials will tell you. You won’t find it on iWeb. You also can’t use it as a plugin. Try not to worry about it.
  7. Open iWeb, and go to widgets.
  8. Click on HTML snippet and paste code into popup window. Arrange your window near top of page for webcrawlers.
  9. Publish. (Code magically disappears, so that you don’t have Google Analytics number on view for all of those spammers out there.)
  10. DON’T FORGET to paste the code onto ALL of the pages on your website. You can use the SAME code for different pages of the SAME site. You CANNOT use a code across different sites, but Google Analytics will provide you with a DIFFERENT CODE for each site.
  11. Last but not least, WAIT AT LEAST 24 hours.
  12. Voila!

If I can manage it, I’m sure you can.  I’d be interested in learning about your experiences.

–Cynthia Haggard writes historical novels.  She has two completed manuscripts that will be published in the coming year. THWARTED QUEEN  is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.FAMILY SPLINTERS is  a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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How I built a beautiful website in TWO days (with NO programming skills)

What a difference a week makes! Last week, I was completely miserable because I’d downloaded the Thesis theme to create a new site using WordPress open source software, and was struggling mightily with the code. My level of programming skills (basic) ensured that it was going to be weeks before my website was up and running, because I was literally able to do only one thing at a time, before getting onto the forum and asking a question.

I disabled the Thesis theme, asked for a refund, and set about building the best website I could using WordPress.com (the free site) as a platform.

For those of you who don’t know, WordPress.com is famous for being both easy to use and powerful. If you want to add a tab to the navbar (the thingy that runs across the tops of your posts, which usually says things like “Welcome” “About Cynthia” or “Contact”, you just go to add pages, type the title you want, and voila, it magically appears.

Why did I need a new website? What I specifically needed was something that would be more friendly to web spiders and crawlers, because that would make me visible.  I worked on the title of my site, being sure to include my name. (My site now reads Spun Stories, home of Cynthia Sally Haggard, Historical Novelist). A mouthful, to be sure. But it’s full of keywords, which is what you need to get a webcrawler’s attention.

I spent hours choosing a theme that was flexible and easy to use, and had lots of widgets. Why do I need widgets?  To make my site more interactive for the reader. I need a widget so that people can sign up for email notifications of my post. And I wanted a widget so that people can sign up for my newsletter.

If you are one of those authors who know they should have a website, but haven’t yet taken the plunge, take my advice. Sign up for an account on WordPress.com. It’s free. And you don’t have to blog if you don’t want to. Just don’t choose pages that have blog functionality. Let yourself play, and I think you’ll be delighted. I had great fun creating my website, which you are now on!

If you have any questions or comments, or want more information about how to start a website, just leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you.

–Cynthia Haggard writes historical novels.  She has two completed manuscripts that will be published in the coming year. THWARTED QUEEN  is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.FAMILY SPLINTERS is  a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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Why I am one frustrated & disappointed Thesis Theme customer

The problems that I’m having are neatly captured in this screen shot.  My beautiful picture of Castle Raby is obscured by a square picture thingy and two widgets that I don’t know how to get rid of.  Can I just select it and hit delete? Not a chance.

How did I get into this pickle? How did I end up with a website that has so many obvious problems?

I was recently convinced that my web presence needed a complete overhall. I am one of those people that have my website hosted by one provider (in my case, Yahoo!) and my blog on another (WordPress). But at a recent webinar, the person I’ve come to think of as my tech guru, said that all authors should have an integrated website, with blog and site rolled into one.

I have been blogging for about 4 years on WordPress.com, and I’ve been very happy with it. True, there was a learning curve, and I seem to remember that 4 years ago there was an issue loading images. But they’ve constantly upgraded the software, and it’s now so easy to use that I hardly need to think about it. So when I learned that moving over to WordPress.org, i.e. downloading and using the open-source software as both a website and blog, would be easy, I was hooked. Especially as it gave me access to premium themes such as THESIS, which are optimized for SEO (search engine optimization). I’m planning to publish a novel this fall, and SEO will give me the visibility that is so sorely lacking on my current site.

Last Thursday, I downloaded WordPress onto Yahoo. Then bought Thesis, and downloaded that. It was a glorious afternoon, so I yanked myself away from my oblong-eyed mistress and made myself take a walk for a few hours. As I sat on a wall looking over a glorious view of Georgetown, I happily contemplated getting my website up and running that evening.

If you are one of those people who’ve heard about the husband-and-wife team who got their Thesis theme working in a weekend, or about all the praise that is heaped upon Thesis, and have just bought the license for $87 and are trying not to feel stupid because it just isn’t’ working, this post is for you.

I returned home, and happily set about adding new pages. But they weren’t appearing in the top panel. Why not? On WordPress.com, all you had to do was go to the sidebar, click on “Pages”, click on “Add Pages”, type in the name, and voila!, it magically appeared at the thing on the top (which I understand is called the Nav bar).

That didn’t happen. Can you get rid of a picture by selecting it and hitting delete? Not a chance. I spent hours trying to get THESIS to work, and here were the problems I encountered:

  1. I couldn’t find anything. True there was a whole page of stuff, but I didn’t know what it meant.
  2. I don’t have the vocabulary for what I’m looking at. For example, there is a default square picture on Thesis that keeps changing picture. I don’t know what it’s called. I do know I’d like to get rid of it.
  3. There is no indexed Help on the page.
  4. There is no-one on the end of the telephone to help you out. The only people who helped were the ones at Yahoo!, which now has a fabulous customer service.  As a small business owner, I can actually ask them to call me. How wonderful it is to be able to speak to intelligent people who can solve your problems in a matter of minutes. You certainly can’t do that with open-source software.

I was just about ready to throw in the towel, and get my money back. But my tech guru convinced me to hang in there. Why? Three simple letters:  SEO.

So what does my life look like these days?

Build ONE thing on website.

Get STUCK on second thing.

Go to FORUM.

Ask QUESTION.

WAIT.

On Friday, I learned how to get those Nav Bar Tabs (the ones that say “Welcome”  “About Cynthia” across the top of the site) to appear.

On Saturday, I got my images to upload.

If anyone has any suggestions about how to make that square thingy go away, customize widgets for each page, or even how to find the visual web editor so that I can make changes to my font, I’d be most grateful.

–Cynthia Haggard writes historical novels.  She has two completed manuscripts that will be published in the coming year. THWARTED QUEEN  is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.FAMILY SPLINTERS is  a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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