How Software Changes Your Mind

I’ve had so many ideas and from those ideas I spin off into making them reality and find even more options. More than I can keep track of. Software, it’s advances, limitations and quickness to become obsolete/ unpopular, changes how you end up doing things. 
I wanted a web directory. But, keeping links became unpopular due to the SEO/ Google fanatics. WordPress and Joomla both stopped including their link management plugins/ extensions in the core software for the CMS. In the case of WordPress you can still download a plugin, Restore Lost Functionality, to bring back links and other features.  Joomla still offers Web Links as an extension, but further development seems very limited, if any.  
So, I could use Web Links with Joomla, I did upload and install it. But, I can’t use it to import my links from WordPress. (I’ve noticed WordPress does not work well with other CMS). Also, there is no bookmarklet which I would have used to make keeping the web directory supplied with new links as I find them while using my web browser. Anyway, I spent a few days banging into road blocks with this and then I got the idea to change software. 
I did have PHPLD (PHP Link Directory), paid for it a few years ago. But, the support forums are gone. Possibly the software is no longer supported as I could not import my links even when I finally did manage to create a CSV file (which was frustrating in itself). There is an option to pull links in from ODP (but dmoz/ ODP is gone) and Google. This feature had an error and did not work. So, I have now ruled out PHPLD.
I’ve tried other web directory software, even considered other premium (not free) software. But, so many are old and seldom updated or lacking any support at all. I did upload, install and try several but they all had errors. Some would not even install at all. 
Now I’m looking at the idea of just creating pages of links. Not my preference, but, you have to work with the software (unless you know how to create your own, or can afford to pay someone to do it for you). 
There are page builders. I looked at lots of them when I was still using WordPress. Joomla also has a large amount of them. But, I’m not sure which are page builders, template makers, page editors, or something else similar with a different name. They seem to meld together and use the same description even when they say they can work as add-ons to each other. It’s confusing. I don’t like being confused. I think of myself as being an experienced web publisher. But, I am confused. 
Of course, none of them really have anything special for links. So, I can’t say I’m eager to install any of them. It’s a bit make-do at this stage. 

Bookmark Files From Scratch

Several things may be driving you crazy but, if links, text files and bookmarks are one of them, I have some help for you! (Little things help a lot, right?)
After spending a lot of time trying to import my old WordPress bookmarks into Joomla I found the best way was to create a text file with just the links, all code scraped out. Then create a new file with Notepad using the code I have cut and pasted in a screenshot below:
Screenshot from It Still Works.
Cut and pasted the text also, because I’ve seen how easy images disappear, wander off and generally get lost. I want to remember how I finally got this far, no doubt I will need to do the same again with other links from my other sites moving from WordPress to Joomla. 
If you feel confident with HTML, you can create a bookmark file from scratch in Notepad. Begin the document with . Then, enter the title as Bookmarks and the header as

Bookmarks

. Then, begin a list with the

tag. Each item of that list should be denoted by a

tag. Then, describe the link via an tag. For example, if you wished to create a bookmark link to http://www.google.com, your tags after

would look like this:

Google. Finish the file with a closing

tag.

So, maybe this will help you, or you may just wonder why someone would do things this way and spend so much time on links few people will actually look at anyway.
Keep wondering, it’s good for you.

Selling Greeting Cards Online With a Subscription

I still want to sell my art as ecards, online. Today I found someone with a good plan, selling the cards with a paid membership to the site. Ojolie offers a free account, to send the ecards she offers without charge. But, I think, I would rather make the ecards a subscriber only thing. Art online is just too easy to rip off. At least I could get a year’s subscription before giving access to the art. Of course, I still don’t know what software to use. Something like a catalogue, but then it needs to send a png file, or pdf. I think I would include envelopes too, a bonus should people print the cards. So much to consider when you start to think about all the details. 
This (see below) is a screenshot from Ojolie, how her pricing works. I’m mainly posting this for myself. So I can look back and remember what I thought I would do.

Moved the Site to b2evolution

Just moved the site over from WordPress to b2evolution. People have asked me why, a few times. There are a few reasons. But, for now I am fixing glitches with moving to another CMS. I like b2 and I don’t think it will take me long to get to know how it works and where things are now. Meanwhile, images are mostly not working. Categories and tags did not make the import, not sure why. So I am manually going through my posts one by one to renovate a little. What usually happens when you move to a new place… you renovate to make it look more like the old place. 🙂 People are funny like that.
Making my life easier, I have added comments from the original post to this post. I have been moving my site content to Joomla. It’s a different set up from WordPress and b2evolution but I think it will be more active and user friendly.  Still need to fix the images with posts (that was mangled by WordPress) and add my links which I will end up doing manually, one at a time. But, I hope this will end the project of moving from WordPress to some other CMS. It has been a longer adventure than I expected. 
Here are the comments:

Comment from: Jane Gassner [Visitor]

Jane Gassner

I lost the entire archive of MidLifeBloggers.com and JaneGassner.com sometime during the holiday season. It was one of those, “you only have 24 hours to migrate” and for various reasons, I got in at the 25th hour. I couldn’t decide how upset I should/would be. MidLifeBloggers was a longterm venture that still got a lot of hits. JaneGassner.com, not so much. But MidLifeBloggers was old business, and I had said everything I wanted to about midlife and beyond. Jane Gassner had the potential to be new and, if not shiny, then gaining a slight glow about it after time. So I’m redoing JaneGassner.com but starting anew. It’s springtime, and perhaps that’s influencing me to not try to make it as it was. Considering that it wasn’t that successful, it’s probably a wise decision.

03/28/17 @ 09:27 pm

Comment from: laura [Member]

I really like history so that part of it would be hard for me. But, I have thought about just starting fresh too. Moving a site is never completely smooth and simple but I’ve been trying to move old content and have not made time to write new posts. That is kind of backwards. Starting fresh might have been better than trying to preserve old content (that mostly only matters to me).

03/29/17 @ 12:18 pm

Comment from: laura [Member]

I like your new site. Writing something for writers has it’s own challenge. It makes me doubt myself and compare myself with others too much. I thought about closing this site. But, I do like writing it. So… here it still is.
You have doubled images in posts with WordPress featured image. I kept having that problem too.

How Do People Find you Online?

Are you sure people can find you online? What if you change your Twitter account? What if a web service you rely on shuts down? What if… ?
Amy (see images) is my example tonight because I did have to track her down from a broken Twitter link and nothing else but the Scoop.it profile I was already looking at. Google search results were not a big help because her name has changed and the domain for her current name is not the same person. So I searched Google for both names (together) and did find her new Twitter account among the search results. (Turns out I was already following her there).

If you rely on web services, like social media, for your web presence you could be leaving it up to chance.  

Not everyone wants to buy a domain and run their own site. It’s another expense, another new thing to learn and another drain your your available time too. But, consider something simple like creating a quick profile on Blogspot. Yes, it is a web service too, so it could disappear but it has been reliable for a very long time. 
All you need to do is ceate an account (or use the account you forgot you still had) and set up a blog. You don’t need to post regularly. It’s just a place to have your name, some general information and your links available.  If you can get your name, great. (Example – yourname.blogspot.com) Likely you won’t find it available. So pick something clever for your account – consider your business or niche and go from there. 
  • Use the basic template/ theme. Add colour to the header if you want but keep the content easy to read.
  • Add one post with links to your social media accounts. Include an image if you like. 
  • Use your name (or whatever you call yourself online) as the title of the post. Use the same for a category and tags with that post. 
  • Publish it and save the link in your web browser bookmarks. Any time you change a social media account use that link to update the Blogspot post. 
Next time someone goes looking for you online you have this as a base of operations. It’s not perfect but it’s simple and free. 
As an option you can buy a domain and have your Blogspot/ Blogger site on that domain instead of the blogspot.com web address. 
Of course, there are other free web hosting services. I like the history of Blogger and the fact that Google currently runs it with few limitations to how you use it. 

Getting Back to Being an Effective Blogger, Again

This site is not dead but… I do need to find it again. Keeping focus and staying true to your own voice are not easy when you look around at other sites and start comparing yourself. If you can manage to do it constructively, that’s great. I’ve gotten sucked into my own wormhole of blog envy. Not envy, but self unsatisfaction. So, I need to pull myself out of it and get back to the basics, again. The key to sustainable blogging is showing up and showing up the next day too when you’re run out of stuff to say and feel like everyone is doing it better than you are.
This list comes from Katy Rose, the Modly Chic blog. I found it in submissions for fashion blogs at dmoz. I usually take a look around at sites I’m listing. Some just get a skim for the basics, to make sure they are original and focused on topic. Ironic, eh? So often we know the answers but we haven’t been paying attention or didn’t want to remember.

Considering a Change from WordPress

Not for any special reason but, I am seriously considering changing my sites from WordPress. There are several reasons not to do this: transferring content, themes and plugins I have bought will no longer work, learning (and installing/ setting up) new software. But… I feel WordPress has lost individuals like myself. I’m not a web developer or designer. I don’t have clients to set sites up for. I just have my own sites and WordPress keeps feeling limited.

I am not so keen on changing. Though I do like change for the sake of change, sometimes. I don’t like being in a rut or following the pack.

It is not an easy decision to fully commit to. I’ve been looking at other software. I’m always interested in alternatives and options and new things when it comes to web publishing. But that’s more like window shopping than making a serious plan.

If you publish a site, with something other than WordPress (or Blogger/ Blogspot or other freebies which don’t run on your own domain) let me know. I’d like to set up Typo3 but so far it just will not install. Fancy installations are a hard limit for me. If I can’t even get the software set up I’m not confident in using it afterwards.

At least, it will be an interesting month – or however long it takes me to either change or decide not to rock the boat.

Considering a Change from WordPress

Not for any special reason but, I am seriously considering changing my sites from WordPress. There are several reasons not to do this: transferring content, themes and plugins I have bought will no longer work, learning (and installing/ setting up) new software. But… I feel WordPress has lost individuals like myself. I’m not a web developer or designer. I don’t have clients to set sites up for. I just have my own sites and WordPress keeps feeling limited.

I am not so keen on changing. Though I do like change for the sake of change, sometimes. I don’t like being in a rut or following the pack.

It is not an easy decision to fully commit to. I’ve been looking at other software. I’m always interested in alternatives and options and new things when it comes to web publishing. But that’s more like window shopping than making a serious plan.

If you publish a site, with something other than WordPress (or Blogger/ Blogspot or other freebies which don’t run on your own domain) let me know. I’d like to set up Typo3 but so far it just will not install. Fancy installations are a hard limit for me. If I can’t even get the software set up I’m not confident in using it afterwards.

At least, it will be an interesting month – or however long it takes me to either change or decide not to rock the boat.

Has WordPress Jumped the Shark?

I think WordPress is in danger of “jumping the shark”, becoming too complicated and loaded with too many features. Google has mostly forgotten all about Blogger, but it may become a better alternative for a lot of people who just want a simple business site. WordPress seems to be something for people who want to spend time and money on a fancy site with a lot of features. How many businesses really need all of that? Not many.
As someone who has kept sites for many years and used WordPress most of the time, I’m not planning to use a lot of customized posts. I don’t need them. I want to focus on content, not spend a lot of time on formatting.
I will add that if people are building a site to function as a web directory, job board, or any of a hundred other things – WordPress isn’t an essential element. It may even be a hindrance. WordPress is still a customized blog at heart.
Note: I posted this as a comment on WPTavern. The post there was about new custom formatting for WordPress posts. It got me thinking about how WordPress is used, who uses it and whether it is really still sustainable for the general blog user – people who are not web developers and may not want to spend that kind of time or money on a site for their business, or hobby, etc. Most of us have a limited budget. How important is it to have a fancy site with a lot of features versus just having a site up and functioning?
Is WordPress still a good option for putting up a site? Or, do you need to be (or pay) a web designer/ developer to work with WordPress?

Six Steps to Starting a Creative Blog

Whether it’s a creative blog, a lifestyle blog, a business blog… most posts with this title end up disappointing me. They are all about getting a domain, setting up your site on their web host and starting WordPress. I’m never looking for those things when I click on a post about starting a blog.

I want to know what makes a creative blog tick, what keeps it going, how they find juice for new ideas and what inspires them.  So, as a long time blogger, however good I may be, I will give my own version of how to start a creative blog.

1. You need a focus.

One niche idea which you can sustain (and promote if you are hoping to get noticed). Finding the right idea is more important than anything else. Your niche is what will keep you going when you run dry, lose patience, or give up on keeping your site. It is also how you will find kindred spirits among the masses of people online.

2. Brainstorm ideas.

Before you buy a domain and set up web hosting, push yourself to come up with a list of at least 100 posts you could make about your niche topic. Don’t skimp and don’t settle for half baked post ideas. Really work your brain muscles and make a great list. Think about the type of posts you would read yourself. Take a look at other people writing the same topics, not just online. Come up with an excellent list – posts you almost want to stop and start writing right now.

3. What can you sell?

Yes, it does come down to commercialism at some point. If you are going to create a site it will help you to see it get readers and make some money. Traffic alone won’t sustain you and reader comments occur far less often these days. So you will be happier if you can find your numbers coming from another source and money is nice.

You may think you have nothing to sell. But, put on your thinking cap and see what you can do. Think digital content. If you have art, illustrations or photographs you can sell those, or create digital downloads with your art on calendars, stationery, etc. You can sell information by having a paid membership site – but you need some authority in your topic for that. You can sell patterns for craft projects. See what other people in your niche topic are selling. As a last resort consider putting together an ebook and offering that to your readers. (In my opinion, ebooks have had their day in the sun).

You can also sell a service to creative people. Like workshops and courses they can download or have sent to them each week in email. You might offer to proofread for other writers. You might offer yourself as a reviewer and social media poster for book writers. Avoid making yourself a spammer but a lot of creative people would like help with the marketing side of things.

4. Build your site.

Design your site before you start looking at themes and templates. Get an idea of what you want – then find a way to make it work. If you are new to running a site consider Blogger, it’s simpler and you can always convert a Blogger site to WordPress later. (There are a lot of good plugins to make the change over easy). If you want to use WordPress, don’t use WordPress.com. It’s ok, but it is only ok and has a few too many limitations and options you can pay extra for. If you want WordPress, get WordPress on your own domain.

A website is all about navigation. Content may be king but navigation is what will make or break a site. Keep it simple, easily found and make sure it all works. Navigation starts by having a link back to your own site as a “Home” link in the navigation bar. Categories, tags and labels are also great to help people find their way around the contents of your site. Don’t forget an “About” page to tell readers who you are, what you are writing about, what you’re selling, and what your plans are for the site.

A pretty picture is nice but not enough. Make your site look nice but keep it readable. Pick fonts which are not too light or too complicated. Pick colours which keep your site readable. You can find out a lot more about readability and standards for things like alternate tags in image files.

There is a lot of work, planning and DIY (learning) behind a site. Invest in a good guide book, and if you use it, you aren’t likely to regret it. Try to build your own site because it can be done, without paying someone else to do it for you.

5. Start talking to yourself.

Write your first post, to yourself. Give yourself goals and a to-do list as your first post. Afterwards start using an editorial calendar to keep on track with goals and ideas as they come along. Use the draft post feature to keep ideas saved as posts while you work on them.

Everything you would have written as a first post would work as your “About” page, the introduction to your site and yourself.

6. Write your second post.

Pick your favourite idea from your list of 100+ post ideas and write that post. Proofread it before you publish it. Don’t take too long to write it, don’t make it overly dramatic or particularly perfect. (You can always go back and edit it later).

Post and go look at your blog, from the reader side (not the admin/ edit side). Admire what you have accomplished and plan what you will do next.