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.

Using Nulled Plugins and Themes

I hadn’t heard of nulled plugins and themes, as a phrase. I do sometimes look at plugins and themes beyond those offered on WordPress.org. I like shopping for plugins. I especially like trying them out and seeing if they magically make blogging easier in some way. Most don’t do what I hoped they would do. Some don’t even start once they are activated. Some give errors and won’t even load. Some load and activate but then I can’t find the plugin settings on my dashboard.

Some aren’t free.

Some plugins and themes come with a catch, hidden at times. This is what is meant about the risk in using nulled plugins or themes. You may be importing extra code to your site which is active behind the scenes. You may be advertising another site, for free. Or, you could be running a harmful code which will seem to originate from your site (and it may because you took a risk on a plugin or theme).

I will not say you should stick to the WordPress Plugin Directory 100% of the time. I don’t plan to. But, know there is a risk and don’t load up any theme or plugin without finding out how it works, what it does and what others have said about it.

It is really hard to resist when you see those premium plugins and themes available for free. The catch is that those freely available nulled premium plugins and themes are not actually free; they take your website as the payment. To put it simply, these nulled plugins and themes often contain malicious code which can do all sorts of things like redirecting users to other website(s), injecting links, creating backdoors, spamming other users, etc. In the worst case scenario, this malicious code in the nulled plugins or themes can effectively take down your website or blog.

The moral is, never use nulled plugins and themes. If you want to install a plugin or theme (be it free or premium), only download and install that plugin or theme from a reputable source like the developer’s website or WordPress repository. If you have already installed a couple of plugins or themes and want to test them for any malicious code, you can use Theme Authenticity Checker to check the plugins and themes.

Source: Make Tech Easier

How to Really Get People Interested in Following You

It’s not about tricks, fooling people and just getting high numbers of followers. You need real people, actually interested in following you and paying some attention to what you post, sell and care about.

These following tips will work well for you in any social media and site writing. Take some time to make an impression rather than looking for short cuts which don’t get you far.

Do Your Research

First, find your niche. Build your blog around a topic that you are passionate about. Next, design your blog with a theme that suits its purpose. Peruse the many themes available from Tumblr to give your blog an attractive design (see Resources). Post content on your blog on a semi-regular schedule to attract new eyes and keep your followers engaged. Finally, follow other blogs that cover topics similar to yours and follow back those who follow you.

Create a Buzz

The most successful Tumblr blogs are those that create a genuine buzz, and the most organic way to create a buzz, and gain lots of Tumblr followers a result, is simply to create a quality product. Tumblr is loosely organized around categories such as Food, Fashion, Beauty, Art, Culture and so on; check the Tumblr Spotlight page (link in Resources) to see how blogs are organized by content and review some of them to see successful blogs in action.

Interact

Tumblr is a social network more than just a bunch of blogs, and interacting with others helps you get followed. You can interact with other Tumblr users in several ways: you can “like” posts by clicking the heart icon for each post; you can reblog posts, which is a tribute to the original author and the originating post is cited in a reblog; if replies are enabled for a post, you can leave a short comment; if a blog has an Ask page, you can send the blog owner questions and comments from this page; lastly, you can message a blog you follow using Fan Mail.

Source: Tricks to Make Tumblr Users Follow You | The Classroom | Synonym

Tidy Repo Launches WordPress Plugin Recommendation Service

Picking a WordPress plugin is very hit or miss. No guarantees the plugin will work at all, do what you expected and not be harmful to your site in some way. WordPress themes are given more testing and scrutinity before being listed on the site. Plugins… no.

So the idea of paying for plugin suggestions is not so far fetched. I have spent hours looking for the plugin I wanted to work with the idea(s) I had in mind. Often I come up without what I wanted/ hoped to find.

Would I use this service myself? Not likely. Not a full no but, I do enjoy the plugin shopping, even when I don’t get results. Also, I don’t really think I can communicate fully everything I want to someone else. Being a polite Canadian I would accept the results and then go along and try to find what I really needed on my own.

However, I do think this is an idea/ service which will work. If you are willing to pay for a premium WordPress theme… why not pay someone to help you get the plugins you need? Give you something of a guarantee that the plugins will work for you and help you get them loaded, installed and working too. They don’t claim to be hand-holders but they will give assistance with the recommended plugins. A very good idea for people who don’t want to DIY all the time.

“To be frank, this is a total experiment for me. There are times when it is incredibly difficult to keep Tidy Repo going, but enough people appear to find it useful that I want to keep it around. Maybe that’s just a long way of saying Tidy Repo would be a dream full-time gig for me, if I ever had the opportunity to do so,” he said.

It’s not uncommon for those who have created a helpful tool or community resource, such as Tidy Repo or GenerateWP, to try to find a way to monetize their efforts. Is there a market for the Tidy Repo co-owners’ experiment? Or will WordPress users continue to stumble on the best plugins through trial and error?

via Tidy Repo Launches WordPress Plugin Recommendation Service.

Blog This! – I’m Not Giving up on Blogger

blogthisBlog This! – Chrome Web Store.

Although it feels like no one from Google is behind the wheel at Blogger these days. I still love Blogger. I’d like to use it but it’s not easy. Blogger is under developed and fairly ignored.

I think it began with WordPress snobbery.

There was a time when people either used Blogger or WordPress. A lot of people were using Blogger. It was simple, basic and you didn’t need to know a lot about HTML, scripts, plugins or themes. If you wanted to – you could work with extra code, themes and add-ons for Blogger too. But, ideally it was for people who wanted a site up without the hurdles of doing it all themselves.

You would think that would be ideal for most people. It was, for a time. Then came along the WordPress snobs. People who thought Blogger wasn’t good enough because WordPress let you do more and was gaining in community support with even more extras, gadgets and gizmos.

Blogger fell behind. It could have kept going, in second place but still strong… only Google put it on a back burner and didn’t keep developing it. There was a very big update with adding new themes, flexibility with themes and a lot more layout options. But, that was years ago.

I noticed a new post about using Blogger with your own domain, making it easier. But, that doesn’t give people a reason to use Blogger. It needs updates, new community and fresh ideas.

Please almighty Google, don’t let Blogger die!

What Happens When your Software Stops Being Supported?

Capturevia – SlideShowPro.

This site for SlideShowPro brings up the issue of support and time. It’s not so much an issue with free plugins, themes and software. Though we miss them and wish we could have stuck with what was working for us, you don’t get promises of forever for free.

What about the software you pay for?

It’s no wonder developers offer support in time blocks, like a year for whatever price they set. But, as someone who pays for (premium) software (themes and plugins included) I don’t want to pay for one year and then be cut off. I want the forever package. Even though it isn’t literally possible.

So, how long do you expect software to be supported?

If a developer offers support “forever” or for a “lifetime” what does that mean in a practical and real sense? What happens in the case of SlideShowPro where people paid and expected the software to be supported and available for as long as they wanted or needed it?

Create Your Own Unique WordPress Theme

WordPressNo matter how many WordPress themes I look at and try, I never find exactly what I want. But, I do find more things I would like to have.

When I ran my sites on Blogger I began using simple HTML and basic CSS. I learned how the Blogger code worked with the additional CSS and HTML I added. That was the beginning of my learning how to create my own blog themes (also known as templates and layouts).

A WordPress theme seemed a lot more complicated, at that time. Blogger isn’t as simple as it once was then. But, I still like Blogger for anyone getting started with blogging.

Design, Create, Make your own WordPress Theme

 

Why Should you Create your own WordPress Theme?

One reason for creating your own WordPress theme is to have something uniquely your own. There are a lot of blogs online now, many of them have the same look. They call them cookie cutters because they all seem to have been created with the same look, only small things like a different colour background to give them any unique look.

If someone is intimidated about breaking into the coding and making their own theme they can still take the baby steps and begin by changing their background to something of their own creation. Use a photograph you have taken. Get started with Gimp and other graphic software and create a design and images which you can use as the background, title bars, sidebar headers, etc. You can create hand drawn images and then scan them into an image file which you use on your blog too. There are simple, fairly easy options which will get your blog out of the cookie cutter style.

But, the best is still to create your own theme. Begin by tweaking whatever theme you are using now. Tweak to change the font, the colours for the text. Tweak to change how images are displayed in your blog. Look into other tweaks you can do. There are endless tweaks. As you tweak learn how the code works. What changes you make and how they end up working on the display of your blog.

Once you have been tweaking and feel fairly happy about what you know, get into the real mess and muck of creation – from scratch.

A bit daunted still? No fear. You can use frameworks to give you a base of operations. A framework is the basic code used for a simple WordPress theme.

Don’t sit on the fence forever with your framework. Dabble and play around and make your own theme. It doesn’t have to be rocket science or perfect. A theme evolves over time as WordPress versions change, as blogging itself changes and as your own needs change.

Next stop… once you have a theme consider selling it or offering it on WordPress.org for others to download free. A WordPress theme (if you hit on a unique design and keep it working) can be a great draw for traffic to your site.

I’m still at the dabbling stage with my own WP theme designing. I enjoy window shopping and looking at other themes. For now I’m running the Thesis Framework Theme on my main blog. Most of my other blogs are running on the Clear Line  theme.

Update: Thesis had a lot of changes when Thesis 2.0 came out. I don’t find it usable right now. It lost the user friendliness which was the main thing I liked about it. Since then I have bought Genesis, but, you may as well design your own theme from scratch if you have Genesis. Even the child themes you buy to run with Genesis are very much the same. If you want to make your own themes Genesis is ok, a base. But, if you want something to work out of the box you will find Genesis won’t work for you, unless you want it exactly as it comes.

I’ve looked at other themes and frameworks. I’m really reluctant to purchase any more of them. I have Catalyst with it’s Dynamik child theme and I find it complicated, a lot to read and then I still can’t make the small changes I want. I also have Headway but it has become a case of having to purchase more in order to get anything out of it. (Really disappointed with Headway which I have had since version 1.6 before they made it such a money grab).

WordPress Theme Generators

The Thesis WordPress Theme

I like to try different WordPress themes on my blogs. Maybe I just like having something new. But, usually I’m just looking for something that suits me just a little bit more. In the years since I bought Thesis for WordPress I have found a theme which I can stick with, or come back to.

It’s too bad there isn’t a user group for Thesis. I’ve looked and asked, there isn’t one (so far). I may start one but I don’t really want another project I’m committed to.

DIY Themes: Thesis Child Theme Starter Template

DIY Themes: Thesis Skin Starter Template

I’ve written a post on HubPages about Thesis.

How About a Free Six Month Online Writing Course?

Sign up for HubPages, write a few posts, explore the network. Then sign up for the Apprenticeship Program, it’s free for HubPages writers who want to learn more, make more out of their online writing skills and traffic. The focus is not on the writing but the promoting of your writing. It is a long course, but it’s free – if you are accepted.

Why not try it out? Read about it in the Learning Center.

Here is the basic curriculum:

Apprenticeship Lesson Themes

Month 1: Online Media 101
Month 2: Getting Found Online
Month 3: Photos and Video
Month 4: Making Money & Understanding Your Traffic
Month 5: Developing a Following
Month 6: Establishing a Multi-Platform Personal Brand

You’ll be getting paid for your writing and you’re bound to learn something to improve how you work and promote your work online. Plus, the contacts you will make.

Exercise with Writing Themes

From Writing Forward: Three Fiction Writing Exercises

How do you start writing a new story? What is the original idea that germinates into a story? For me it tends to be the theme or some small idea that becomes part of a larger plot. I like this writing exercise because it’s how things start for me, most of the time.

3. Theme Exercise: Universal Ideas

Theme is difficult to explain, but Wikipedia does a good job:

A theme is a broad idea, message, or moral of a story. The message may be about life, society, or human nature. Themes often explore timeless and universal ideas and are almost always implied rather than stated explicitly. Along with plot, character, setting, and style, theme is considered one of the fundamental components of fiction.
I usually think of theme as the big questions that a story asks or its underlying philosophy.

The exercise: Choose a theme and write a list of ways in which a theme can be executed through the course of a story.

You can choose a theme for the characters you sketched in the first exercise or for the three-act structure you developed in the second exercise. For example, in a story where two characters are vying for the same job, the theme might be dream fulfillment (if it’s one or both of the characters’ dream job).

As an alternative, try to identify themes in other stories. Think about your favorite books, movies, and TV shows and make lists of some themes you’ve found in storytelling.