Custom Sidebar Plugin

I’ve been actively blogging my brains out since about 2002. When I started, I had multiple web presences all over the place. Several on Blogger and several self-hosted installations of traditional ground-up HTML web sites I had built after leaving my corporate gig at the end of 2006.

In 2009, after Rope Swings & Avalanches, I was kinda tired. Especially at the thought of starting over again. And, I didn’t want to give up on my dream of doing what I love. So this time around, I wanted to focus on introducing more ease and grace into my own web presencing process and my next design.

I took all the expert blogging advice I had ever received (which was really good), threw it out the window and gave myself permission to consolidate everything under one web presence. I choose my name, not some business-ey name, like my original coaching web presence which was called Cognizance Coaching.

I had discovered that not only did people not know how to pronounce Cognizance, they didn’t really know what it meant, it was hard to remember and would put more search engine optimization “heavy” on me, the biz owner, in order to get discovered.

I had always had my name secured at Godaddy in my domain name repository. So I took the consolidation plunge, switched over to the god of all content management systems, WordPress and began using the Thesis theme; acknowledging that my name won’t likely change, even though what I do and what I call it will.

What does this have to do with the Custom Sidebar plugin?

Well, it’s a little bit of back story, to help you understand, why you may eventually need it yourself.

Right out the gate, I’m going to probably discourage you from doing this. Mostly because, you need to understand some basic web presencing terms like evergreen.

All the widgets and banner ads, etc. in your sidebar are considered evergreen because they are always on (displayed). Like in nature, those trees that stay green forever, even in winter. Also always on, will be your static pages that are available from the primary navigation bar of your web presence.

But just recently in the spring of 2011, I realized my two sidebars were increasingly cluttering up my web presence. Creating way too many options for you the web visitor to look at and decide which one to click on. Not good in the Usability world. Not good at all.

Remember, you always want to make it easier for your visitors to know what to do next. You want to guide them to the most important thing you need them to do… which is usually subscribe to a list (start watching as you move around on other blogs and you’ll see this call-to-action usually always near the tippy top of the web presence).

After that, it’s really up to you, the biz owner, to decide what’s most important. For me personally, I want to give visibility to my product offerings and then perhaps my “best of” article links.

Problem is, when you do many things in several categories like I do (astrology, life coaching and web presencing for women), one evergreen sidebar will not do.

I don’t want to be telling you about my astrology products when you are reading a how-to-guide tutorial on Setting Up Your Free GoDaddy Email Account, right? I’d rather be showing you my technology products instead.

So when you visit my website, you’ll notice as I continue with my redesign (live and unfettered by the possibility of showing you the imperfections that occur along the way) that my sidebars change as you navigate through the major categories of my site.

WordPress Plugin

I’m doing that with a plugin called Custom Sidebars. And this post is really for those of you who have been blogging for a while and maybe going through a major overhaul to re-presence yourself; like several of my latest clients.

You’ll see from the link, the developer of the plugin does a great job at showing you some basics about using the plugin. And if you need some personal one-on-one help, you can always set up a WordPress consulting session with me and I’ll give you my expert feedback on whether or not I think you’re ready for it and help you get started using it.

I plan on doing some regular posts on the plugins I’m personally using and the ones I install in my custom wordpress web design package. Because generosity rocks and I love empowering you to use technology to help you do that thing you love.

Until next time,

 

 

Why This WordPress Sugar Mama Recommends Godaddy

Yeah upsells suck, but at the end of the day, GoDaddy makes the web stuff of my life so much easier.

This is really simple. Godaddy’s rates stay extremely competitive while providing the best customer support & service around.

When it comes to choosing a place to get your domain name or set up your custom Thesis WordPress installation for your web presence on their network of hosting servers, GoDaddy is the one-stop shop that just makes my web life (and my clients) easier.

GoDaddy Domain NamesManage all your domains. Yes you may have multipes. And did you know you can point several domain names to a single web presence? Godaddy domain management makes this super easy to do.
Grow your hosting needs as your business grows. With Godaddy, you can upgrade any time to more space, so you don’t ever have to bite off more than you can chew (raise your hand if you’ve ever done that.) Yeah, it’s a big deal when you’re just starting out. You don’t need a huge hosting package. Just a place to get your garden growing so your business can show you what it needs and then you can make choices from that place.

When you purchase your Godaddy shizzle, make sure and get auto-renew on everything! This way, you will avoid any service interruption. And the longer you can extend your term when you purchase with Godaddy, the more you’ll save. If you have the budget resources from the top, and you’re serious about getting your web presence on, commit to a five year plan, if you can. You can always review where you are later and make necessary changes then (cancel, extend, switch domain name service providers).

The biggest con for using Godaddy is Upsell Hell. And for all the benefit of having a live person to talk to 24/7 that helps me get exactly what I need, it’s a more than fair trade-off for doing business with them. So just say no to the upsells. You can always get whatever they are offering later.

And here’s more honest truth… most of my clients don’t know what they are doing when they begin. That’s why they need me. And why Godaddy is such a perfect match for both of us. Whether they’re helping you complete your purchase transaction or helping me work out a complicated DNS issue and every place in between…

Bottom line: yeah upsells suck, but at the end of the day, GoDaddy makes the web stuff of my life (and my clients) so much easier.

So I say GoDaddy! (yes, that’s an affiliate link)

Web Hosting

In my last post, I started talking about the three critical ingredients that are needed to create a web page, web site or web presence. No matter where you are on the map… small business owner just starting out or big business generating hundreds of clicks per day, each part is essential and needs to be addressed or there can be no web *anything.*

Ingredient #2: Web Hosting

Web Hosting is rented space where your web content lives.

When you’re looking at a web page, the images and text you see are created with code (HTML and other types of computery code). Your browser translates that code into something you can understand. But that file, that code, has to live somewhere so your browser can find it. Purchasing web hosting is essentially renting space on a powerful computer that is accessible via the Internet, 24/7.

The birdseye view of where these powerful computers live are essentially refrigerated buildings, lined with rows and rows of computers (called servers because of how the computer itself is setup or configured). Each computer server can have many web sites and some web sites have several servers. It just depends on the size/needs of the web site. These servers are connected to the Internet with data lines that are many times faster than DSL or cable. They’re backed up and climate-controlled and protected in many ways against a webmaster’s worst nightmare: server downtime. It does happen, but good web hosts have guaranteed “up” time of over 99%.

Bottom line: paying a web host is like renting a little virtual apartment where your web site’s code can live.

A Few Reasons Why It Wouldn’t Be A Good Idea To Host Your Own Web Site

Yes, it’s true, since web pages are basically hosted on almost the same kind of computer you might be reading this blog post from, you could host a page or web site on your own computer. However, you’ll have to have your computer on and connected to the internet 24/7 (otherwise, it’s like arriving at your storefront with the “Closed” sign hanging in the window). If people are coming to your computer all the time, you’ll have different security considerations also. And if too many people come all at once, they might even possibly overwhelm your computer causing it to crash.

So to avoid this snorezy headache, getting a hosting service provider (like GoDaddy) will lower your risk, provide you more protection, and back up your web site files regularly.

Can You Afford Hosting?

Yes, you can.

You can find places that will host your site for free. Some of them are “free” because they’ll actually show ads above or on your website. You get to decide whether or not you are willing to have ads on your website in order to have your site hosted for free.

Or you can pay less than $10 per month for ad-free hosting and you can pay more or less depending on what features you need. Since we’re essentially talking about renting space, the first question will be: How much space do you need for your files? How much space do your images and code take up? Probably less than you think!

WordPress.com: To The Rescue (Again)

So if all this tech talk makes you want to take a nap, just hold on one second because I’ve got some good news.

Not only does WordPress.com help solve the domain name thing (making it unnecessary to have a domain name but if you do already have one, that’s OK too), WordPress.com also helps solve the hosting questions.

You don’t need a separate web hosting account with some other company (like GoDaddy) that charges you by the month. There are other services out there that either build in their hosting costs (such as Typepad.com or Squarespace.com) or require you to host their software (like WordPress.org) and you might not be ready for that (yet). WordPress.com is completely web-based, and all you need is a web browser to sign up.

Combine your domain name (web address) with a web host (WordPress.com or other) and presto! you are almost in business.

The third essential ingredient for creating a web presence is next!

A Domain Name

Three critical ingredients go into creating a web page, web site or web presence. No matter where you are on the map… small business owner just starting out or big business generating hundreds of clicks per day, each part is essential and needs to be addressed or there can be no web *anything.*

Ingredient #1: Domain Name

URL. Web address. Domain name. Words we hear nearly every day. But what exactly are they and more importantly, why should you care?

URL stands for “Uniform Resource Locator” and it means the same thing as “Web address.” When you open a browser, like Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox, and type an address into the address bar, your Web browser will connect to that address and display web pages created by the owner.

The domain name is a specific part of a web address–the part that (often) ends in .com or .org or .net.

Why should you care?
You can’t have a web page, web site or online business without a web address. When you open your web browser, you need an address to type in there so you can actually go somewhere. That’s just the very first part, one essential piece, of creating a web presence.

Choosing a domain name is important when creating your web presence. Why? Your domain name will represent a big part of who you are on the web (referred to as your Brand). It will serve as the very first touch point between you and your customers. If you choose your domain name well, your customers will know how to find you or your product a lot easier!

WordPress.com: The Less Scarifying Place To Begin

If you are just starting out getting your web stakes into the ground, I recommend WordPress.COM because it’s free and easy to use. WordPress.com provides you a domain name (well technically a sub domain) for free so for today, you can stop worrying about how to buy your own domain name and who to buy it from, and get on with putting that cool thing you do out onto the web. WordPress will you give you a sub domain that looks like “http://mydomain.wordpress.com/”.

And if you already have a domain name or don’t really care for how WordPress’ sub domain looks, in a few simple steps, WordPress helps you take an existing domain you’ve purchased and apply it over the top of your WordPress.com sub domain so your place on the web can look more professional.

However, if you want more flexibility and control over extending your web presence and want a custom created design, I recommend WordPress.ORG. WordPress is the god of content management systems and with some basic training, anyone can learn to use it.

7 Tips For Selecting A Domain Name

Since WordPress makes it easy by taking away the how-to-buy-it part and the who-to-buy-it from part, the only part left for you to do is choose yours. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Keep your domain name short
  • Make it memorable; easy to repeat & hard to misspell
  • Relate it to your core business or business product
  • Use search engine keyword(s), if possible
  • .com is the very best choice, if available
  • Register your personal name (domain names are cheap, so why not?)
  • Avoid hyphenation, if possible

For more in depth information, SEOmoz has a great article.

The second essential ingredient for creating a web presence is this way.

Corralling Your Email With Gmail

Gmail helps me corral my email into one place so I (hopefully) never miss it when you send me something.

Last time I talked about email accounts, only it was all about using the free email account you got when/if you’re using Godaddy to purchase & manage your domain name (what’s that?).

Why I Love Gmail

There are many, many other things that make Gmail cool other than these two things I’m about to mention that make Gmail really cool for me.

Numero Uno

The advantage of having an internet hosted email account (an email account with an internet email service provider such as Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail) is that no matter what computer you’re using, if it has internet connection, you can use it to access your email. From anywhere. In the world. Just need an internet-enabled computer. Score!

I like this option for traveling without my laptop or for when my computer (usually a hardware kinda thingy but software too) goes haywire like during some mercury retrograde periods.

Numero Dos

Corralling your email. Oh yes, yes, yes! The point of this post! I have several different email accounts.

Quick example:

  • mynde_mayfield  (at)  yahoo  (dot)  com,
  • Mynde  (at)  CStars4U  (dot)  com,
  • Mynde  (at)  CognizanceCoaching  (dot)  com,
  • LifeCoach (at)  FreeFromFear  (dot)  net…
  • I could go on…

If you are like me and also have several different email accounts, then using Gmail to corral all your various accounts into one Gmail account is the bomb! Using the Gmail “Account Tab” options, I can send email from my new-and-recently-set-up free Godaddy email account to my main email client (I’m on a Windows-based machine so I’m using Microsoft Outlook). And voilla, I’m receiving email from up to 5 email addresses in one place, where I like to read it!

Did you get all that?

I’m a little pressed for time this morning. I have family folks visiting for this wonderful week ending in fireworks. You know the one… the 4th o’July! Woot! o/

So instead of doing the whole screenshot-y thing which I normally like to do, you’ll have to check out some other cool resources I’ve dug up.

Attention: there may be some very short advertising slickness on the front end of these; be sure and hang tight for the video tutorial goodness!

  • Login to your Gmail Account, the corraller (this is your primary/gmail account).  Don’t have one? No problem, watch this short video (2m 25s) on how to set one up.
  • What this video called Accounts Tab in Gmail Settings (5m, 24s), which will show you how to make contact with your recently set-up free Godaddy email account(that came with your web hosting package). In this video, the instructor will cover:
    • Telling your Gmail address to display a different email address (specifying a different “Reply to” address) – cool for being super sneaky and basically “masking” your email address label so it says what you want it to say
    • Getting email from other accounts using a POP (sounds scary, keep watching though) – this is the corral part, where Gmail swoops in like an Internet Superhero and gathers all your email into one location. w00t! o/ It then stands-by at attention, awaiting for your instructions for where to send it unless you like to read it on the web, using someone else’s computer from a coffee shop in Italy. double w00t o/ o/

And if you’re still having challenges, you can set-up a WordPress consulting session to hold your hand through the process.

More Resources

Yee-Haw! Email Corralled

Your several email addresses are now nicely organized and being checked for you by Gmail. But what if you aren’t in Italy using someone else’s computer accessing the Google website to log in and retrieve your email? What if you are using your own computer which might be a Mac or Windows based machine?

How do you fetch the Gmail emails from Outlook or set it up for Apple Mail?

This Rodeo’s A Wrap

So that is how I use Gmail today. Seriously makes things a lot easier for me. And I get to tell people “it doesn’t matter what email you send it to.” It all comes to one place anyway – my Inbox!

Besides, in the-not-so-distant-future, things can change (they always do)…

Until next time,

Setting Up Your Free GoDaddy Email Account

Did you know that if you buy a domain with GoDaddy, you get one free email account with it?

Why is this important for you to know? Well, I hear a lot of requests from clients participants who have gotten their tech savvy on in one of my workshops. They say something like, “I’d really enjoy a more professional looking email address or one that matches my new website!” Example: trade in mynde_mayfield (at) yahoo (dot) com email for mynde (at) myndemayfield (dot) com.

So this post is all about getting your free GoDaddy email activated so that you can plug your new, professional looking email in everywhere on your web presence.

The “How-To-Do-It” Part

The first thing you’ll want to do is sign in to your GoDaddy account. Once you’ve signed in, hover over “Email” in the top navigation and select “My Email Account” under Email Management.

Now look for the yellow box in (about) the center of your web browsing screen. You can see in my example below that I’ve highlighted the portion you’re looking for and it says “Free email with domain – Personal Email (1 GB Total/1 Box).” Directly to the right of this is a hyperlink “Use Credit” with the total number of available “free email boxes” in parenthesis to the right. Let’s click it!

Once you click “Use Credit,” the right hand side of your web screen will refresh and present a panel that lists the domain(s) available to use your free email credit with.

Select the domain you want to use (if you only have one domain name with GoDaddy, then there will only be one option) and scroll down the panel and click the green continue button.

Once you’ve clicked the green continue button, you’ll see that the center of your web browsing screen will either show the domain’s newly created email under Email Plans (just below the yellow box from above) or add it to an existing list of domains. In my example below, I’ve highlighted the newly created email which you can see sits between several other email accounts assigned to various domains I previously secured with GoDaddy. If this is your only domain with GoDaddy, you’ll only have one “Manage Account” link to click.

After clicking the Manage Account link for your email box, your browser will open a new tab called Email Control Center (see screenshot below).

In the smaller pop-up that says “You have new or unused email plans!” Click the “Add Address” button. On the very right hand side of the new screen that’s shown you’ll see another gold “Add” button. Click it!

A new pop-up called “Create Mailbox” will appear in the center of your web browsing screen. Fill in the blanks including the Email address, domain and password.

Leave the “Space for this mailbox” as-is (you can change any of these settings later if you want to reallocate more or less space among other free email accounts if you have other GoDaddy domain names).

Also, I never check the “catch-all” checkbox unless you want a lot more spam. You can click the “What is this?” hyperlink to get GoDaddy’s explanation of what this checkbox option does.

Finally, click the gold “OK” button at the bottom of the pop-up when you’re finished.

You’ll see that once the pop-up closes, you’ll be returned to a web browsing screen that shows that your recently added mailbox is pending setup (I’ve highlighted this in the screenshot below). It can take up to a few hours for GoDaddy to do it’s behind-the-scenes thang, however, most of the time, it takes less than an hour. I just keep refreshing the screen (by hitting my F5 key) and waiting for the status to change to active.

Once it is active, go ahead and begin plugging in your new email that features your custom domain in it all over the place (web pages, blogs, biz cards, forums, etc.)

Using Your Free GoDaddy Email

Just so I don’t leave you hanging, GoDaddy does offer a web browsing ability where you log in with your GoDaddy ID and password and read/send new email from your new GoDaddy email account.

This is handy but not something I use mostly because I have so many free GoDaddy emails, it’s kinda of cumbersome.

Next week I’ll talk about what I do use, to corral all my emails from various custom domains, into one place, my Outlook Inbox.

In the meantime though, GoDaddy has a thorough email help section online that can step you through connecting your GoDaddy email to Microsoft Outlook or your Apple computer.

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