The Care & Feeding of a Baby Blog

So you’ve created (well really, you and I created) this nice new place on the web, that’s all you. Your brilliance. Your thing. For sale. And most likely for free, are your thoughts, expressed in the form of writing.  All hanging out there naked. For other people to read. And sometimes react or respond to (comments, emails).

It can be a lil nerve-wracking. In the beginning. And getting over and around your pressing-publish-button fears can be a very necessary distraction. You’ve got to see if you can do this. If you can bare your soul to win your ultimate freedom… getting paid to do what you love!

And this post is actually about something even more important. It’s about taking care of the baby once it’s born. Keeping its immunization records up-to-date. So it can become a nice healthy blog, stable for the receiving of all your good creative mojo and optimystical expansion.

This week, I discovered a gigantic gaping hole. And that was, that I haven’t really been telling you the whole story behind the importance of keeping your baby blog immunized or….. updating.

You know, you land on your WordPress admin panel and there is a little circle next to the plugins nav (just like when you have a comment) or this nagging message at the near-top of your admin screen that says something like “Upgrade to WordPress 3.0.1. Please update now.”

Yes, I’ve done this video post on how to upgrade your WordPress software. And talked about backing up your WordPress installation regularly, especially right before a Mercury Retrograde. I’ve also tackled showing y’all how to update your Thesis theme (plus covered several other very helpful topics) here in my video library.

But I think somewhere in translation, while having fun & taking it slow and easy with you, I forgot to emphasize the point of this here post:

If you don’t upgrade your WordPress software, your blog will go poof.

Updating WordPress

WordPress isn’t asking us to upgrade to their latest & greatest simply to introduce cool new features & functionality. They are patching security vulnerabilities in the WordPress software core. Not because WordPress sucks (WordPress is actually god. Period), but because more and more people are using WordPress which makes it a big target.

Updating Plugins

Right after WordPress software upgrades, come plugin upgrades. I’ve also done a video tutorial on what they are and how to upgrade them. Super easy. And again, hackers are looking for vulnerabilities and plugins are one way into the core of your blog, and so become another target of said malicious intentions.

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Click for full screen version.

Looking for video help like this?
Check out the Video Library

Updating Your Thesis Theme

After plugins, your theme files are also a target. Make sure your theme is always up-to-date and upgrade it regularly. The creator of the Thesis theme will email you when introducing a new version. (Those emails are often forwarded to me… with a “please help me” distress call embedded in them).

In my custom Thesis web design package, I offer 90-minutes of online teaching/training/showing. I’m thinking going through the steps of learning how to upgrade & backup your blog are things you can definitely do. Once you know, what to do.

Wanna know what to do? Set up an online training session with me for some hand holding through the maze (or gawd forbid, to perform blog resuscitation… Which I did this weekend. The babe was in ICU for the first few days of the week, doing well now and we expect will have a full recovery).

Happy optimystical endings!

And… perform upgrades promptly & plan regular backups for your blogs ladies!

Aweber or Feedburner?

Writing is easy, when you are open to receiving the prompts given endlessly by life. (This post is inspired by my latest new client from Milan, Italy. Yes, Italy… as in Eat, Pray, Love… and her Italiano accent is delish!)

So, if you are new to my blog, I’ll say again, I help women who are just starting out. You may have a static web presence, or both a static web presence and a blog or maybe you want to add a blog to your static web presence.

Or, maybe after playing around in the micro-bizness entrepreneurial internets, you’ve realized that each and every web presence you create requires time/energy/attention to maintain and grow it so, like me, you’ve combined it all into one place.

My web clients come to me because they are just beginning to figure it all out… and want some hand-holding along the way.

That’s where I come in and help you figure out what’s best for you, right now.

Sometimes, just the expense of creating the web presence itself is the investment. If you are working with me, you’ll know it’s never finished and you keep on expanding. Yourself and your biz and the web presence you’ve created to go with it.

In the beginning, you don’t have a lot of cash. However, you do want to make it easier for people who are visiting your new shiny web presence to be in contact with you. It’s a form of leveraging your investment.

One way to do this is by offering a way for your visitors to “opt-in” to receiving email messages from you every time you post. This is the best place to begin. Caveat here is you will continue expanding.

This is why I recommend Feedburner. It’s (another) free service from Google. I talk about using it and setting it up your self in the video tutorial of this post. It’s also just one of the many items on the checklist of web presence essentials I offer in my one-and-only webification package.

But maybe you’ve heard about Aweber? And you want to know which is better.

Essentially, at some point, we can expand beyond what our current foundation, tools or skill set can offer.

I talk about this a lot actually, especially when comparing Blogger with WordPress. Even though I admit that WordPress is god, it’s not the best place for everyone to begin. We need smaller steps and Blogger helps the technology novice practice being a web content publisher; building up your bloggy skills which are then transferred when you decide Blogger just isn’t enough.

Same will be true with Feedburner. You’ll know it’s not enough for you anymore when you want more control over what your emails look like and when they go out to your list of subscribers.

But it’ll cost ya.

So this would be the perfect time to consider Aweber. For a low monthly recurring cost of $19 a month, you can get this added flexibility with your email automation plus much more.

So what happens though, with your Feedburner subscribers once you decide to migrate to Aweber?

Well fortunately, both Aweber and Feedburner play nicely together. The biggest drawback to moving to Aweber is that your Feedburner subscribers will have to “opt-in” again to Aweber because of it’s strict anti-spam policy.

The workaround for this is simply to write a post about it. Since it will hit your Feedburner subscriber’s inbox anyway, you can get them on board with your expansion and invite them to opt-in again.

Not totally elegant, but really, honestly, what growth and expansion ever is?

I would recommend not letting your list grow too big before you migrate it though. You will have some drop off. Don’t fret. We are never in one place for very long anyway.

So my bottom line and why I recommend Feedburner out the gate is it’s free. And pretty easy to use and install.

If you are serious about growing your list and have the financial resources to commit to the recurring monthly fee straight out the gate, Aweber is the premier email automation and list building tool.

  • Need help figuring out how to use your Aweber account? I can help.
  • Need a web presence that shines with the brilliance of you? I can help.
  • Need to free yourself from limiting thoughts about your ability to really do this (the web thang, the entrepreneur thang or any other thang you deem important in your life)? Yes, I can help with that too.

Here’s What Other Smart People On The Web Are Saying

WordPress is god. Period.

The Best Technology Advice I Have To Offer You

WordPress is god. Period. This could be the end of the post because it is just that short & sweet. But let me just elaborate briefly on why it would be silly to consider using anything other than WordPress for creating and managing your web presence.

You don’t have a ton of money.

You aren’t rich yet! The good news is you can grow your business easily using WordPress meaning start out with one blog post and one page with no way for anyone to pay you (it’s a 20% start) and grow into churning some serious cashola through a highly customized, full-of-automation-and-integration web presence and WordPress will handle it all.

If you can use email, you can learn WordPress.

Honestly, there are a few sharper corners to turn, but with the right help, you can be in control of much of your own web presence because WordPress really is pretty easy to use. And again, if you don’t have deep pockets starting off (and who does?) then you are gonna be faced with some amount of DIYing it.

You might not always do your own web creation & maintenance, but you must know how to do some of it. You must be accountable to your own stuff happening or it just won’t happen. Knowing how to do some of it helps you collaborate more effectively with the team of people who might one day be helping you with it. Not to mention you end up inspiring yourself with brilliant new ideas because you are having so much fun getting your tech-savvy on.

WordPress help is everywhere.

In all forms. In all shapes and sizes. With all kinds of personalities. @JohnnyBTruant, @Rhiannon_z, @Mandalove @sarahbray… (more web design resources can be found gathered neatly on one of my Twitter lists).

Go to Google and search for WordPress Video Tutorial and have a buffet-styled feast of figuring it out yourself. Or, sign up for a class. Or, hire someone to help you with the learning curve and show you how. I teach and train my clients how to do it themselves. Which is as fun as helping them get it created. And with optimystical, it’s all about the fun!

Another Thesis Theme Review

What is Thesis?

Thesis is a theme for your self-hosted WordPress website or blog.

the Thesis framework for WordPress

A theme is part of the inner workings of your web presence that introduces flexibility and efficiency when it comes to stylizing your unique web presence. By stylizing, I not only mean the colors, fonts, etc. (referred to as the look & feel) but also how you share information on your website (referred to as Information Architecture).

Most people get stuck on thinking design is merely colors, font choice, and use of imagery or custom design artwork (i.e., branding elements such as logos, header banners, sidebar buttons & banners). However both look & feel and Information Architecture comprise Design.

Why is this important for you to know?

One of the things I stress a lot on my own web presence, is the inevitability of change. Whether I’m helping women get their tech-savvy on or people in general discover alternative strategies for helping them improve their quality of life, it all revolves around that one important word. Change.

“The only constant is change.” Heraclitus, Greek philosopher

I won’t go all philosophical on you. But it’s true. The biggest “attachment” my clients come to the table with is the idea that once they create it (a web presence or whatever), it’s done.

And after years of working in Corporate America and trying to live by that standard, I nearly drove myself crazy until I embraced the idea that it’s never done. In fact, this is my number one guideline for staying optimystical during your webification process.

Learning how to detach from the outcome “it is finished” will help introduce the space for your creativity to emerge. A space that is undefined and in the process of becoming more defined as it oozes out of the artist.

Because change is the only constant, you’ll want a web presence that is flexible; able to grow with you and your business. And along with flexibility, you’ll want to keep in mind scalability. How easy will it be for me to continue extending myself or business on the web?

Thank the blogging gods for WordPress for providing a powerful foundation for managing your web presence. And then, hold the door open for a wide-welcome of the Thesis theme.

The Thesis theme makes it easy for you or a designer to make simple-to-radical changes almost effortlessly.

So let’s break it down even more, shall we?

Information Architecture

Today, you want three columns on your web presence. A big juicy “content” column and two “sidebars.” No problem.

Tomorrow (or next year), you change you mind and decide two columns is better. One juicy content column, one sidebar. Again, no problem. A few clicks on your WordPress dashboard at your Thesis options. Done!

Or let’s say you decide you want to keep three columns, but you want the layout to be skinny sidebar, juicy content, skinny sidebar. A very popular approach. Again, click click click. Done.

In the past, when a web site was built from the ground up… meaning every last bit of code is custom, these simple changes would mean a significant overhaul. Or, paying a skilled technician (web coder) to rearrange the code for you to get it to display the way you want. Time + money.

Because Thesis makes these types of changes so easy, you can do it yourself (really); saving yourself (you guessed it) time and money.

Look and Feel

From the look and feel side of the house, changing fonts and colors is, again, as simple as a few clicks. Whether your want the body text or sidebar text affected, those options are provided for with Thesis.

Introducing a custom header banner… again, once you have the artwork, it’s a matter of cutting & pasting the code into the right place on your WordPress dashboard.

But Mynde, what about free templates all over the web?

Yes. There are free themes and templates all over the web. It’s true! So why spend $87 bucks on Thesis?

Free templates are great. Really. I used a few of them for WordPress and many, many more for Blogger.

I encountered three big problems when I was using free templates.

#1 – A free template is too cookie-cutter for most people who want a unique web presence that represents who they are, what they do. They feel constrained by certain limitations that come with each individual free template. You invest some time and energy into making it un-coookie-cutter only to run into some very real blockages for growing forward that can only be solved using a more flexible content management system and/or template.

Thesis solves all of this. Simply scroll to the top of this article and begin reading from “What is Thesis?” :-)~

#2 – Any code tweaks I made to the free template, and believe me, you will have some because there is always something on the free template that you need modified or changed slightly. Rarely have I seen the free template utilized in its entirety straight out-of-the-box (or, after you’ve downloaded and installed it).

When WordPress introduces upgrades to its platforming technology (which happens all the time because the people at WordPress are constantly working to maintain their state-of-the-art content management system with security upgrades and functionality enhancements, to name a few), this can wreck havoc to your custom free template tweaks. Many times causing complete re-work of the tweaks. Or basically, re-investing the time, energy, resources that made your free template custom for you, all over again!

Thesis is built with this very thing in mind. Every custom tweak you implement on Thesis is saved in a way that helps minimize the need to re-customize everything all over again when WordPress (or the Thesis template itself) introduces an upgrade.

#3 – Support. When a free blogging template is born, it’s usually been created by a single developer who may or may not have the time to answer your specific questions about how to use it, how to fix issues that are introduced as a result of upgrades. This varies from free template to free template, of course.

With Thesis, a gynormous community of people who are already using the Thesis theme comes with it. This means forums for getting your questions answered and in some cases, by the Thesis developer himself (@pearsonified on Twitter and http://www.pearsonified.com/ on the web).

Not to mention, so many professional web designers are using Thesis for their clients, you can easily find other people in the same space I am (providing custom Thesis designs) to help you take your Thesis theme to the next level.

For me personally, I’m a starter-outer. I get you going without breaking the bank plus teach you how to use your WordPress dashboard including your Thesis options.

Why am I writing about Thesis?

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support CommunityWell, it’s true, that throughout most of my articles, I’ll provide an affiliate link. That means, I get a small kick-back from people who decide to purchase (in this case) Thesis for their WordPress blog using my Thesis affiliate link.

Yes, affiliate income generation is a popular strategy on the web. But it seriously does not pay my bills. It does, however, offset my overhead. And this is a good thing!

So my intention with my blog and anything I write about is not to make money by writing about the product itself. Yes, I’m here to make money, no lie. However, I enjoy making money by being in service to others. Leveraging my own life experiences to help you round corners and jump out of window ledges.

I wrote this article because so many of my best clients really need some support with the language of web technology, i.e. domain names, URL, hosting, Thesis theme, etc. All words you hear, but may not comprehend when you are just starting out. Which is my ideal client.

So Thesis is a theme. It’s utilized to make changes to your web presence more efficient. It’s flexible and scalable. Helping your web presence grow with you and your biz. It’s not free, but you get what you pay for. And the $87 bucks is a wise investment in a theme that is widely used and supported. And all upgrades to the Thesis theme are free after you purchase it.

It’s why I choose Thesis for my own WordPress web presence and why I recommend it to my best clients. Not to make money by selling it to you. But to help you make the best decision for you right now. So you can take the first step to getting webified more easily and confidently head in the direction you are wanting to go with you and your biz.

Thanks for reading and I hope this has helped to demystify some of your webification process. If you like my optimystical approach, I’d love to help you get your tech-savvy on. You can find out more about that under the Expand Your Biz tab.

And one last time, here’s where you can get Thesis. And if you’d like to contribute to lowering my overhead, Thank You and use this link instead.

Optimystically Yours,

How To Build A Contact Page in 3 1/2 Minutes

Hello. It’s me, your optimystical guide to getting technology to work for you.

This is the beginning of something new. Well, if you are an existing webification client of mine, this won’t be that new. But in case you don’t know me very well or what exactly I do to help coaches, healers, writers and really artists of all kinds (each of us is one afterall) get their tech-savvy on, this new thing I’m doing will help.

If you are just starting out on WordPress using the Thesis theme and want to learn how to do that better, so you can expand your web presence as you and your business expand, these little videos I use with my clients might be just the thing for you.

Today, I talk about building a basic contact page with a web form that sends inquiries from people visiting your website to your inbox. Pretty nice! My coach, Charlie Gilkey, had me add this to my website a couple of months ago and I’ve been pleasantly surprised how frequently people use it to make contact with me. Win!

This video is first cut. Meaning, I didn’t stop it or do it over. I wrote down a few notes about the path I wanted to take and hit record. So you’ll hear me say “Wordpreshhh” and to that I optimystically replied “Oh well!”

It’s not perfect, or the best or the only way. It’s the way I do it. For myself and for my webification customers.

And coming so soon, it’s like just around the publish button corner, is my bigger new thing… which is access to a library of video tutorials I’ve created while helping my clients get their tech-savvy on. I’ve compiled over a dozen of these lil babies and I’m planning on making those available to everyone, soon!

For now though, grab your popcorn and let’s get on with our feature presentation.

How To Build A Contact Page In 3 (and 1/2) Minutes

[This is a video tutorial post, so you might need to click through if you’re reading this via email or RSS.]

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I got my bitchin desktop wallpaper from Rachael Acklin for free!

Content: The First Few Words

Tech Savvy 101 is a series of posts designed to help demystify some terminology so you can get your brain around what it really takes to start getting your tech savvy on.

Yesterday, I talked about the importance of defining core values early on in the web creation process because it provides an anchor, to help you remember, when things get freaky-deeky. Knowing your own values gives you a rope to hold onto to guide you back to a simpler time… when you were clear about what makes you blissfully happy and why the heck you are doing this in the first place.

This being creating that blog or web site for your business.

And even after you do begin to get into the content of you, by discovering your core values, and you’ve got this nifty anchoring device to help steer you through uncharted technology (and regular life) territories, there is still this issue of your first post (or page if you’re using WordPress)… actually lots of them. Staring back at you. And they’re blank. Stark raving mad white-ass blankety blank!

Or…

Maybe you already have some content. You’ve pulled your stuff together (you remember what that was like the first time?) In fact, you might have pages of good stuff, but you’d like to go a little further with it. Something (not quite sure what) is getting lost in translation somewhere. And the sneaky suspicion, at least one of them, is it might be your content. You ask yourself, “What exactly am I saying here? Who am I saying it for?”

Quick Detour

Search Engine Optimization, sometimes referred to by just its initials, SEO, is basically the steps a web owner gets to take to “prime” his/her web presence to appear in a search engine result. That is, your perfect person types in a search term to Google and YOUR website URL hits them smack in the face (although no one gets hurt).

Right after, and I mean, immediately after creating your first web page/post, you will be thinking about this very topic. It’s the next logical step. How do I get people to see my website or notice me? Right?

However, if you pay some moola to one of these specialized companies who help with SEO implementation and you haven’t gotten your content savvy up to speed, all the traffic you drive to your web presence may not necessarily result in buyers. Or anything really. Just a lot of cattle, moving through. Kickin’ up dust.

Your buyers are looking for your thang, in your voice. Except they don’t know what your thang looks like, exactly. This is why when we start with the writing part, we don’t even really get into the “This Is What I Do” part until after the prospect has some amount of confidence that you can help them with their “situation.”

Your buyers want to be seen and understood. And the only real way to do that (using a blog or website) is via content. Writing about it. Essentially, talking about the stuff that keeps them up at night.

Except as business owners, we’re all ready to tell them about the features and benefits of what we got. We are already in the solution. And our perfect peeps doesn’t even know whether or not what we have is perfect for them. We haven’t given them a chance to make that choice. We are all hot and bothered about how great our great stuff is. And it’s great! I know it is. I got great stuff. You got great stuff! It’s just that my perfect peeps are not showing up ready to buy anything. They want relief. They have a challenge or situation and they are frustrated. So I’ve learned I cannot shove my chicken soup down their throat. No matter how good it is!

But in the beginning, starting out by writing down the “This Is What I Do” stuff is easier. Because we love it and we’ve been eating, drinking, sleeping it; because it’s our business. And our web presence does need this information. It’s critical. But not as critical as going to where your perfect peeps are first… going with them into their challenge and meeting them there.

So don’t go paying for SEO unless you are certain you’re getting your content savvy ON. Otherwise, even if your perfect peeps come your way off a search referral, if you’re still talking about how great your stuff is and not what you can help them with (their problemo)… they’ll miss all your goodness.

Which would be really sad.

Resuming Post Topic

Back to the first few words on those blankety-blank pages & posts.

If you don’t have a clue about what those first few words should be, I can help you with that. If after you get those first few words down and even finish your first post and begin to wonder, what other pages or posts do I need to include? I can help you with that also.

If you have been thinking that you’d really like to get a web presence for that thing you do or book you’re writing, one that’s real and genuine, drawn out of your heart (disguised as values) and built by your own two hands, yes, I can help you do that too.

But only if… only if you decide to do something today. Pick a place and start. And I can help you.

The special gift you have to offer now is presented best by just taking things easily and simply, one step at a time. ~Osho

Otherwise, here’s something on giving yourself permission.