• Stone wall WordPress Website Tools

    Now that my site is getting larger, yet before I add all of the eCommerce plugins and features, I’d like to mention what website tools: plugins, widgets, themes, etc. that I’m using. From this list, anyone can copy my steps and have a functioning website.

    Domain Name

    I bought my domain name, for one year, from WordPress. I paid around $20 USD for it. No complaints there.

    Cost: $20 USD/yr

    Hosting

    I host my content with BlueHost. Three years of basic service is about $40 USD. There are lots of places that offer discounts and coupons if you look for them. No real complaints other than the site is a little hard to navigate. I don’t have to do that often but the cPanel is a little slow and clunky.

    Cost: $40 USD/3 yr

    Website Tools

    Content

    I’ve chosen to use a self hosted WordPress.org content manager. Definitely no complaints here, especially after the first week or two of using it.

    Cost: $0 USD

    Theme

    I chose the Shopkeeper theme by getbowtied. It’s been easy to use, but there was a learning curve at the  beginning, something that is probably true for any theme. The biggest headache is not knowing what will happen when you change a setting. It took some time to catch on to what would happen when you changed something. This is exceedingly frustrating when you are trying to get a certain look, rather than just adjusting something that’s already there.

    It would be really helpful when you hover over a setting it would indicate how changes affected the theme. For instance, I fiddled for hours trying to figure out why my links were not showing up as underlined or a different color. Shopkeeper seems to think that they should follow the “main theme color” or something like that. That also influences button text colors, among other things. I don’t really want to edit them individually, a task that would prove futile at your next theme update. If you’re reading this, oh Shopkeeper admins, please provide some more clues in your theme tools or documentation.

    Cost: $49 USD

    Plugins

    Something I recently learned was to use a plugin for anything that doesn’t change the appearance of your theme. This keeps your site from breaking when your theme updates. Another tip I keep seeing out of the corner of my eye is to minimize the number of plugins that you have. They can also break your website.

    Active Plugins:

    • AddToAny Share Button by AddToAny v1.6.17 – I use this to add the social sharing buttons at the top of blog posts. This feature is also available in JetPack, but with less sharing options;
    • Google Analytics for WordPress by praveenchauhan1984 v1.1 – This tool adds the Google Analytics tracking ID to every page. Much easier than hiding a meta tag;
    • jetpack by WordPress.com by Automattic v4.0.3 – Useful for all kinds of website related tasks;
    • Maintenance Mode by Muneeb v3.6 – I turn this on when making a major change to the site. It gives a nice “Under Construction” page. I think jetpack might be able to do this and I will look into it;
    • MOJO Marketplace by Mike Hansen v0.8.2 – Honestly no idea why this is installed or how it’s different that just searching for a plugin or widget the normal way;
    • UpdraftPLUS Backup/Restore by UpDraftPlus.com v1.12.13 – Used for auto backing up the website to Google Drive;
    • Widget Importer & Exporter by Steven Gliebie v1.3.1 – Not sure why I got this either;
    • WP Bakery Visual Composer by Michael M v4.12 – Comes with the ShopKeeper theme. Very useful and I would recommend it if you don’t get a theme, or if you get a free one. It’s like using Wix.com or similar website builders;
    • Yoast SEO by Team Yoast v3.3.1 – The pinnacle of SEO. I’m not sure if it works, but it does have handy red, orange or green lights to help you steer towards high ranked search results.

    You can find these plugins in your WordPress Admin -> Plugins tool. I included the author so that you can sort through the junk better. These folks are tricky and try to name their sorry plugins similar to the good ones to to trick us fine folks. Build a wall; stay safe.

    Cost: $0 USD

    Widgets

    I’m not using any widgets that didn’t come prepackaged with WordPress. No fancy stuff here.

    Cost: $0 USD

    Content Creation

    Almost exclusively, I use free editing tools. My go-to vector creating artwork piece of software is Inkscape. Vector graphics are images that you can scale without them turning into unrecognizable pixelated cubes. Inkscape is the antagonizing opposite rival to its well-known cousin, Adobe Illustrator.

    Raum Furniture Logo

    This was made in Inkscape.

    For raster based images, or those that you create with say, a camera, I use Gimp. Like Inkscape, it is a free piece of software that has an Adobe counterpart: Adobe Photoshop. I have yet, with my limited skills, not seen it to anything that Photoshop can’t do.

    You can find lots of tutorials for using these pieces of software. Consider donating to the cause, especially if you earn revenue from the images you create.

    Lastly, I use Cyberlink Power Director. The basic version came with my laptop, but it looks like it costs about $60 USD. I like it because I can easily load photos from my camera phone, do some basic editing, and export them for web (quality, size, etc.) in about a minute. Maybe this can be done in Gimp, but I don’t know how. My belief is that the Adobe equivalent is called “Lightroom”. I’ll most likely end up purchasing Lightroom when I start doing product photography.

    That sums everything up. Total cost: $110 USD, give or take a few bucks. I expect to spend another hundred or so on credit card processing tools. This may be a low estimate.

    Thanks for reading, I hope you can use this as a baseline to get started on your site!

  • coffee cake book Why We Do It

    Don’t forget the little things. You’ve got a lot to do. I need to polish up my article of incorporation and settle on a shop lease space.

    I need to get an EIN and bank account.

    I need to finish the website and get some actual viewers and followers.

    I need to order a camera and find a bandsaw on eBay.

    This is just a reminder though.

    Don’t forget why you are wanting or have already left your “normal” job.

    Don’t forget the little things.
    coffee cake book

    A book, cake and coffee.

  • Row Gap Removing WordPress Row Gaps

    Row gaps are frustrating

    I spent about two hours this morning trying to remove a little gap between the rows on my front page. Now that the demo content is loaded and I’m sure you’ve started to play around inserting your own photos and text, you’ll likely start to notice changes. Not the gruesome kind occurring during your teenage years but the pesky, drive-your-OCD-crazy kind that won’t go away. Continue Reading

  • tram cables Berlin WordPress Backup and Free Web Stuff

    Two important things today: setting up a WordPress backup plugin and some free web stuff I found from Google. I really can’t think of better topics for a web entrepreneur. Maybe free ice-cream. That’s probably better.

    A backup was on my list

    for a long time. So far, in the behind-the-scenes world, I have configured most of the plugins that I want to have for the site along with completing the general layout and page architecture. The big thing I was lacking, to preserve that hard word, was a backup tool. WordPress.org, if you’ll recall, does not back up anything for you. Supposedly you can backup through your web host, an idea which doesn’t seem smart. Backing up to the same place where the original files are stored seems like a way to ask for trouble. I started looking for answers. Continue Reading

  • notebook, Leitz The Best Notebook

    I bought a notebook at a large bookstore while I was browsing for children’s books written in German.

    Two things have impressed me

    Continue Reading

  • graffiti WordPress Theme Demos

    It’s easy to be disappointed after you purchase, download and install your newly minted WordPress theme. I certainly was. It didn’t look like the photos and the demo sites and I didn’t know why. Some old fashioned Googling was in order.

    Upload the Demo Files

    Sometimes these are called dummy files – probably a title for the entrepreneur trying to make a website that is starting to feel like a money pit. Turns out, it’s pretty easy to upload them and get rocking and rolling. You probably downloaded the demo files in your theme’s .zip file. If not, go to where you got the theme and download the demo files separately. Continue Reading

  • color schemes Color Schemes

    This will seem like

    a pansy pants things to talk about, but great color schemes set the mood for a site. Who are we kidding anyways, as an entrepreneur, you’ve probably already day dreamed about logos and business cards and all of the other sexy things that CEOs worry about. Colors are just as important as the shape of your product and the font of your logo. This  became really clear to me when I finally saw some great ones.

    I don’t know how I got down the rabbit-hole of colors but it was probably from reading blog articles about themes. I had always assumed I would have a nice, simple white background with  maybe a few colors here and there. I knew that I definitely wanted a red font for the main logo. I’m pretty sure I was wrong about all of that when I discovered this post, written by Mary Stribley: Continue Reading

  • Eye, street art WordPress Themes

    The next thing I needed was a theme. From what I understood, themes are a quick and easy way to get a visual “look” for a site. The default is a WordPress blog looking deal that I wasn’t too interested in. If you browse some of these new eCommerce guys, you see some really slick stuff out there that I definitely had to have.

    At the time of this posting you can tell that I’m not quite there yet…

    Theme, Themes, Thames – not always a river in London

    I digress. I launched the site, just now, to get some content out there. It’s not fun writing these posts if exactly zero people are reading them. So, I deleted stuff, moved it around, changed some colors and uploaded some poorly rendered shots of stuff I’m working on. It’s important to note that I didn’t start with this theme. I had this one: Continue Reading

  • London Street WordPress Done the Wrong Way

    I goofed up big time setting up this site the first time. Last week you probably deduced that I went with a WordPress “site”. I didn’t know then, nor am I still sure now, what that means but it’s what I have.

    After some looking around and some serious head scratching I figured out that I needed a few accounts.

    1. A domain name, or, the address of your website;
    2. A platform to build it with (WordPress) and an account to work from;
    3. Somewhere to store the site’s content, an online “host”.

    Like a fool, I had in my head that I wanted a WordPress hosted site, so I opened about 18 browser tabs and did some searching. The first one was, naturally, www.wordpress.com. Big. Mistake. Continue Reading

  • Website Platforms – There is No Holy Grail

    Now that you’ve done your homework we can talk a little about all of those confusing website platforms, hosting companies, editors or what have you. But first, my credentials. I did some brief work over at How to For Engineers and the initial product stuff and some of the back end for the DogHouse Forge, purveyors of fine cutlery.

    Told you they were fine purveyors.

    Now, I claim no expertise and remind you again that you get what you pay for around here. I do claim to have very, very limited experience with Blogger, Squarespace and now, WordPress. Continue Reading