• WordPress Frustrations

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    Hey folks, I was struggling to come up with a topic when this one landed in my lap: WordPress login frustrations. It’s been over a week since I’ve been able to login to the site and play with any content and my computer seems to have forgotten my login information. Fortunately, there’s a fix.

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  • Bluehost email configuration BlueHost Email Integration

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    This short post will most likely not be relevant or interesting unless you have a BlueHost.com hosted website. As I’ve been promoting the site more and more, typically with blogs and LinkedIn, I need to access my “marshall@raumfurniture.com” email account. For me, that’s most easily done using my existing Gmail account and app. Continue Reading

  • google analytics data SEO and Publish Times

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    I’m no SEO king, but I have noticed a few trends in the meager traffic my website generates. This useful bit of info can be a big help when deciding to publish a blog post or release new content. Continue Reading

  • Vltava River Prague About Us

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    A Page is Born

    I’m pleased to announce that the new ‘About Us’ page is ready for the public. This one was tricky for me for several reasons. I don’t like to talk about myself. This might be evident and make the page be a little weak on content but we’ll find out soon, especially if you leave a comment. The page was also difficult to create because of the pressure and my lack of resources. Luckily, I think it will work for the interim – I really only want to add a short promo video of me talking a bit for about a minute so that you can get to know me, and not just the business.

    About Us

    This page is often touted as one of a website’s highest viewed pages. With that in mind, you want it to be great, not just good. I searched for the best pages and came up with a common theme: tell a story and have some great graphics. Fortunately I had some not-so-old photos taken by a great friend that symbolize what we do – build furniture. For reference, he used a Nikon full frame DSLR and did some editing. I’ll post his website up when he gets it built later this year. With all of that riding on a single page, I was beginning to feel the pressure.

    Content

    I wanted to have a mission statement and also convey some sort of our ideals and why we think our furniture store is a great idea. I’m not knocking on the big name, 600 pound gorilla, Ikea. In fact, I love their stuff, I have three bar stools in my own home. I just tend to think that affordable furniture doesn’t have to be so cheap feeling or that quality furniture doesn’t have to be made by a bearded lumberjack using a hacksaw and a blunt rock that costs you $5,000.

    Don’t be fooled, I’ve got one expensive piece in the queue. I just can’t get the price down because the design is so rad and the laser cutter wants a ton of money for it. I’m sorry in advance. You’ll know what I’m talking about soon enough.

    Contact

    I’m also still undecided if I should add a “Contact Us” section or just put it at the bottom of every page. I don’t feel that an entire page is needed just for an email address and a phone number. I don’t have a physical store, so no map is needed. In writing this, I think I’ve already decided not to make a dedicated page. No need for the extra clutter.

    Speaking of clutter, I think having the color palette already put together has made designing the pages that much faster while reducing clutter.

    Lastly, enjoy this photo taken from the banks of the Vltava River in Prague. Can’t think of a better way to put some thoughts together to finish an About Us page.

    Vltava River Prague

  • Stone wall WordPress Website Tools

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    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!

  • tram cables Berlin WordPress Backup and Free Web Stuff

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    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

  • Website Platforms – There is No Holy Grail

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    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

  • planning session Planning Session – Put Your Ducks in a Row

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    Today is all about planning the website. It’s also about progress, but planning is the theme.

    I bit the bullet and went ahead a bought a theme today. It’s pretty neat so far, and fortunately I had zero content to worry about mucking up by changing over. I realized that the snazzy Shapely Theme by Colorlib was exactly what it said it was: a one page WordPress theme. I spent a few hours trying to teach myself some “CSS” (Cascading Style Sheets) so that I could change the font color and weird purple buttons to a more manly gray.

    I was stalling.

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  • Tools on workbench Not in Order – but it’s a start

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    Things aren’t quite going to be in logical order for you, my dear readers. Normally (I think) you don’t make the website first when you start a business. Maybe you do for an eCommerce site, but how would I know? The site is what I’m working on now so the site is what I’ll talk about. However, to catch you up, this is kind of the ‘plan’ I’m following to get things rolling.

    Feasibility study

    This involved a few steps. I wasn’t dreaming up this idea and working on it all while I had a job. I left my job and then had to figure out what I wanted to do. I had no products lined up on paper, no Etsy site selling out of my garage. Nothing. I had to design some products, determine a sell price, figure out my costs and all that. More on this later as it’s pretty important. If you want a jumpstart, check out the book I’m using over at Amazon. I’m not making any money by recommending this book to you. Continue Reading