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Colors, Fonts, and Layout: How Do You Get Started with Blog Design?

When people talk about the perfect blog, they always focus on content. The content of a blog is obviously extremely important, and in most cases the content is what decides whether a blog will be successful or flop like a fish out of water. However, the design of a blog is also extremely important. Many bloggers understand the writing aspect of the job, but it’s the blog design that causes frustration. Because creating a blog involves a little bit of web development and web hosting knowledge, so many writers feel a huge weight on their shoulders. Once bloggers have WordPress and other plugins mastered, they sometimes don’t even know where to begin when it comes to design.

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Categories: Blog Design
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My WordPress Install Process

One of the things I get asked most often by people looking to set up their first WordPress site, is how to do it. WordPress has one of the easiest set-up processes you can ask for, but it does take a fair bit of computer knowledge to get through it the first time. You have to interact with a database, edit a configuration file, use an FTP client to upload the software, and then run through its quick online install process, before modifying WordPress to suit your needs.

In this short guide, I am going to walk you through my install process, as I go through the starting steps, to which plugins I use to help my workflow and keep comment spam to a minimum.

I am going to assume a few things in this article, like that you have already downloaded WordPress from WordPress.org, and that you know a little bit on setting up a database and FTP’ing files. If you don’t know how to deal with adding a database to your host, you should check out their Frequently Asked Questions, as I know Dreamhost was a bit odd to me, due to the way they handle databases and their control panel. If you have problems FTP’ing files up onto your account, you will want to contact your web host, or check their Frequently Asked Questions, as they usually have some great tips, tricks and tutorials on how to upload files quickly and easily.

Setting up the Database

All of my web hosting accounts allow me to use cPanel, an easy to use interface that allows you to quickly get to the important control areas of your website. It allows me to easily add a database as well as a user for the database so that WordPress can run properly. The steps you need to take in cPanel is to click on mySQL Databases link, or icon, depending on your host, and then adding a new database, adding a new user, and making sure you add the user to the database, giving the user full permission to add and remove records and whatnot.

Adding a Database

WordPress stores all its information, and your blog posts in the database, and so it has to be able to connect to the database with full permissions.

Editing the Config File
To tell WordPress which database to use, you have to edit a file that comes with WordPress. They give you what is a wp-config-sample.php. You have to rename this to wp-config.php and change a few lines. They have commented the code really nicely, so understanding what to change is relatively easy. You can use pretty much any text editor to change the file, but I use Crimson Editor.

define('DB_NAME', 'dbname'); // The name of the database
define('DB_USER', 'dbusername'); // Your MySQL username
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'dbpassword'); // ...and password
define('DB_HOST', 'localhost'); // 99% chance you won't need to change this value

// You can have multiple installations in one database if you give each a unique prefix
$table_prefix = 'wp_'; // Only numbers, letters, and underscores please!

The things in bold are the ones you can change. For the first three items, you will input the information you used when creating your database. The last item, asks you what you want the tables in the database to be prefixed with. This allows you to install more than one WordPress blog in one database, as you can change the prefix to different things. I always change mine to better identify which blog the tables refer to, though you can keep it as its default.

Uploading WordPress
Next you have to get your blog onto your web host. You need to upload the files to where you want to install WordPress. Most people put it in one of two places, either in the root directory, so it is the first thing people see when they come to your site or in a sub-directory, a folder like “blog”.

For uploading my files, I either use Explorer or WS_FTP LE. I input my details and connect. I then drag and drop all the files and folders and upload them to my hosting account.

Installing WordPress
WordPress Install Page OneOnce all the files are uploaded you only need to browse to where you put WordPress and go to /wp-admin/install.php. So if you installed it in your root directory, you would go to www.somedomain.com/wp-admin/install.php and it would bring you to WordPress’ install page.

You then click on First Step, and it will bring you to a page asking you what you want your blog title to be as well as your current e-mail address. Once you click submit, it will bring you to the last page in the install process where it shows you your temporary password. You will want to write this down so you can log into your WordPress blog. I also recommend changing it as soon as you are logged in, via the Users tab.

Anti-Spam Plugin Akismet
For WordPress 2.0.x and above, Akismet is one of the plugins that comes with the software by default. A plugin is an additional tool or feature that not every user needs, but can expand WordPress far beyond its original intensions. Akismet is a plugin that is one that I think should just be integrated into WordPress’ core, as it is to combat comment spam, and honestly, who doesn’t want to combat comment spam?

To activate it, you only need to go to the plugins page, click enable, and it will say that it can’t enable all the way without an API key. This key is easy to get though. If you sign up for an account at WordPress.com you can get an Akismet API key. Another route you can take is to purchase one from Akismet.com.

Changes I Make
I don’t like the visual rich editor, and so I uncheck that box once WordPress is installed. I also make sure to give a proper tagline to my blog under Options -> General, as none of the blogs I launch, are “just another WordPress blog”. I also check over all of the other options to make sure everything looks right, and then I mess with my Permalinks. I don’t recommend playing with the permalinks unless you have some idea of what you are doing, or atleast know someone that does. While WordPress makes it extremely easy to use, you can still run into problems that while easy to fix, could be very annoying until you find the resource to fix them.

Conclusion
There are many other plugins, themes and whatnot that I won’t talk about here, as that is getting a little advanced for this post, but most of them are as easy to use as Akismet. You just upload them to the correct place, enable them, and change a few small details here or there to make them work correctly on your blog. Once you have installed WordPress more than once, you will find your own workflow being created that allows you to install, add plugins, and customize WordPress for your needs in a timely manner.

For those of you out there that already have a workflow for installing WordPress, I’d love to hear about it, so if you have a blog, post about your install process and link to this post. It should add your post to the trackbacks here. I would be very interested to see how other’s do it, as I have heard some very interesting ways to install, update, and modify WordPress.

Categories: Blogging: How To, WordPress Tips

15 Techniques For Generating Massive Traffic To Your Blog

Putting motor vehicles aside, there is a such a
thing as good traffic and there’s nothing quite like waking up in the morning only to realize that there’s a spike in traffic to your blog from dozens of different sources you never even expected or even knew existed. As exciting as this sounds, achieving this can be quite difficult at times to achieve and eludes the average blogger, especially the newbies.

So, I’ve decided to share some easy traffic generating techniques that are guaranteed to lift you higher up the blogging ladder and bring you that feeling of fulfillment in seeing your blog’s popularity increase. Read More

Categories: Blogging Tips, Blogging: How To
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Blogging Pro Job Board Highlights (Jan 21-25)

Blogging Pro Job BoardHappy Friday once again! How did this week treat you? I hope you’ve all been busy with work, and that you’re looking for to the weekend for some R&R.

Here are the highlights from this week’s Job Board, in case you want/need to apply for another gig or two.

Freelance Game Reviewer, Article Copy Writer

Are you and Android chick/dude? Do you have a strong interest in mobile games on your Android device? You might want to give this gig a go.
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Categories: Jobs
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BloggingPro Job Board Highlights, December 1, 2014

Job board highlightsHow was Thanksgiving weekend? I hope you all went through Black Friday intact and that you’ll have a blast on Cyber Monday.

Here are the job board highlights to help you get more gigs for holiday shopping.

Blogger with UX / Web Design Background

PlaceIt is looking for someone to blog (in English) with a background in web design and/or user experience. You also need to have great writing skills and be able to the research yourself. You should also be able to edit your own work. They will provide the general topic area and you would write within those general constraints.
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Categories: Jobs
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Automate WordPress Database and Files Backup

Regularly backing up your database and files is one of the most important things to do when running a website. One never knows what could happen and the words have become infamous:

I was sure I had a backup.

Most database plugins for WordPress offer the option to weekly backup your database and even email it to you but if you have a popular site, you might want to prefer a more frequent backup routine. Imagine how many posts and comments Gawker would lose if they only kept weekly backups and suffered problems the 6th day after their last backup.

Another problem with all database plugins is that they will not backup your files. With server storage space being really cheap nowadays, you can easily have several backup procedures in place, even if you host many pictures on your blog.

Personally I have three different, totally automated backup routines, using cron jobs:

  1. Daily backup
  2. Weekly backup
  3. Monthly backup

The reason why I also use weekly and monthly backups is because if you have a corrupted database, probably your daily backups will be corrupted and unusable. This can happen on sites you do not use on a daily basis.
Daily backups are overwritten every 7 days, weekly and monthly backups are stored with attached timestamp.

Because most web hosting companies offer cPanel in their package, this tutorial is based on cPanel but the syntax is the same for Plesk and other backends.

What Are Cron Jobs

From Wikipedia:

Cron is driven by a crontab, a configuration file that specifies shell commands to run periodically on a given schedule.

Backing up your database.

In your cPanel (http://yoururl/cpanel) under the header Advanced Tools, you will find a link Cron Jobs. Click this link or click the icon on the right if your cPanel is setup with icons.
On the next page choose Advanced (Unix Style). There is no real difference between both options, the needed attention level is the same and in both simple and advanced you have to fill in the correct command.

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Categories: Backups
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Blogging Pro Job Board Highlights (May 28-June 1)

Blogging Pro Job BoardIt’s the first day of a new month, and it’s a Friday. I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel really good!

Here are the highlights from this week’s Job Board, and here’s to an awesome month and weekend ahead!

Finance (Savings, Money, Banking for Savings) Blogger

This one’s for our friends based in London in the UK. SEOoptimise Limited is looking for bloggers who are well-versed in financial topics. Go for this very interesting opportunity!
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Categories: Jobs
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5 Must-Read Blog Posts About Blogging in 2014

iStock_000025596800_Small

While blogging has paved way for people to live a sustainable lifestyle by earning money from writing about something they truly feel passionate about, there’s more to blogging than simply making money off it. At the core of every blog are posts that share helpful and compelling information to a specific audience.

Therefore, if you want to take a slice out of the blogging pie, it’s time to learn how to correctly approach blogging in order to create great content that will allow you to increase blog traffic and build a readership. From here, everything is possible, including generating revenue from your blog.

If you wish to start with blogging or already have a blog but are still struggling with building substantial traffic, then reading the best must-read blog posts about blogging that were published this year.

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Categories: Blogging Tips
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Why All Students Should Be Encouraged to Blog

Students internet computer addiction sitting bench

With each passing year come more dire warnings from university professors who complain about the fact that their incoming students simply do not know how to express themselves with the written word. One possible reason for this learning gap is that students do not put enough emphasis on writing in the classroom. With the move towards collaborative learning and project-based assessments, students are doing a lot less writing than they were a generation ago.

The answer is not simply to pile on more essay assignments, though. While students do need to write more often, writing serves instructional ends – as well as personal ones – when it is authentic. Blogging is a writing style that lives squarely in the twenty-first century, but it is also a medium that goes back centuries, what with the pamphlets that essayists would spread around town in the first centuries after Gutenberg fashioned that printing press. Because we want our students writing as much as possible, we should encourage them to create a blog so that they can feel a sense of ownership in what they create. There are several reasons why blogging will create stronger writers in the classroom. Read More

Categories: Opinion
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Blog Censorship Gains Support

Most Americans believe bloggers should not be allowed to publish sensitive personal information about individuals, according to a new survey.

Web hosting company Hostway this week released the results of its poll of 2,500 respondents on blogging. Eighty percent of respondents did not believe that bloggers should be allowed to publish home addresses and other personal information about private citizens.

A further 72 percent favored censorship of personal information about celebrities, and 68 percent information about elected or appointed government officials such as judges or mayors.

However, more than one-third of respondents had never heard of blogs before participating in the survey, and only around 30 percent of participants had actually visited a blog themselves.

Categories: Blogging News