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Mary Biever | One Writing Mother | Tag Archive | WordPress
Tag Archive - WordPress

Learn to Drive WordPress First

Driving Lessons - Part 1photo © 2010 Tim Dawson | more info (via: Wylio)
Most of us who drive a car will never build one. Our adventure begins when we start the car and go. Those who do build cars have experience driving them first. Their driving experiences make them better designers and engineers.

Those who want to use WordPress to blog or build their website should do the same. Get help designing and building your site or blog and then learn how to drive it. We don’t require teens to build their own car before they begin to drive, and I don’t think we should require WordPress users to build their own blog before they begin blogging. If they do, they run the risk of focusing more on structure than content.

It doesn’t matter how great the structure of your car is if you crash it as soon as you get on the highway. Ditto for blogs – a perfectly designed blog with garbage content might as well be totalled and towed.

Just as the car owner can eventually learn to tinker – to change the oil, change the tire, or swap out the windshield wipers, a blogger learns with time how to tweak WordPress. The more you know, the more flexibility you will have.

WordPress users should learn basic concepts, like the difference between a page and a post first. Then they should learn how to update a post, schedule it, and insert a photo or video. As they learn those basics, those who are adventurous will begin to explore the dashboard.

The more the driver explores, the more he or she will realize WordPress is the ultimate website Transformer. Depending on the theme and plugins you set, you can have a Bumblebee blog or an Optimus Prime content management system, or website. The beauty of using WordPress for your company’s website is once you learn to drive WordPress, you can quickly update your calendar, news updates, and more, without waiting for an overworked web designer to fit it into the schedule.

Some of us learn to drive and rarely venture beyond the corner grocery store. Others rev their engines and race around the world in 80 days. WordPress lets us do the same, except now we can zoom around the planet in less than 80 seconds, by way of the web.

Getting your own wheels is more than exciting.

Why don’t you learn to drive in WordPress, grab a blog, and give it a spin?

My Favorite Software Freebies

We have an abundance of free software options that can help us make better use of our PC’s and Mac’s. Several of them are based in the “cloud” which means our information stays static while we are portable – we can access it wherever we have Internet access.  My favorites can make your digital life easier, save you money, save you headaches, and save you time. Several have upgrades. So you can try the service and if you like it and want more bells and whistles, upgrade to a per pay version.

Here are my current favorite freebies:

  • CaringBridge - If you have a critically ill family member, CaringBridge will help you quickly update and connect loved ones. You can post photos, updates, and friends and contact you. I love this for prayer requests, especially during surgeries and after.
  • Dropbox - One day, programs like Dropbox will replace flash drives. I can save my files on my hard drive and in Dropbox. The shared folders help me work on group projects with others.
  • Googledocs – If you need a simple word processor, spreadsheet, or presentation, Googledocs will let you create them and if needed share them.
  • Gmail calendar and contacts – I love syncing my Outlook calendar and contacts on Gmail. This provides a backup and makes mobile networking easier.
  • Hootsuite - The free version still works well for an individual. I can quickly access my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts to scan social media. I love using Twitter lists with targeted criteria with Hootsuite – it helps me make the most of my Twitter time.
  • Mailchimp - you can manage your email campaigns for up to 1,000 names free of charge. Email is not dead. It’s just changing and needs to be directly targeted for good business results. You can use  this to offer free ebooks and downloads to prospects and collect their emails.
  • MealTrain - if you have a friend of loved one facing critical illness or crisis, MealTrain will help you organize the dropping off of meals – who has which night, what’s for dinner, food allergies, and more.
  • NutshellMail – If you need a quick route to keep updated with your adds on Facebook and Twitter, check out NutshellMail. You can have a single email sent to you daily (or more often) with comments not only for you personally but your business.
  • RockMelt – an awesome social media browser that lets you use Google, Facebook, and Twitter, and coordinate your chats.
  • TurboTax - if you have a simple 1040EZ form, it’s free online. For more complex forms, you can try it for free and if you like the results, then pay for the software.
  • WordPress - you can start a personal blog free of charge. WordPress will host it. If you have a business, I strongly recommend self-hosting.
  • Wylio - if you have a blog and need graphic images for your posts, check this out. After you input search criteria, Wylio shows possible images. If you see one you like, you can set where and what size you want the graphic to go, and Wylio generates the code which you can then put into your blog or website. They have great photos, and their search feature is fantastic.

The challenge with any software is learning to use it quickly. If you don’t have enough time to learn new software and still meet your deadlines, give me a call. If you hate learning new software because it’s just one more thing to add to your stressful life, I can help with that too – with steps and an action plan to make your software work for you instead of against you!

Let’s make 2011 the year our software is a tool, instead of a headache!

Whole Hog Biz Errors

“I’m going to have a bachelor party and want it to be a hog roast,” the caller on the radio show began.

“We’re trying to locate a pig and drive 5 hours with it so we can roast it while we spend a weekend in a cabin. Any suggestions?” He continued.

The radio host encouraged him to hire outside help because of potential pitfalls with his plan. I agree.

Our county’s 4-H leaders volunteer to carve a hog at a roast each year after it is auctioned off to benefit our 4-H Center. A local farmer donates the hog, a local barbecue restaurant roasts the hog, a food supplier donates the side dishes, a DJ donates his services, and we carve Porky.

I’ve helped with the carving of 2 hogs. The second time I did it, I was going to have to be in charge, so I recruited a friend of mine, a retired meat inspector, to help. We carved the hog in time to tunes like “Stayin Alive” and “Another One Bites the Dust.”

Even though I have carved a couple of hogs, hold a Serv-safe food safety certification, and have helped cater dinners of up to 400 people for 4-H fundraisers, there is no way I would ever consider roasting a hog. I do what I know best and rely on other experts in other fields to do the same.

This applies to many small business owners, especially in an Internet age.  We don’t have to roast the whole hog but can rely on experts to do the parts we’re not comfortable doing. That could include hiring:

  1. An accountant to check Quickbook account setups.
  2. A blog designer to design our WordPress website and then train us so we can write timely updates.
  3. An SEO expert to ensure our website wins search.
  4. Marketers who use varied media well so we can integrate our marketing strategy with video and social media components.
  5. A social media expert to help us set up our presence in social media and train us to do timely updates with an integrated marketing strategy.
  6. Graphic designers and artists to create great graphics for our landing pages and other electronic promotions.
  7. Video pros to help us create fantastic, short videos.

If you need help finding an expert in any of the above areas, let me know. If I can’t help, I know pros who can.

Hiring professionals is an investment well worth making.

Crouching Mama Hidden Ninja

Desktop background created by Mystfren Designs

When Michael Reynolds tossed a Ninja to me at an Inbox Zero workshop last fall, he didn’t know what would happen. That Ninja, trained in the art of email management, is talented with WordPress too. With a new year and new website, I discovered his talent.

The last 2 weeks, I’ve worked to migrate my blog from WordPress.com to self-hosting. The software differences remind me of moving from DOS to Windows or from Lotus to Excel. Many concepts are the same, but the setup is different enough to give me a headache and heartburn. 

With WordPress help and encouragement from Talina Norris-Ryder and Nibby Priest (thank you both!), I’ve made it to the other side of the WordPress aisle.  Many years ago, my husband Richard bought my domain name, saying I would one day want and use it.  In the last two weeks, he’s patiently created, re-created, and tweaked the graphics for the new site.

Learning the new software was harder than I thought it would be. And it was more stressful. For a lifetime, I’ve helped family and friends go after their brass rings. Ten years ago, Richard and I started the Copper Lion, Inc., so he could provide digital graphics to ad agencies.

What I didn’t realize till halfway through the new site is this time, it’s MY behind on the line.  It’s not only my behind, but my name. When I couldn’t find a fast answer to my question, I would jump, yell, and be ready to quit. Then I would see the Ninja on my desk and remember Harrison Painter‘s latest blog on Coffee with Harrison.

As I wrestled with WordPress, I looked at my ninja and repeated Harrison’s advice: knock’em over! Once I remembered that, I became Crouching Mama Hidden Ninja, ready to conquer an army of widgets and subdue Attila the Plugin’s legions.

Victory! If I couldn’t find the answer, I could find someone or some website to help. With time, help, and hard work, the site came together.

Just like any action story, you know the widgets and plugins will be back with future challenges. My Ninja and I are in training, making ourselves stronger so we can handle whatever they try next.

That’s my Ninja story, and I’m sticking to it.

When you hit the wall, what’s your Ninja and what keeps YOU going?

Social Media Savvy = the New Survival Skill

“Kids have to have the skills for this century,” I told a mother about social media.

“Yes, I know. That’s why my kids study robotics,” was her answer.

Robotics has as much to do with social media as an electric weedeater does with cars. Operating one has nothing whatsoever to do with the other.

Sometimes parents tell me that letting their kids use social media is a privilege.  I’ll add to that: it’s a parent’s responsibility to ensure their teens know how to use social media. 

Not just to post

  • “I’m booooorreeed. Text me at xxxxx.” on FB. 
  • photos of girls gone wild on spring break on Myspace
  • videos of boys busting out all over on Youtube
  • status lines like “I hate my job cause my boss is stupid and our customers are a royal pain.”
  • joining groups celebrating flatulence with four letter words.

Parents must encourage their kids to add content and value to the social media conversation.  Teach by example is the best way.

This is a survival skill. Watch Socialnomics on Youtube.  Already more people search Facebook for info than Google.  Employers evaluate social media in their hiring decisions. Scholarship committees background check before giving money.

As parents, we pay for SAT/ACT prep classes.  We seek tutors, drive kids to sports, and work to help them get ready for college. Shouldn’t we also help them develop social media skills to distinguish themselves from the pack?

Legally, teens can begin to use most media outlets at age 13. Don’t start them early; not everything on social media is G rated. Do start them as a younger teen so you can observe their use of social media and they can learn to handle tough situations. This is like driving lessons – you want to coach your kids through their first experience driving on ice to help them learn to handle the slick spots.

Basic ways teens can use social media well and benchmarks they need:

  • Post information on Facebook. Know how to discern friends and how to post appropriately.
  • Discern who to add as friends and who to refuse. Understand privacy settings and how to adjust them.
  • Upload photos and videos directly to Facebook and have the wisdom to know the difference between a photo to post and 1 to delete.
  • Upload a video to Youtube by age 16.
  • Create and maintain a written blog by age 17. I use WordPress. Let your kids write their blog on their passion. When they write about what excites them, it will develop their knowledge base, their interest, and their writing skills.
  • Search Twitter by age 17 and set up a  Twitter account by age 18. (Under 18 Twitter account could be under a pseudonym with a non-face photo for security purposes.)
  • Use Twitter well by age 18 – to engage in conversations and real time chats. College textbooks are often dated as soon as they are printed. Twitter is the fastest way to keep up with tech changes and opportunities in every field and to meet the industry thought leaders.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile before leaving for college and begin to collect references and network contacts.
  • Know how to audit their social media footprint and make sure they are branding themselves well.

Bad things can happen when teens drive cars. So we teach them to drive well & pray they stay safe.

Ditto for social media.