business & technology for wedding and lifestyle pros

Welcome to Edit and Post


I’m beyond excited to unveil Edit and Post to you.  My name is Ami and I’m so glad you’re here! Many of you may know me through my wedding blogsite Elizabeth Anne Designs or via my travel site Entouriste.  Through Edit and Post, I will be sharing the blogging knowledge that I have gathered over the last eight years of writing and managing Elizabeth Anne Designs and Entouriste as well as general business suggestions and tips. Welcome!

Edit and Post

Let’s get to know each other!

A little bit about my background…

Founded in October 2007, Elizabeth Anne Designs welcomes thousands of visitors daily and is one of the leading wedding blogs in the industry.  In 2013, I founded Entouriste, a community-based site featuring the travels of the world’s best photographers. Each of my projects are WordPress-based blogsites, for which I do all of the design and coding in addition to editing and publishing each post.

While I may chat about weddings and travel each day, my education and experience is in finance and accounting.  After graduating from Converse College with Bachelor’s degrees in both Accounting and Finance, the husband and I made our way to the wonderful city of Chicago.  I attended DePaul University and received an Master of Science in Finance, and rounded out my education with a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago, where I concentrated my studies in Strategic Management and Organizational Behavior.

I’ve worked in the accounting and finance field for over 13 years, always in mid-size, high-growth environments where I can truly get my hands dirty.  I love to get into the details and understand all of the complexities and intricacies of a business.  I want to know what makes them tick—where their strengths and weaknesses lie, how they handle their human capital, where efficiencies can be gained, where investment is needed, and where technology can improve their business model.

We are all CEOs

We are all doing what we love—be it planning weddings, blogging about our home renovations, trying out new recipes, or crafting with glitter (who doesn’t love glitter?).  But the moment we earned our first dollar from Google Adsense or bought our first set of supplies for making jewelry, we instantly became CEOs.  For some, that’s a scary prospect.  We just wanted to make pretty things!  We’re going to delve into the issues faced by small businesses, from accounting to social media strategy, and along the way, we’ll learn from each other and become smarter business owners.

Knowledge is power

Edit and Post will get quite technical at times, but along the way I’m going to try my best to give clear and concise instructions for those of you looking to code aspects of your site.  And even if you are never going to code one line of your site on your own, knowledge is power!  Familiarizing yourself with how WordPress works will allow you to intelligently talk with your developer and better assess how your money is being spent.  Learning a bit about built-in functionality will allow you to decide whether you are spending your time efficiently.  So if you don’t know a z-index from an index.html or CSS from RSS, you’re in the right place.

My goal is for Edit and Post to be a forum for discussion so please comment or contact me with any specific questions you may have or topics you would like to see on Edit and Post.

I’m looking forward to getting to know each of you—thanks for coming along for the ride!

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What Is WordPress Anyway?


Although there are several blogging platforms available to you, we’re mainly going to discuss the technology and coding behind just one of them here on Edit and Post, and that is WordPress. WordPress is currently the most flexible and powerful option out there and it’s the platform I use for Edit and Post, Entouriste and Elizabeth Anne Designs.

What is WordPress

What is WordPress, anyway?

WordPress is an open-source content management system.  Open-source means that the code for the software is freely provided and can be altered and built upon by anyone.  Why is this cool? Because that means there are thousands upon thousands of people working every day to enhance WordPress functionality by creating themes and plugins to be used with the basic code (we’ll chat more about themes and plugins soon!).

WordPress requires a MySQL database to run, along with a web server.  Your WordPress database is made up of several tables.  Each table holds a specific element of data, such as your posts, comments, and settings.  Your web server holds your image files, theme files, plugins, and WordPress admin files.  You can think about things this way: if you upload it, it goes on your web server.  If you write it or input it, it goes into your database.

How do the web server and database talk?

They use a language called PHP.  Every time WordPress needs to “get” something from the database, a PHP script is run.  There are several default PHP functions in WordPress, and you can also create your own.

PHP = “get”
Want to get the post title? <?php the_title(); ?>
Want to get the content? <?php the_content(); ?>
Want to get the author? <?php the_author(); ?>

Depending on the data you are gathering, the WordPress PHP function may default to “get and display” or simply “get”.  Both are useful!  We’ll talk about PHP a lot more in the future, but for now, just remember that PHP is how WordPress gets data from the database.

How does the PHP function turn into results?

After the web server has received data from the database, it turns it into HTML.  HTML is the language that your browser uses to display a website.  An example:

In WordPress, I have a PHP function that says: <?php the_title(); ?>

Once my web server has processed that script for the post you’re currently reading, the database will return: What Is WordPress Anyway?

The web server then displays to you: What Is WordPress Anyway?

You never see the PHP script and neither does Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE or whatever other browser you are using!

How do I style those results?

You make HTML look pretty using a language called CSS, which stands for cascading style sheets.

CSS tells your browser how to format things (fonts, colors, margins, spacing, etc).  CSS is very flexible, and you can style different elements of your page with different CSS markup.

Where do I put my PHP and CSS code?

Your PHP and CSS code goes inside your WordPress theme.  Simply put, your theme is how you want your WordPress data displayed to the world.  Several themes are installed with WordPress, and customizing your own theme is something that we’ll talk about in detail.

In the upcoming series of posts, we’re going to cover server needs, hosting basics, and the installation and basic configuration of WordPress.

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Installing WordPress


For the vast majority of you, installing WordPress will be an incredibly simple exercise.  Most hosting companies offer a one-click install package, such as Fantastico or Softaculus.  So mosey on along to your hosting provider’s interface and tell it to install WordPress already!  If your hosting provider does not have a one-click install, you will need to download the latest WordPress package and follow these instructions for installation.

How to Install WordPress

As you might remember from this post, WordPress needs a MySQL database to run.  You will need to define a database name for your MySQL database, a table prefix (usually wp_), a URL to install WordPress to, and a MySQL database username and password that WordPress will use to connect. A one-click installer may select the database username and password for you, so don’t worry if this isn’t one of the options available.  You may also get the option of selecting an admin username and password.  If so, take advantage, as “admin” is the most common username tried by hackers.

So, for example, if you are want people to visit your blog at www.mycookingsite.com/blog you might choose:

Database name = mycookingblog
Database prefix = wp_
URL to install WordPress = www.mycookingsite.com/blog
DB username (if asked) = your FTP username
DB password (if asked) = 0987fed654cba321
Admin Username (if given the option to select one) = johndoe
Admin Password (if given the option to select one) = 123abc456def7890

Take careful note of your username and password.  I recommend choosing a 16-character randomly generated password (something more secure than the one above, obviously!).  The database username and password are stored in a WordPress file called wp-config.php that will be automatically created for you by your installer.  Any time you change your password (which you should do relatively often, for security purposes), you will want to update wp-config.php.

If you are using a one-click installer, you will receive an email from your hosting provider once WordPress is successfully installed on your server.  Go ahead and go to WordPress and log in.

The login location for My Cooking Site would be: www.mycookingsite.com/blog/wp-admin

Username = admin OR your johndoe
Password = given in your installation email OR 123abc456def7890

Welcome to WordPress!

There are a few things that you will want to do immediately.

Delete the “admin” user. If your installer did not give you the option of selecting a custom admin user, you’ll want to:

  1. Navigate to Users » Add User.  Create a new user for yourself.  Make sure that author name is the one that you want to be visible inside WordPress.  Give that new user the role of Administrator.  Make sure that you choose a password that is secure and different from your database password.  Again, I recommend a 16-character randomly generated password.
  2. Log out of admin and in with your new username.
  3. Navigate to Users » Add User.  Delete the admin user.  Hackers target blogs that are easy to get into, and the first username that they will try is ‘admin’.  Make yourself less susceptible by deleting the user.

Adjust your basic settings.

  1. Navigate to Settings » General.  Update all of the fields.  Be sure that the “Anyone can register” box is unchecked.
  2. Navigate to Settings » Reading.  Select the box that says: “Discourage search engines from indexing this site”.  We’ll uncheck this box once your blog is styled and ready for the world to see!
  3. Navigate to Settings » Permalinks.  Choose either “Post Name”, “Day and Name” or “Month and Name”.  Leaving the default is bad for SEO (search engine optimization purposes).  A post URL of www.mycookingsite.com/blog/?p=123 means nothing to Google; a post URL of www.mycookingsite.com/blog/2010/01/brownie-recipe is much more descriptive!

Remove WordPress default content.

  1. Navigate to Comments and delete the initial comment that WordPress creates.
  2. Navigate to Posts and delete the “Hello world!” post.
  3. Navigate to Pages and delete “Sample Page”.
  4. Navigate to Plugins and delete the “Hello Dolly” plugin (unless you really love the song Hello Dolly!).

Voila – you have WordPress!  The next post in this series will be all about plugins!

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Back Up Your WordPress site with VaultPress


Now that we have installed WordPress and learned how to install plugins, we’re going to cover a few of the plugins that I consider absolute necessities for your blog, and nothing is more integral to your blog than protecting your content.

Back Up Your Blog With VaultPress

As we talked about in the What Is WordPress Anyway? post, WordPress requires both a web server and a database to run.  The web server holds your uploaded images and files, and the database holds your posts, comments, links, etc. Backing up your WordPress website or blog can be done multiple ways, but who wants to do it manually? Let’s face it, we’d all rather do it the easy way, and by far the easiest is using VaultPress, the backup and security suite from the creators of WordPress.

Installing and Configuring VaultPress

You must first sign up for a subscription with your WordPress.com login. The most inexpensive subscription is $5/month (or $55/year). After you have selected your subscription, activation is as simple as installing the VaultPress plugin (don’t know how to install plugins? Learn right here.) and inputting your registration key in your WordPress dashboard. After you register, you can return to the VaultPress dashboard and watch your backup go, while you’re doing your nails (or something equally constructive!). It may take a bit longer for your first backup to run than for your polish to dry, but once it has finished, incremental backups will be faster, and you won’t need to lift a (manicured) finger!

Other Features of VaultPress

In addition to maintaining a daily or real-time backup of your database (depending upon which plan you selected), VaultPress can also do one-click restores. This is useful to create or restore a test site, or in the awful event that your site was compromised or hacked. You can restore a backup from a 30-day archive in the Lite plan, or a full backup archive for the life of your VaultPress subscription in the Basic plans and higher. You’ll want to add your FTP or SSH credentials to your site settings in VaultPress, so it can work its restore magic. If you don’t know these details, ask your hosting company—you may not have SSH access (also known as “root” access), but you will surely be able to FTP (need a refresher on FTP?).

VaultPress is also integrated with Akismet, a spam prevention plugin, and offers subscription plans that include Akismet Business, as well as security scanning. All in, it’s some of the best money you’ll spend—because you can’t put a price on peace of mind!

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Using Images In Blog Posts


Some of the most common questions people encounter as they begin blogging revolve around images: how to credit them, what the copyright regulations are, and general, proper blog image etiquette.

Using Images in Blog Posts

Images and the Fair Use Doctrine

First up, the legalities: images are copyright to the photographer. Unless you are the photographer, you have received permission from the photographer, or they have licensed their work for creative commons, you are using any images you post under the US government’s doctrine of “fair use”.

You should read this short page for the complete information about fair use but to paraphrase, there are four factors at play:

  1. The purpose and character of the use (commercial? non-profit?)
  2. The nature of the work itself
  3. The amount used of the work as a whole
  4. The effect of your use upon the market value of the work
Blogging Etiquette

As you can see on the copyright office’s page, the entire fair use area is gray. Here are a few things that are absolutes:

  • Getting approval from the owner means you are in the clear to use the image.
  • A creative commons license (which many bloggers who take their own photos provide in the terms and conditions of their site) means you are clear to use the image.
  • If the owner of an image asks you to take it down, take it down.  Period.
  • You should ALWAYS credit the owner/photographer.  Even if you have permission.  Even if it’s creative commons.  Unless it’s your image, or a stock image that does not require crediting (aka “attribution”), this rule should be followed 100% of the time. For example, the image above is a no attribution required stock image.
  • Pinterest is never the source of an image.  I repeat – your image credit should never be to Pinterest.  There is a photographer/blogger behind that pin who brought the amazing content to light.
Tips for Bloggers

If you are a blogger yourself, it is a great idea to have a policies or terms page on your site, telling your readers whether or not they are free to use the photos (and content) that you have posted and in what manner.

When you post images that you do not own, I think it bears repeating that you should always credit the photographer.  If you found the image on a blog other than the photographer’s, you should also credit the source of the information and any sources that they have named. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice and give credit where credit is due!

Bloggers and photographers, do you have tips to share on image etiquette or guidelines for usage?

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