business & technology for wedding and lifestyle pros

Gravatars


You may have noticed in the comment sections of each Edit and Post post that some comments have photos and others have the default avatar.

WordPress by default supports photos in the form of Gravatars, or globally recognized avatars.  It takes about 30 seconds to sign up for a Gravatar.  If you are the owner of a WordPress.com blog, or have a WordPress blog installed on your own server and use the Akismet or Jetpack plugins, you can sign into Gravatar with your existing WordPress.com username and password. Otherwise, simply:

  • Click here
  • Input your email address
  • Click on the link in the confirmation email
  • Create a Gravatar username and password
  • Import a photo of yourself and crop it as desired
  • Add as many other email addresses to your account as you like

And voila, the next time you comment here (or on any other WordPress blog with avatars enabled), we will get to put a face to a name.  Yay!

For those of you who have WordPress blogs already (or will be installing them soon after reading the Building Your WordPress Blog post series), include avatars in your comment section by visiting Settings -> Discussion in your WordPress dashboard and checking “Show Avatars”.

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What Makes You You?


We all work or blog in industries that require a unique perspective in order to succeed. We don’t produce commodity products. Instead, we work with clients who want a fresh and informed opinion or idea.

Due to the speed of information movement in today’s society and the low barriers to entry in many industries, competition is increasing at exponential rates.  If you create a product, that product will be copied.  If you have a wonderful blog that enjoys success, it will inspire others to blog and connect in that circle.  If you are a graphic designer, individuals with access to the same tools and technology will use your ideas.  What are you putting out there to make sure people choose you?

What makes you You?

There’s an economic principle called competitive advantage, which says that firms that succeed have some form of advantage over their competition—an ability to add more value, therefore bringing in and retaining more customers (or more readers, if you are blogging).  One of the keys to success in business is to find your competitive advantage early and exploit it.

What is your competitive advantage?

You may have a faster product assembly or access to better materials.  Or perhaps it’s more intangible than that – relationships that you have cultivated or a creative spin on an idea that you’re able to take to market with great speed.

What is your competitive advantage?  How are you exploiting it for your business?  Can it be replicated?

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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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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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Setting Up Your Server


After your domain name has been registered and you’ve chosen a hosting provider, the first thing that you will want to do is create email addresses.  A few addresses you may want to add:

[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

You can choose to manage these email accounts through your hosting company’s email interface or manage the account through your personal internet email address or with Outlook.  I manage my blog email addresses through my personal Gmail account.  If you would like to do the same, visit Settings ? Accounts and Import in Gmail.  Choose ‘Send mail from another address’ and follow the prompts.

Your hosting provider should also give you instructions for setting up your first FTP user (if one was not already set up for you).

What is FTP?

FTP, or file transfer protocol, is the way that you upload and download files from your server.  Your hosting provider will give you access to a web FTP program that is good in a pinch, but to get the full power of FTP I recommend downloading one of the several free FTP programs available.  I personally use Core FTP, which you can download for free here.  In essence, what this program allows you to do is to transfer files back and forth from your computer to your server with one click.

To log in to your FTP program you will need the following information:

  • Host Name – a host name can be either your server name, your website address, or your IP address.  For ease, let’s use your website address.  So, my host name would be editandpost.com
  • Username – this is specified either by your hosting company or by you within your hosting company’s interface.
  • Password – also specified by you or your hosting company during setup.

The port for log in is typically 21 (verify with your hosting provider).  Your connection type is FTP.

Once you’ve logged in to your FTP program you should see a screen that looks a bit like this:

Core FTP Screenshot

Now you’re ready to rock and roll with FTP, you have email, and your server is a blank slate. Next in this series, we’re ready to install WordPress!

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