business & technology for wedding and lifestyle pros

The Midas Whale


Several seasons ago, there was a duo on the Voice by the name of Midas Whale. Legend has it, one member of the duo asked the other if he wanted to form a band, and he replied “Might as well”, and thus the name was born. From then on, in the office, each decision we made because we “might as well” was referred to as a Midas Whale.

The Midas Whale

Photo: © Dreams by the Sea / Etsy

Over time, I’ve come to the realization that though he may originally appear cute and harmless, the Midas Whale is a dangerous predator. It’s so easy to follow the Midas Whale that the best alternative may be left by the wayside.

Perhaps:

  • You’re going down the path of least resistance.
  • You might not truly want to take the route, but you can’t think of a reason not to.
  • Your first choice wasn’t available, so this is the next best thing.
  • Other people are doing it, so you think you should as well.

Before following the Midas Whale, ask yourself:

  • Is there another course of action with a higher potential upside?
  • Am I doing this because it’s easy, or because it’s best?
  • What do my instincts say about the choice?
  • Am I swimming with the current (pardon the pun) or simply being carried along?

Have you followed a Midas Whale? How did you feel about your decision?

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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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Debits and Credits


As small business owners, even if you aren’t going to handle your own accounting, it’s important to understand the basics of your finances so that you can determine how your business is performing.  Let’s start with some accounting language and terminology.

Accounting Basics Debits and Credits

Photo: © kazoka / Shutterstock

Your accounting records are kept in what is called the general ledger. The general ledger is made up of several ledger accounts (also known as accounts or G/L accounts).  Each ledger account is populated by journal entries.  Each journal entry must balance to zero.

A journal entry is created for every transaction in your business, and each account is either debited (abbr: DR) or credited (abbr: CR).

Each ledger account is classified into one of five account types: Assets, Liabilities, Equities, Revenues, or Expenses.  These account types all have natural balances that are debits or credits. The total of all of your G/L accounts must balance to zero.

The natural balances of each account type are:

Assets: Debit
Liabilities: Credit
Equities: Credit
Revenues: Credit
Expenses: Debit

Debits are not Additions and Credits are not Subtractions

Don’t think of debits and credits as additions and subtractions.  Simply think of debits and credits as increases and decreases to the natural balance of an account.

A debit will always be a positive number.  A credit will always be a negative number.  Negative numbers are generally presented in parentheses.  The total of the debits and credits in a journal entry will always balance to zero.  This insures that you have recorded all aspects of the transaction appropriately.

Confused yet?  Let’s do some examples from our everyday lives.

Example 1: Buying groceries

You go to Whole Foods and spend entirely too much money on baked goods (oh wait, is that just me?).  You pay cash.

Debit Groceries Expense 100
Credit Cash (100)

Grocery expenses are increasing, because a debit increases the natural balance of an expense account, and cash is decreasing, because a credit decreases the natural balance of an asset account.

Example 2: Financing a home

You find your dream home and go to the bank for a loan. The home costs $150,000 and you pay a $20,000 cash down payment.

Debit Real Estate 150,000
Credit Payable to Bank (130,000)
Credit Cash (20,000)

You are increasing an asset, your real estate account, by $150,000. But you now have a liability to the bank for $130,000 (remember, credits increase liabilities) and your cash balance decreased by $20,000.

Example 3: A customer pays you for an order

You sold someone a book for $20, they paid with cash.

Debit Cash 20
Credit Revenue (20)

Assets, with a natural debit balance, and revenues, with a natural credit balance, are both increasing in this transaction.

So what do you think—are debits and credits starting to make sense? Next up in this series, we’re going to chat about financial statements (excited yet?).

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Images In Blog Posts: The Technical Side


We’ve talked about the legalities and etiquette of images in your blog posts.  Today, let’s chat about some of the tech tips for blog images.

Tech Tips for Images in Blog Posts

Size matters

High resolution images are a no-no.  Not only will it kill the speed of your site to host high resolution images, but it’s also bad blogging etiquette. Use WordPress’s built-in Media resizing functionality to help you out with resizing.  Under Settings -> Media you can supply a thumbnail size, a medium size (I use this for vertical images) and a large size (horizontal).  As you upload photos, WordPress will automatically create copies of the image resized to each of your specified dimensions.

Because most people are viewing your site on a widescreen monitor, portrait/vertical photos should be sized to about half of the width of landscape/horizontal photos.  This will help to keep the file sizes smaller, as well as keep each image within the viewable area of everyone’s screen.  For aesthetic reasons, this is why many blogs choose to “pair up” verticals in their posts.

What’s in a name?

A lot actually.  Search engines can’t “see” images, they simply recognize the caption (aka alt text), title, and image name and read those to index the image.  Name your images something descriptive and WordPress will automatically fill in the alt text with your image name.

When deciding on a file name, put yourself in the shoes of the searcher. “Juli and Jon Wedding.jpg” likely won’t produce any search hits. But “Yellow Sunflower Bouquet.jpg” might. Your alt text will also become your default Pinterest text when a reader pins an image from your site, so choose wisely!

A helpful hint

Using a Content Delivery Network (“CDN”) helps to speed up the delivery of images. A CDN makes copies of your images (along with stylesheets, javascript files, and the like) and places them on their servers worldwide. This way, your visitors are served up a file from the location closest to them. Cloudflare is a great choice for starting out with a CDN, as they have a free plan. WordPress’ Jetpack plugin also includes the option to use their Photon service.

In future posts, we’ll cover more advanced WordPress image issues, such as custom fields for image photography credits, media tagging, and the like. What other image tips and tricks do you have to share?

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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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