I Want To See Your Smiling Face

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.

Well, as much as I love the cute little red pen, I want to see you!

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.

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!

PS – 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 WordPress Stats plugins, you can sign into Gravatar with your existing WordPress.com username and password, which makes the process even simpler.

PPS – For those of you who have WordPress blogs already (or will be installing them soon after reading the Building Your WordPress Blog post series), I will be doing a post on styling comments to include avatars in a few weeks.

What The Bachelor Teaches Us About Business

Let’s face it, a lot of us are fans of horrible reality TV, including The Bachelor.  But we if dive in a little closer, we can see that we can actually learn something from Jake’s journey…

Lesson 1: Not everyone is your soul mate

As the Bachelor, Jake had 25 amazing women to choose from. Of course, his connection was stronger with some than with others.


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So how does this translate?

Not every client is your client.
Not every potential sponsor is right for you.
Not every guest blogger fits your aesthetic.
Not every blog/website/magazine/etc is a good fit for your advertising needs.

It took me a long time to come to terms with this. It’s hard to feel comfortable with saying no! But in the long run, it’s in your best interest to know your business or your blog well enough to make an informed decision about who you should work with and where best to spend your time and money.

Lesson 2: The popular choice isn’t always the right choice

Polls showed that most viewers wanted Jake to choose Tenley. But he followed his heart instead and proposed to Vienna.


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There will inevitably be a time where you have to choose a path for your business. Perhaps it’s a price increase, a geographic move, or a new product you want to introduce. Your decisions won’t always be popular among the masses, and that’s OK. If you have evaluated and determined your course of action – stick to your gut and believe in yourself, because what’s right in everyone else’s eyes isn’t always the right choice for you.

Lesson 3: Sometimes you just have to let go

Ali found this out the hard way when she had to make the decision whether to stay with Jake or go back to her job.


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One of the most difficult problems faced in business is when to let go – of an idea, of an employee, of a product line, etc. There is no “right” answer, it’s of course different in each situation, but the key is learning to recognize when it’s time to cut the cord, and when you make the decision, confront the problem directly, make an action plan, and follow through.

Lesson 4: First impressions are important

On episode 1 of this season’s Bachelor, the all-important initial first-impression rose went to Tenley, who as we know, was one of the final two ladies.


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We all know the old saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”. It’s cliche, but it’s true. Most first impressions are now made online, when someone is researching service providers or reading past reviews of products. Potential customers or clients may find your Twitter feed, personal blog, Facebook page, and of course your website.

How do you present yourself online?
How does your website/blog reflect on your business?
Is the branding consistent with your intended message?
Is what they see representative of what they get?

Of course, there are many other life lessons we can learn from The Bachelor, most of which are quite obvious to non-reality-TV contestants. :) What did you learn from this season of The Bachelor?

Servers and The Basics of Hosting

Now that you’ve taken the preliminary steps of designing your blog, it’s time for technology to take over.  Because you are going to create a WordPress blog,* the first thing that you will need is hosting.  If you have a website for your business already, you likely already have a web hosting provider and either space on a server or your own server. If you are setting things up for the first time, you will contract with your chosen web hosting provider who will allot you website space on a server and set you up with a FTP (file transfer protocol – this is the way you upload and download files from your server) account.

What are the types of hosting and which type is right for me?’

Basics: A server is essentially a large computer that is held in a hosting provider’s data center. Your hosting plan determines how much of the server your account “owns”. There are three main types of hosting services: shared server, virtual private server, and private server.

Shared Server: The most economical option.  Your website is hosted on a server along with multiple other websites.  The hosting provider that you choose will set limits for your account so that you do not overload the server and cause the rest of your server’s websites to go down.  This option is great for those of you just getting started, as the memory and bandwidth that you will be provided is likely sufficient for your needs.  However, if you expect several thousand visitors per day (at peak times), you may experience slowness with shared server hosting and your web host even has the ability to take your site down to steady the server.

Best for: Just getting started; Non-complex sites; Static websites (non-blogs); Sites without a rush of traffic at peak times

Virtual Private Server: Picture a server as a packing box for glassware.  You get the space for one glass and share the box with multiple other glasses.


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The server is partitioned off so that you have full control over only your piece.  No other website can touch your area of the server, and vice versa.  Advantage: your own place to play, guaranteed server resources up to your partition’s cap.  Disadvantage: you can’t take advantage of the resources that the other partitions aren’t using like you can with the shared server.

Best for: I personally don’t recommend VPS hosting.  I tried it for a while and was completely unimpressed.  In for a penny in for a pound, I say, and if I’m spending money and getting dedicated resources, I’d rather have…

Private (Dedicated) Server: your very own home for your website.  With dedicated hosting, you will have full control over your entire server.  There are differences between private server plans, so you should do your homework and speak with potential hosting companies to see where your website fits in with their offerings.  Be sure to know:

1) Exactly what type of server you will receive and how much horsepower it has
2) The level of support you receive from the hosting provider
3) What you will be charged for (bandwidth, number of databases, disc usage, FTP accounts, etc)

Best for: High-traffic websites, those who want lots of control over their site and the resources it consumes.

For experienced website owners: what type of hosting do you use and recommend? Have you had good experiences with Virtual Private Servers? If you have a high traffic site, when did you switch to a dedicated server, or, have you been able to stick with shared hosting and save money?

Coming up in this series: Domain Names; Setting Up Your Server

* Of course, all of this applies if you have a website without a blog too!

What Figure Skating Teaches Us About Business

I am a huge believer in the fact that there are learning opportunities to be found in all aspects of everyday life.  So to pay homage to my past career on the ice and the recently-concluded Winter Olympics, today we’re going to take a closer look at the sport of figure skating, and the lessons that we can learn by paying close attention and listening to the swish of the blades.

Lesson 1: Determination and perseverance pay off

By far the most heartwarming figure skating story of the Vancouver Olympics was that of Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao.  Married since 2007, Shen and Zhao returned from retirement to compete in their fourth Olympics at the ages of 31 and 36 (unheard of for modern figure skating).  They broke through to win the Olympic gold medal.


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From Xue and Hongbo, we learn that things get better with time.  The couple had been skating together since 1992, but only fell in love in the last few years, and of course, only reached Olympic gold in 2010, after eighteen years of working towards their goal.  While hopefully it won’t take you eighteen years to reach your business goals, it’s important to know that you will continue to grow and define yourself over time.  Your business and your industry will evolve and you must be willing to stick with it, work hard and work smart, and trust that the solid foundation you lay will help catapult you to success when the time is right.

Lesson 2: Healthy competition only makes you better

What do the ice dancing teams of Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir have in common? It used to be their coaches – Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband.

Then Belbin and Agosto left Michigan and began training with Linichuk and Karponosov.

And the podium for ice dancing in Vancouver looked like this:


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So why did the teams of Virtue and Moir and Davis and White (who are good friends in addition to being training partners) rise to success so quickly? Aside from their phenomenal talent, the fact is that training together pushed them to raise their game each and every day.

Although competition might seem scary at first, it’s something you should welcome. It will raise the stakes, but that is what allows you to challenge yourself and become even better tomorrow than you were yesterday.

Lesson 3: How you handle controversy defines you

It wouldn’t be an Olympics without a figure skating controversy and Vancouver was no different.  Evan Lysacek and Evgeny Plushenko were 1-2 after the short program, with the slimmest of margins separating them.  In the free skate, Evan’s all around skating skills were enough to vault him to the gold medal, and Plushenko settled for silver.


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As we all know now, the battle didn’t end on the ice.  And while we won’t debate the ins and outs of the code of points here (suffice it to say that I think they both have nuggets of truth in their arguments), what we can take away from this experience is that your poise and grace under pressure – your ability to handle controversy – can define you in business.

Do you crack under stress?
Do you write or speak without thinking?
How do you respond when someone lashes out at you?

As a small business, you are your own public relations, so be cognizant of your actions and their impact on your image, and on your business results.

Lesson 4: Costumes can make all of the difference

Notice, if you will, the difference between the costume on the left and the costume on the right.


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Same couple, my friends.

So what can we learn from Domnina and Shabalin? Well, it’s simple. No matter how great your skills are, branding is important.

How do you differentiate yourself?
Is your website design consistent and pleasing to the eye?
Do others see you as you want to be seen?

Your design, and not your talent, is the first thing that someone sees when they visit your website. And you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

So there you have it, four lessons that figure skating can teach us about business. What other life and business lessons did you learn from the Winter Olympics?

What Is WordPress Anyway?

Although there are several blogging platforms available to you, we’re mainly going to discuss the technology and coding behind 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 and Elizabeth Anne Designs.

WordPress is an open-source program.  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’s 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, blogroll links, 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 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 this series of posts, we’re going to cover server needs, hosting basics, and the installation and basic configuration of WordPress. And don’t forget, if there are specific things that you would like me to cover, comment or contact me to let me know!