LeadPages does a lot of things great and I have been using them for over a year now with a lot of success on several different websites.
I don’t recall exactly how I found Evernote, but I do recall not being real impressed with it at first. Based on my oldest Evernote note, I began using Evernote early in 2008, mostly to keep text notes. A month or so later, I all but stopped using it. In hindsight, I know why – I wasn’t using Evernote correctly. Fortunately after reading some Evernote tips articles, I tried it again.
The second time around, I decided to put everything in my life I possibly could in Evernote. This included:
- To be read articles
- Any and all paper I needed to retain (I scanned it)
Basically any bit of information that I needed to retain for more than an hour or so, I recorded in Evernote. A week or so later, my life was changed. I could suddenly find things, my desk was cleaner and I was more organized. I was hooked.
I’ve been using Evernote since then and not only for personal life, but for my blogging business as well. I’ve been engaged in a number of recent discussions related to Evernote out on Google+ and in doing so I realized that while I’ve said I use Evernote, I’ve really never captured exactly how I use Evernote for blogging. But, before I go there, let me explain what it is about Evernote that makes it unique.
Why Evernote is unique
I’m all about simplicity and less is more, which is the main reason Evernote works so well for me. Evernote allows you to place all of your data in one place and provides access that data from anywhere at anytime. When I say data, I mean everything, text, images, binaries, and PDFs.
I don’t have to think about where my data is, I just open Evernote on my MacBook, or my iPhone/iPad or via a web browser, search and I find what I need. Before using Evernote, I had data on my local hard drive, data in email, data in Google Docs, data in post it notes on my desk, in paper notebooks on my desk, and in file cabinets full of folders and paper … well you get the picture. I basically had important data all over the place and much of it not accessible when I wasn’t home.
One of the big problems I had was remembering where each bit of information was located. A few examples:
- If my kids needed birth certificates or social security cards those were in the file cabinet.
- If I needed a receipt, hopefully I kept it and put it in my file cabinet. Of course if it was, it wasn’t in order so I had to manually search for it.
- Login credentials would either be in my email or in some local file on my hard drive.
- If I was cooking dinner one night and needed a recipe it was either in our paper recipe file, in some cookbook, on some sheet of paper in some cookbook, bookmarked in my browser or in my email. I literally didn’t cook some recipes because I couldn’t find them even though I knew I had them, somewhere.
As you can see, I was spending a great deal of time and energy just trying to find things.
Once I committed to using Evernote, I saved time. Not at first of course, because getting all of that information into Evernote took time, but as I needed something, I would find it, and spend an extra minute or two to get it into Evernote. Then, the next time I needed it, the time spent was almost nothing.
As many of you know, by day I’m a software developer for a Fortune 500 company. I had the pleasure of working for a really brilliant guy early in my career on one of my first big projects. This guy was incredibly organized. If you asked him for something, he would pull open is file drawer and within seconds find it. His organization system was incredibly efficient. I asked him one day: “Joel, how do you have time to be that organized?” I’ll never forget his reply, and it has stuck with me for the past 20 years, he said: “I don’t have time not to be“.
See, Joel recognized the importance of thinking long term, not short term. He invested a little extra time upfront, in order to save far more time down the road. I started trying to do that with my life and specifically when I started my blogging business.
Everything goes into Evernote right away
For most things, my use of Evernote for blogging is really no different than my use of Evernote for every other part of my life. Anytime I get a new piece of information, it immediately goes into Evernote.
One little tip I’ve learned to help me do this is to make adding the information quick. I’m often very busy and telling myself “I don’t have time to add it now, I’ll add it later” is really easy to do. I’ve learned though, that if I don’t add it now, it probably won’t get done.
Evernote Tip: Add everything to your inbox by default. Circle back once a day, clean up your notes and correctly file them in the right place.
I have Evernote set-up so that each new note goes into my inbox. I create the note, quickly add the data and move on. I circle back, usually once a day, and go through my Evernote inbox and finish the add process. This involves:
- Making sure the title is correct and thorough
- Tagging the note
- Cleaning up any formatting issues
- Filing the note in the correct stack and notebook
I do this for every single note in my inbox.
Another big mistake I was making with Evernote was converting images to text manually. For example, if someone gave me a business card, I would key in the data from the business card into my contacts notebook. I later stated just taking a picture of the card instead.
If it’s an image how can I search for it?
That is handled by Evernote. When you bring a image or PDF (only with premium) into Evernote, Evernote performs OCR on the image so that it’s fully searchable.
Evernote Tip: Use your smart phone or laptop camera to take pictures of data whenever you can. This will save you time, and in most cases, Evernote’s OCR functionality will make it searchable. If not, you can always add additional text to the image note later just for searching.
Evernote for blogging
Over the past few years I’ve developing a system to keep myself organized specific to my blogging and services work. I have an Evernote Stack called Side Income Blogging. In that Stack I have the following Notebooks:
- Articles – contains ideas, drafts and ready to be published articles. I also keep guest articles here as well.
- Services – all of my Side Income Blogging Services notes go here.
- Code Snippets – Anytime I write code for myself or a client that I think I might use again, it goes here.
- Design Scrapbook – I spend a great deal of time reading design blogs and surfing for clipart, textures, photoshop brushes, etc. All of those finds go here, including sites I run across that have great designs I like.
- Receipts – Anytime I purchase something related to my blogging business, I scan the receipt and put it here. If it’s a taxable write-off, I tag it taxable to help with my taxes at the end of the year.
- Site Information – This notebook is used to keep all of the information on my sites. I keep domain names, IDs, URLS, passwords, database names, etc. here. I highly recommend you encrypt notes containing sensitive information such as passwords.
- Affiliates – Contains my affiliate information, including websites, products, contacts and other related informaiton.
- Misc – Everything else goes here. I try to minimize putting data here, but for one off items where I can’t justify a new notebook, this works well.
Evernote tip: Minimize the number of notebooks you have. Use tagging to further organize notes within the notebook
Let’s talk about Articles, because that is the Notebook I use for my article workflow. The notebook has three types of articles:
- Article Ideas – tagged: articleidea – This is where I jot down any and all article ideas I come up with. I have tons of stuff in here. Some of these start out as verbal recordings if I’m on the go, and I come back later and turn them into text. You do know that Evernote can record sound and voice right?
- Draft Articles – tagged: articledraft – These are articles I’ve started on, but are not be ready to be published. These can be outlines to almost complete articles.
- Complete Articles – tagged: article – These are complete articles ready to be published.
- Guest Articles – tagged: articleguest – These are articles I’m writing for other people or blogs
When I sit down to write, if I don’t have an article idea in mind, I’ll skim over my article ideas to see what appeals to me. I’ll then edit that idea and begging flushing out a draft of the article. Once the article is complete, I’ll retag it so I know it’s ready to publish. Sometimes I’ll go ahead and do that, other times it will sit to be published in the future. I also use tags to track which blog the article is for.
Evernote Web Clipper
A key tool to making Evernote work for me is Evernote Web Clipper. Web Clipper is a plugin that runs in all popular browsers and provides intelligent web clipping. If I run across an article I want to read, but don’t have time, I use Web Clipper to capture it to my Personal>>To Read notebook. If I run across a recipe I want to try, I use Web Clipper to capture it to Personal>>Recipes.
I also use Web Clipper to manage bookmarks. I do this by visiting the page, opening Web Clipper and changing the Save button to “Save URL” rather than the default “Save Article”. Bookmarks get saved in Personal>>Bookmarks and I use tags to further organize them.
Another way I use Web Clipper is for capturing images. I frequently use Creative Commons images in my articles and headers. I also use textures and photoshop brushes in my services work. I use Web Clipper to capture the images and website. This allows finding and viewing images later on much easier.
Evernote tip: Be careful using Web Clipper on Google Images. Web Clipper won’t just clip the opened image, but the entire page. This is a huge problem because google images page’s are infinite scrolling, so the clipped page is huge. Instead, visit the actual site where the image is and clip from there.
Evernote has turned out to be the single most positively impacting tool I’ve ever used for blogging. I was so disorganized before and spent countless hours in wasted time trying to find stuff. Evernote has freed up my life and given me more time to devote to blogging and my services work.
If you haven’t tried Evernote, I would strongly recommend you download it and give it a go. Commit to using for a few weeks, not just a few hours or days. Evernote has huge benefits in the long term that you just can’t appreciate if you only use it for a short period of time.
If you have tried Evernote before and didn’t like it, try it again. Make sure you put everything in it and again use it for a few weeks. I can almost guarantee you’ll stay with it.
One of the biggest selling points for me is that Evernote is free for up to 60MB of data each month. I’ve come close, but so far I haven’t gone over the limit. If you need more features or additional upload capacity, Evernote premium is only $5.00 per month or $45.00 per year.
Also, let me recommend a really great resource on Evernote that I’m currently reading through: Evernote Essentials (affiliate link). Evernote Essentials is the guide for getting started and being successful with Evernote. I’m about half way through the 95 page guide, and am very impressed. The author even wrote a good portion of the Evernote documentation.
Do you use Evernote? What’s your best tip? How do you use it?
For those of you that might just be coming into this series on Google Analytics for your blog, this is the third article in a series. Part one provided an overview of Google Analytics along with diving into the audience overview section. Part two discussed the Traffic Sources section of Google Analytics.
In this third part of the series, we’ll explore the details of the Google Analytics Content section which allows you to view metrics data for the actual content of your blog or website. The content section includes a large number of sub-sections and data, which makes for a big article. You might want to consider bookmarking this article for future reference.
The Content Section in Google Analytics provides metrics about the specific content pages on your blog or website. This includes tracking and showing the most popular pages on your site, showing bounce rate by content page, and a number of other metrics specific to individual pages. You can also view information about landing pages and exit pages, so you can see where visitors are coming into your site, and on which pages they are leaving from.
The Content Section additionally includes Site Speed for performance metrics, detailed metrics on Google Site Search (if you’re running it), Events, Adsense , Experiments, and finally in page Analytics.
The Content section is available just below the Traffic Sources section in the left side navigation bar, here’s a screen shot showing the Content Overview Page:
The Content Overview page shows exactly what one would expect, summary information about the top content pages (by pageviews) for your blog or website. Prior to using the WP Most Popular plugin, I used this page as the basis for my “Most Popular Articles” widget in the sidebar. Not an incredibly useful page, but there are times when it’s interesting to see which articles are getting the most traffic. This information can be used to help you determine which topics or content types are most popular so you write more on these topics
Just a reminder, that the data shown here is only for the selected time period in the upper right hand corner. You’ll need to adjust the date range based on the timeframe you want to see. For example, if you wanted to see the rankings of your content for the entire life of your blog, you would need to adjust the start date to the start date of your blog to present day.
You can also change the number of pages shown by clicking the “Show Full Report” link in the bottom right. This is the same as clicking the “All Pages” link under Site Content.
Clicking on an individual page will take you to a Content Overview page only for the page selected. This view allows you to see metrics specific to a page. I often use this to see the bounce rate at an individual page level so I can tweak particular pages to reduce bounce rate.
Site Content, just below the Overview page offers additional options for viewing information about your site’s pages. All pages will show you the Content Overview page, but for all pages on your site.
This page is a little misleading. On the surface, it looks the same as the Content Overview page; however if you pay particular attention, you’ll note a few differences, namely the small icons next to each of the pages listed. The content drilldown page shows activity at a folder or directory level, not just at the page level. In general for most blogs, this won’t be incredibly useful, but it can be depending on what you’re trying to see.
In the screenshot below, I’ve circled one of the “folders” on my blog, \category\. Category is the parent folder for all category pages on my blog. Viewing this data shows me how many people have viewed category pages as a whole on my blog. I can then click on category and see the breakdown below that, which of course would be my individual categories. This view would also be very useful if you have nested pages (parent/child pages) set-up in WordPress. I personally don’t use nested pages, but a number of my clients do for various reasons.
The landing pages view shows you the top pages on your blog that people arrive on on when they visit your blog from another website. Data on this page can be used to:
- Determine which pages are serving as the “first” view of your website. These pages should be optimized to include more links into your site and provide introductory information about your site. You’ll also want to make sure these pages are error free and render correctly on mobile and in all browsers. First impressions count!
- Determine how well each each of these pages is performing and retaining visitors. Is the bounce rate high? Add more in article links and more options for exploring other parts of your site within the article and in the sidebars. If visitors aren’t staying long, you might want to consider revising your content or refreshing it to make it line up more with what visitors are looking for.
Just as you would expect, the exit pages view shows you the pages that people leave your site from. These pages should be used to determine which pages to focus on for conversion or to drive people deeper into your site. Conversion meaning selling something.
If you sell products (like eBooks) on your site, the exit pages report can be used to determine on which pages you should focus your eBook sales efforts.
Honestly, this is not a report I use often, as I don’t currently offer or sell any products. But I plan to.
Over the past 2 years, Google has made it very clear that site performance factors into their search engine rankings and the overall score they give your blog. Given that, making sure that your site performs well is critical. The Site Speed section of Google Analytics provides you with performance information for your blog and its individual pages.
Site Speed Overview
The Site Speed overview section provides you with a main chart showing your site’s performance (page load times by default) for the selected time span. Below that, you’re shown summary information for various performance metrics. Here’s a screenshot of mine:
- Avg. Page Load Time – Average amount of time for pages to load. This is the total time spent starting with the page request to being fulled rendered in the browser. Your target number here should be 3-5 seconds, and anything over 7 seconds is too slow.
- Avg. Redirection Time – Average time for any site redirection to occur. If you don’t use redirection, this value should be 0.
- Avg. Domain Lookup Time – Average time for a DNS lookup to occur. A DNS lookup is the amount of time spent looking up your domain name, and determining the actual end server to direct the request to.
- Avg. Server Connect Time – The average amount of time spent establishing a connection to your web server. If you have a good hosting company, this number should be low. I host with A small Orange (affiliate link), and as you can see, my average time is .04 seconds – really good. I see this number above 1 second for less expensive hosting with many of my clients. A second is really too long considering on average your entire site should be fully responding within 3-5 seconds.
- Avg. Server Response Time – The average amount of time for your web server to respond, including network transport time. Again, you want this number low – definitely less than 1 second.
- Avg. Page Download Time – The average time to actually download the page. This does not include rendering it in the browser.
The real key number you should focus on out of all of these is Avg. Page Load Time, because that is the real time your visitor/readers see. The other numbers can often add insight into where your slowdowns occur.
Below these summary numbers, Google Analytics also shows you the Avg. Page Load time by browser. If you look at my numbers, you’ll see that Chrome renders pages significantly faster than both Internet Explorer and Firefox.
As you can see on the graph in the screenshot, some of my Avg. Load Times are slow. The primary reason for this is due to backups running on my site and also due to MediaTemple scheduled maintenance work. The slow times are minimal and are during off hours, but do skew my average up. Overall, my site responds in about 3.5 seconds on average. I’ve recently made some caching tweaks to bring the overall numbers down. I’m very happy with a sub 4 second number.
As the name implies, page timings just shows you performance numbers for individual pages on your blog. The pages are sorted by Pageviews by default. This section provides useful data on determining which of your pages are performing well vs. poorly and allows you to identify and tweak slow pages. Individual pages could be slow for a number of reasons, but a I’ve common reasons are: incorrectly sized images, slow ads or slow affiliate offers specific to the page.
The sections below are not sections I use in Analytics. I am familiar with them at a high level, but have not spend much time understanding or using them. I’ll share what I know for overview purposes and will link out to places where you can learn more information.
User timings allow you to track user times for specific actions being taken on your blog. I don’t currently use user timings and it requires special set-up and installation of specific Google Analytics tracking script to work. If this is something you are interested in using, you can find more information on the Google Analytics blog.
Site Search allows you to track analytics data for Google CSE or Site Search on your blog. I just recently added Google CSE as the search engine for my blog and haven’t yet set-up the site search integration. Once I do, I’ll update this article with the details. The meantime, you can read all about how it works on the Google Analytics blog.
Events allow you to track user interactions with your site that can be tracked independent from a web page on your site or screen load. Examples of these are: Downloads, mobile ad clicks, video plays, etc.
This is not something I currently use nor am I very familiar with, thus I won’t go into any further detail on it but you can read more in Analytics help.
If you run Adsense ads on your blog, you can set-up Google Analytics so that it integrates with your Adsense Account. This is done through your Adsense account settings. I am not running Adsense on this blog currently, so I don’t have any beneficial data to show. Even if I did, disclosing Adsense income and associated data is a touchy subject with Google and often against the Adsense Terms of Service, so I wouldn’t be comfortable showing any screen shots as well.
But, as you would expect, the Adsense section provides you with metrics on your blog or site’s Adsense income both at a summary level and on a per post level so you can see what pages on your site are earning the most money for you. If you run Adsense on your site, I would highly recommend you set-up this integration and use the data in this Analytics section.
Google Analytics experiments allow you to test various landing pages on your blog or website. Using experiments you can test which pages have the highest bounce rate and which have the highest conversation rates. Again, I have not used this feature yet, but understand from others that have, that it is a pretty powerful feature for those of you focusing on landing pages and conversations.
You can read more about Google Analytics experiments here.
In Page Analytics
This isn’t something I use frequently, but I do use it, specifically to see how a particular page is working and to watch design changes that I make. In Page analytics will overlay certain Google Analytics data on top of your actual blog page, so you can see the % of vistiors and where they click. Here’s a screen shot from my front page over the past week with In Page Analytics up and running:
If you’re a visual person, you’ll love in page analytics. I tend to be more data oriented, but I do like to see visually how the clicks on my site area spread out and where most of the clicks occur. I don’t think In Page Analytics as effective as CrazyEgg for determining how and where people post actively use your site, but it does provide some free and quick data.
I really suggest you play around with it and see what you think.
Google Analytics Content Section – Done
That wraps up the overview of the Google Analytics Content section. This was a big one, but I really hope the overview gave you some additional insights and made Google Analytics feel a little less overwhelming.
The next and final article in this series will tell you how to use all of this data to make your blog better.
Two weeks ago, I was working on my Friday Most Excellent article. I made a couple of tweaks to the article after it was published and pressed update. WordPress was busy saving for a very long time, then up popped the dreaded 500 server error message. No big deal I thought, I’ll just make the tweaks again and save it again. I pulled the post up and all but the first couple of sentences were gone!
My shock and dismay must have been a little louder than I thought, as my wife asked “What’s wrong?”. Shortly after, I remembered I had fortunately backups. I sure hope my BackupBuddy daily backup ran this morning …
Fortunately, my backup did run and I began the process of restoring my blog from backup to recover the article. In theory, restoring the backup should have just been a few simple clicks, but of course, it’s never that simple is it?
While the backup plugin I use, BackupBuddy (affiliate link), did make it relatively easy, I thought it would be helpful if I walked you through a complete restore of a BackupBuddy backup. If you aren’t familiar with BackupBuddy, it’s definitely a plugin I highly recommend and personally use on all of the sites. You can read more about how I use it for my blogs in my article: How to backup your WordPress blog automatically.
How to restore a BackupBuddy backup
The first step you’ll need to take is to download the backup that you want to restore. I keep both database and full site backups. This example will walk you through restoring a full site backup. Restoring a database only backup is very similar, just less steps. The instructions below will walk you through completing a BackupBuddy restore for my homeowners association website I’m working on.
I normally store all of my backups on Amazon S3, but for this example, I just ran a manual BackupBuddy backup and downloaded it straight from my Media Temple server. You can do this by going to the BackupBuddy >> Migrate, Restore menu option in your WordPress admin console. Once there, your screen should look similar to this one:
Preparing to restore the BackupBuddy backup
Since I did a manual backup and stored it locally, my latest backup was available right off the Migrate/Restore page. Let’s get the necessary files downloaded to our local computer:
- Right click on the link to your latest download listed in the Backup File section. Select Save As… and save the backup zip file. I generally just use the default downloads directory.
- Next, click on the red button that says ImportBuddy. You’ll be prompted for a password that will be associated with your importbuddy.php file. This password security mechanism keeps just anyone from accessing your importbuddy.php file. If you leave this field blank, the default password in your BackupBuddy settings will be used. I generally just input a unique password, just to be on the safe side.
- After entering a password or leaving it blank, the importbuddy.php file will be downloaded to your default downloads directory. Both your backup zip file and your importbuddy.php file should now both be in the same directory on your local computer.
Upload your importbuddy.php and backup ZIP file
Next, we’ll upload both files to your web server. There are a couple of ways to do this, with FTP being the easiest option. If you’re hosting company supports ControlPanel, you can also use ControlPanels file manager to upload both files.
Both of these files must be uploaded to the directory where your WordPress installation is located. This will be the same directory that contains the wp-config.php file along with the wp-contents directory and a number of other files and folders. If you are unsure of the WordPress installation location, contact your hosting company to confirm.
Also important: Do not rename the BackupBuddy backup file. The importbuddy.php file will not be able to find it if you do. Trust me, I learned the hardway.
Create a new WordPress database
Next we need to create a new database for the restore to be copied into. BackupBuddy will not overlay your existing database. Unfortunately this process varies by hosting company, and it would be to much for me to walk you through the process for even the top few. I could certainly help you as part of my services business or I’m sure your hosting company’s support would help you.
But in a nutshell, you’ll want to create a new database and a user for that database. The user you create should have full rights to the database. MediaTemple allows you to do this via Plesk, while companies like Bluehost and HostGator use ControlPanel.
Temporarily store the database name, database user name and database user password. We’ll be using that information shortly.
Restoring the BackupBuddy backup
Now that both files are in the proper location on your server, it’s time to restore the backup:
Open up your browser of choice, and navigate to your website, but put \importbuddy.php on the end. For example, if your blog is someblog.com, you would navigate to http://someblog.com/importbuddy.php
If you’re unlucky, like me, your screen now looks something like this:
Error #22434. This directory is not write enabled. Please verify write permissions to continue.
Don’t panic, easily fixed. Different hosts have different default levels of permissions. All BackupBuddy is trying to tell us here is that the directory for your WordPress installation isn’t writable. We’ll need to make it writable before we can proceed.
You can use your FTP program to do this or the ControlPanel File Manager. Find your WordPress directory, and change the file permissions for the directory that contains your WordPress installation to 777. Pay attention to what they were before you make the change, because we’ll need to set them back once we’re done. What 777 does is make your whole WordPress directory writable – not very secure. But don’t worry, we won’t leave it like this for long.
Here’s the screen shot from the FTP/Development tool I use show the correct permissions for the httpdocs folder on my MediaTemple server.
With that change made, access the importbuddy.php file from your web browser again. If all went well, you should see the screen for Authentication:
Remember earlier when we downloaded the importbuddy.php file and we either specified a password or left it blank for the default? Here’s where you’ll enter this password and press the Authenticate button. If you forgot the password, you can just get the importbuddy.php file again and re-upload it.
After pressing Authenticate, you’ll proceed to Step 1 – Choosing your backup file :
A couple things of note here:
- If you uploaded your backup zip file to the right place, you’ll see it listed above. If not, no worries. Click on the upload tab and you can select and upload it from here. If you use BackupBuddy Stash, you can select your file from there. I don’t currently use Stash as I started using Amazon S3 before they announced it.
- The little yellow warning is basically just telling us: “Hey, you already have a site installed here and bad things could happen if you just overlay it.” Now, if you’re confident an overlay won’t be an issue, than proceed. If you aren’t sure, you should delete all of the files and folders in your WordPress directory on your server so BackupBuddy can do a clean install. The couple of times I’ve done restores, I did an overlay with no issues, but your mileage may vary.
Once you’re ready, press Next Step and you’ll see the page below:
Really nothing to do here. This screen will show you the extract process for your backup ZIP file. Just watch for the “Files successfully extracted” and press the Next Step button. If you get an error, consult the BackupBuddy site, they have tons of FAQs to help you resolve any issues.
After pressing Next Step from the extract screen, you’ll see the following page:
This page is where you’ll tell BackupBuddy how to connect to your new database so it can import your data. Put your database information in and press the Test Database Settings button. Assuming you put all of your values in correctly, you should see the same text in gray above from my screenshot.
If so, press Next Step. If not, recheck/reenter the information and try again. The problem could also be that you may have wrote down the information incorrectly or made a typo when you created the database. If all else fails, just delete the database and create another one.
After pressing Next Step, you’ll see the following page:
This page is like the ZIP file extract page and shows the verbose output of your database import. If all goes well, you’ll see a message saying:
“Initial database import complete”.
If you get errors, use the error text to troubleshoot the issue or again consult the BackupBuddy site for assistance.
Assuming all went well, click Next Step!
This page wraps up the database migration by updating your WordPress config files and showing you the final import status. Hopefully yours says “Import complete” like mine.
At this point, you’ll want to access your site and verify it is operational. Do not close this window. – just open a new tab to verify your site.
Once you’ve confirmed that your site is up and running, press the Clean up & remove temporary files button and you’ll see this page:
This page displays a log of the clean-up activities. BackupBuddy is kind enough to clean-up any temporary files and backup files and removes the importbuddy.php file. I have seen this not work 100% of the time though, so I would definitely recommend giving your restored WordPress directory a quick skim and delete any unfamiliar BackupBuddy files.
Finally, don’t forget to reset your WordPress directory permissions back to the original value, which is generally 750. Resetting these permissions is critically important to securing your site, so please don’t forget!
BackupBuddy backup restore is complete
That’s it, all done. While certainly not 100% point and click, it is relatively simple, especially taking into consideration what’s going on under the covers. BackupBuddy does a lot of the leg work for you.
The really slick thing about BackupBuddy is that you can not only restore your site using it, but you can also migrate your site to another hosting company or server using the same process! I’ve also built “clean” template sites, with just WordPress, Thesis (affiliate link), and the base plugins I normally use. Then I ran a BackupBuddy backup and used the restore process to do new WordPress installs. This makes site creation and initial set-up really simple. This single feature alone has saved me a ton of time, and paid for the plugin 2-3 times over in time saved.
If you currently don’t use BackupBuddy, I would highly recommend you give BackupBuddy (affiliate link) a try. You won’t find me saying that about too many “pay for” products, but this is one that’s worth the money. The whole process just works, and the fact that I don’t even have to think about my backup process really helps me sleep better at night.
What’s this “affiliate link” thing? An affiliate link is a link that pays me a commission if you purchase the product in the link. The product doesn’t cost any more for you. I take affiliate offers very very seriously, and I don’t ever recommend a product or include an affiliate link to it if I haven’t personally used it and like it. Most of the time I use these same products everyday and when I don’t, I use them with my clients. You never have to worry about trusting an affiliate link on Side Income Blogging.
Now that we have our base pages in place, it’s time to add some sidebar widgets. This will complete the overall look of the blog and then it will be time to dive in and starting writing.
WordPress sidebar widgets
One of the really neat features of WordPress is the ability “drop” widgets into your sidebars. WordPress widgets are visual “gadgets” that can moved in and out of your sidebar and even moved around in your sidebar. This all happens on on the fly and as soon as you drop a widget, it’s available on your blog.
WordPress by default comes with a number of default widgets. You can see them by logging into your WordPress admin console and clicking on Appearance>>Widgets. The widgets are displayed to the left and the available sidebars will be shown on the right. There are widgets for categories, archives, links, calendars, searching, comments and more. Remember too, this is just the default ones, there are many more available on WordPress.org Plugins library.
Many bloggers make one of two common mistakes related to sidebars:
- They content flows far beyond their sidebar
- Their sidebar flows way beyond their content
Let’s look at the situation of content flowing far beyond the sidebar first. Doesn’t seem like a bad thing right? Once users scroll past your sidebar, they aren’t being presented with anything but your articles. All of your opportunity for them to click on ads, see your featured posts, subscribe, purchase your ebook ,etc are gone. 25 – 30% of your blog page is now white space (read wasted space).
With that in mind, filling up the sidebar and sticking tons of stuff in it would fix that right? Well, if you sidebar flows way beyond your content, than you have the opposite problem. Now you have up to 70% of your blog showing white space and no content.
As with most things, the best option is a compromise. Do your very best to keep your sidebar and content equal in length. Problem solved. You’ll note that I do just that here on Side Income Blogging. Personally, I think it just looks better too. Nothing worse (in my opinion) than a large amount of wasted space.
What WordPress sidebar widgets do you need?
With all of those widgets, how in the world do you decide what to put and in what order? Well, there is no right or wrong answer to that question, and ultimately you’ll have to play around with various combinations until you find what works. But in order to get you started, here are the widgets I recommend an in the order I recommend them:
Subscriptions Widget – I talked about this widget earlier in this series when we did your Feedburner set-up. This widget should always be at the top of your blog. This widget is only available with the Thesis theme. If you aren’t running Thesis, you’ll want to use a Text widget and build your own text and links.
Welcome/About (optional) – There isn’t a widget for this, so you’ll use a text widget. The welcome/About widget will provide a few sentences (i would recommend no more than 5) about your blog or you. The decision really depends on if you are trying to primarily brand yourself or your blog. In general, most of you will want to brand your blog. Those looking to establish consulting or services businesses should work on branding themselves. After the 3-5 sentences, provide a “Read more on our about page” and link to your about page. I noted this widget as optional, as it really is personal preference. I prefer to have this information in the footer rather than the sidebar.
Search – The WordPress search isn’t optimal, but for now it will be sufficient. Later, as your blog grows, we’ll want to incorporate Google search. Search will be an important tool used by your visitors to find your content, hence why it’s high on the list. You don’t ever want someone to have trouble finding your search.
Categories – We’ll discuss this a bit more in a future article, but WordPress provides the ability to relate each post that you write to a category. This provides your visitors with an additional way to browse your content. For example, if you want to see all of the tips on blogging here at Side Income Blogging, than you could visit my blogging tips category page. The categories widget will list off all of the categories that have posts on your blog.
Archives (optional) – Archives again provides an additional way for visitors to browse your content. Archives allows visitors to view your content by publish date. You wouldn’t think many people would do this, but I was surprised at the number of contacts I’ve received that said something like “I just finished reading all of your content from start to finish”. Personally I prefer my archives on a dedicated page, but I’ve seen them in the sidebar frequently on other blogs. The Thesis theme offers a really slick archives page.
Add WordPress sidebar widgets to your sidebar
Adding WordPress sidebar widgets to your sidebar is easy:
- Access the Appearance>>Widgets menu from your WordPress admin console
- Find the WordPress widget you want from the list of available widgets
- Using your mouse, drag the widgets into your sidebar. If you have more than one sidebar, drag it to the one you would like the widget placed on.
- After dropping the widget, it will expand to show you any options the particular widget may have. Set these to your liking and press the Save button.
- Your widget or widgets are now live on your site.
Always remember: Your sidebar should augment your content and never distract the reader from it.
Graphic by: Kurt Thomas Hunt