Where Did I Go On Periscope?

After an initial blitz of Periscope videotaping, I left it except for a few scattered attempts that didn’t last very long. Will I return? Maybe. Here is what happened; what I think of Periscope, then and now; and whether and when I will return.

First, watch this, a Periscope, WordPress, related review that I posted on Youtube:

That was one of my last major “broadcasts”.

I got a bit bored with Periscope, and found it less useful for Youtube than I’d hoped. To be fair, I haven’t done any Youtube uploads for a long time either.

Here are some quick downsides which lead to my hiatus:

Periscope

  • I just didn’t know what to do with it. Tried thinking about making a loose script, topics, times to broadcast, and making graphics for the background ( when using for Youtube). It all seemed too hard, complex, and I went on to other stuff in life.
  • This reason will arise in the Youtube video, too: I feel self-conscious about how I look on tape. The work involved in makeup, hairstyling, lighting, and clothes just is more than I can manage much of the time.
  • Lest you think that is vain of me, it also has to do with the fact that I am a low energy person and feel I should be “up” and energetic to make the best video for my audience. I think you deserve my best and when I can’t give it I stop writing, making video or broadcasting. Who wants to see someone depressed or complaining? I don’t, and I don’t want to dump that on the public. This is different than being real. Real is good, but just being blah and bummed, uh, no.
  • I get bored with Periscope. And sometimes annoyed.
  • Still on the upward trek of the learning curve makes it a lot of effort for me and I wanted to write and garden more, and get my life a little more together.

OK- that was all the downside… I am going to write an upside later, after I rework my plan for how I want to divide my time making content. I also have considered podcasting which would take a couple of my barriers out of the way. Undecided at this point.

YOUTUBE

Yes. I basically really love Youtube. I want to do more and have unedited video in the wings. Here are the reasons I haven’t put anything new on my channels:

  • Getting ready for a video: hair, makeup, energy, mood, script ( which I have avoided thus far, but feel is needed)
  • Editing and learning new software. I have some super duper things to work with but I am UNLEARN-ED. My learning curve is presently tripping me up. I hope the new year allows me to master my video making skills.
  • Garden video requires the above plus the outdoors. I had some problems with the fact that I bought things with WIRES. Why? I need wireless mics etc for outdoors.
  • And I am lazy. I am lazy with cameras. I like to think about a picture or video, but not actually go and get a camera. I like to live my life and not record it. That prevents me from making Youtube uploads.
  • I have little confidence in this medium. I feel like an idiot. Most of the time I manage to overcome this when making something to post, but it hits harder in video.

These weren’t excuses, though it might come off that way. These are the reasons I have been slow to produce new stuff. But I wanted to give something of a review/ slash explanation that I fully intend to come back strong this year. Unless I die or something like that.

Predicted dates for new content:

I will make several Youtube videos over the next couple months, for both my channels. February for sure, later this month is a maybe.

I may return before then, but I like to Periscope outdoors, and that means I won’t resume until spring unless I change my mind. If you follow me on social media channels, a real return to Periscope, with intention, will be trumpeted before I broadcast next time.

That is what is happening in the filming side of my creative endeavors… what’s new with you?

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Site Themes And Plugins

What Do They Do?

Why should you care about your website theme or plugins? And I’m not just talking about WordPress, but those for any platform, including Joomla. At any point when a plugin or a new theme is called for, they all do just one thing:

They Solve A Problem

The gist of it is that when you want a type of layout, or certain functions in your website, or ease of custom features, you will (eventually)  look for a theme that will give you what you are looking for…

Some of these themes will include the plugins built-in (sliders, anyone?) More and more, these problem solvers will simply be plugins.

Do you wish to have a recipe that can be indexed and printed? There are plugins for that,

Would you like to reduce the size of your photos automatically? Plugins will accomplish that task.

Need help with the mysteries of SEO? Plugins can solve this problem.

In fact, this is why there are so very many of them available, and they are both free and premium in just about every blogging platform: they do all sorts of coding and create answers to your need for everything from an ecommerce site to adding easy ways to post to social media.

Just.About. Everything.

The difficulty is choosing the best ones to add style or function to your own blog.

Quickly, what to look for?

  • Ratings.  See what users think about the themes and plugins you are considering.
  • Updates. Plugins can have vulnerabilities, and need to be kept updated if at all possible.
  • Support. If there is good support from a community or developer, it can help trouble shoot when not working right with your site. What good is a plugin that doesn’t work or causes problems… or becomes unusable after platform updates?
  • Function. It does what you need without unnecessary bloat. Plugins, too big or too many, can slow your site.

So basically that is what your theme, with its built-in plugins and setup, and the plugins themselves will do… they are meant to solve your problems and meet your needs. Blogwise, anyway.

 

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Setting Up Your Blog

For those who have already:

  • Purchased their hosting
  • Purchased and set up their domain name
  • Installed their WordPress installation

This is a checklist of sorts for setting up a blog that will work well in the longrun.

Permalinks

First, change the permalinks from the default setup.

At first the blog will have a permalink address based on numbers. It looks like this:

http://www.yourdomain.com/?p=123

The permalinks left like that will not be good for SEO, since urls are important keys in determining what the page is about.
Yoast, a well known WordPress expert who develops very useful plugins (a word about those later in the post), recommends simply using the

 /%postname%/

He also has a tool and instructions for those of us who set up their blog long ago. Change Your Permalinks Structure in WordPress. which I followed, just today, in fact.

Mine involved adding a line of code to my htaccess file ( which is a little scary for non-coders like me).

So my best advice for you, if setting up your blog for the first time is to make sure your permalinks use the post name choice unless you are a news magazine of some sort.

Themes For Your Second Setup Task

Pick a theme. This could be harder than it seems, due in part to the sheer number of them, and the fact that a good theme for you is one that caters to the way you will use WordPress.

I think one way to save time is to sign up with a major theme developer. One of the best is Studiopress, with their Genesis framework. I used them in the beginning and sometime’s wish I had stayed with them, although I am also happy with my present Elegant themes choice.

Of course there are good ones that are completely free, and I tend to use the ones that ship with the new updates for the WP.

After choosing which one, follow these steps to install it.

  1. Download and unzip the theme.
  2. Use a ftp client (Filezilla is free) or your file manager to upload the theme files to the wp-content/themes
  3. Login to the admin section. Click on “Appearance” then click on “Themes”.
  4. Look for the name and picture of your theme. You can either preview the theme or activate it from there.
  5. Customize it if you wish by choosing the “Customize” link.

You can also search for and upload new themes directly on the Appearance/ Themes page. I prefer this way:

  1. Choose a zipped theme file and upload it.
  2. Customize. That’s it!

For much deeper detail on choosing your themes, check this page.

Or use one of the fine professional ones listed here (affilate link).

Foodie Pro
Thesis Theme for WordPress: Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

Adding Plugins

Plugins vastly expand the things your blog can do. They add function without the need to know code, and go digging around in Php pages. From free to premium, these plugins can do many things from creating an ecommerce store to sitemaps. I use many, including those which serve up recipes, protect my blog, and the jetpack group of a wide range of plugins.

The one caution is to not install too many or untrusted ones. They can slow down your site, unnecessarily or open vulnerabilities.

My report on the ones I use, WP Plugins.

These are the basic things you will need to setup, after which it is time to write, write, write, and join social media.

But those are topics for another time.

Can you earn income with Zazzle?

Zazzle Income For Beginners

Zazzle is set up to share profits, through royalties and referrals with their members.

Whether you can earn income is a mixed bag of answers. Many people do earn well, and it must be stated that they probably work very hard at it.

I have read many statements in the forums and elsewhere that provide insights into their process. Most devote several hours each day to making their stores successful.

It is not easy money, but it can be part of a business.

I have done better when I invested more time into improving my store with keywords, designing products, and paying attention to examples from the top trending products.

I make less now than a couple years ago, which may be due to a number of changes that the site has made. My own intention is to work on my brand, improve my techniques and designs, and make more products.

That is also the advice I give you.

It remains to be seen whether the referrals will produce any income, as of now, it doesn’t. (For me, I can’t speak for everyone). It could be that there is too much competition for the casual presentation of products.

Collections

A recent way of showcasing products is the set of collections. Curated by you, these are a way to promote either your own or fellow Zazzler’s work. To complete your profile you make a certain number of collections which are then shown on the stores you own. You can choose which stores a collection appears within.

They work very much like a Pinterest board, just on a smaller scale.

Tips For The Zazzle Entrepreneur

Zazzle Income How-To

Here are the tips I have gathered and learned through my own experience.

  • It is a numbers game- make lots and lots of designs and products for Zazzle income results.
  • Pay close attention to keywords and learning about SEO for Zazzle as well as for your blog.
  • Use your social media to gain interest in your stores and designs.
  • Investigate the idea of designing around a niche. The fact that you can have multiple (free) stores encourages and facilitates this.
  • The forums are very informative, visit there for the new products, helpful tips, and troubleshooting.
  • Set up a blog for showcasing your work. Write posts about the designs or the products. Or related topics such as baby shower parties, wedding invitation tips, birthday party themes, etc.

 


I am beginning to try to use more posts to showcase great products and designs… a type of “curation post”. I will report on whether this has any effect on referral income for me, and let you know what the practices are that result in income from Zazzle.

I tried to sign up as an affiliate for them, but that didn’t work out. The affiliate process from the site itself is what I must use.

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Build Your WordPress Blog: Plugins

Beginning or advanced bloggers who are building their WordPress site rely on plugins to make their blog do what they want it to. How do you find the best ones and what are the potential problems?

Plugins Grow Powerful

It used to be that the theme brought special functions to a WordPress platform, but increasingly the power has shifted from both the core installation of the WordPress softwarer, and also from themes to an array of plugins.

A plugin makes it easy to add the code necessary to do something either very simple like make a list of recent posts, to something very complex like adding a community system (i.e. “Buddypress”).

The WP team has increasingly decided to make features reside in something outside the core.

Remember

Too many plugins can cause “bloat” and slow down your site. Try to limit to your “most needed and wanted”.

Almost everything needed to find the best plugins are right within the dashboard of the latest version of WordPress. Simply find the button for “Plugins”, Go to “add new”, and search. Helpful categories such as “popular” and ratings will guide you to beginning the addition of plugins which expand the power of your blog.

Problems With Plugins

Most of the problems that arise with plugins revolve around “conflicts” with other functions or plugins, and “vulnerabilities”, or ways that hackers can get into your site through the code of the plugin.

With all problems from this source it is important that the plugins be updated. If you have updates in your wordpress installation, don’t delay implementing them. WordPress platform has made that easy.

What is more difficult is when you don’t know something is vulnerable or it needs updating when bundled into a theme.

Best practices that are now advocated by developers is that plugins handle many functions and that they “stand alone” instead of being introduced on the inside of a theme.

Recently, a well known, much used photo slider had been compromised in a very dangerous way. It was inside many themes, and alerts were put out, but there are many, many sites that probably go on without correction of the problem. Read about this here.

This isn’t to strike fear into your heart, but to educate you. Be aware of what to watch out for in a WordPress installation.

Things To Watch

Watch for conflicts between plugins or with your theme. If something isn’t working turn off all and then turn on one at a time to see if that is the problem.

How To Add A WordPress Plugin To Your Blog

 

Which Choices Out Of Thousands?

There are the basics, the features, and those for specific tasks.

Akismet is one of the basics. It prevents spam.

Although I changed around a bit, I use Yarpp (Yet Another Related Post Plugin) which brings up related posts for further discovery of your posts. This is an example of a feature: something your blog will really benefit from, but not a basic concern.

The third example of plugins that I like are those which add a function or feature that I need for a specific purpose. an example of that is one for recipes, or reviews. Adding social icons, or my favorite, an editorial organizer like “WordPress Editorial Calendar”.

Specialty Purposes

For recipes I like “Easy Recipe“, although there are others that probably would work as well. If I were a food blogger, I would want to research what worked best for my needs, and possibly buy a premium version.

Book blogging also has a choice of a number of special plugins for reviews. I like “Book Review Library” by Chris Reynolds the best.

Book Review Library
New Plugin for Adsense
Adsense Publisher Plugin has worked well for me.

I’ve tried a number of Adsense ones, but they had issues, so I’m now using Google Publisher for Adsense. It sometimes has problems with my theme, but is better than other ones I used previously.

The amount of this type is huge, and the best way to find what you want is to read reviews and find the recommendations of the users who test them. I like reading WPTavern blog for ideas about new ones.

 

Plugin
Feature
Price
YARPP
adds a group of related posts to keep readers interested in your content
free
Yoasts SEO
Powerful functions to help your SEO
free
BruteProtect
Secures against security attack
free

Dealing With HTML And CSS

I know how to use these, but many don’t. But despite the fact that I can customize my site and add tables to pages does not mean I want to have the headache of doing all the work ( espeically when it comes to building tables.

Never mind, Beginner and Expert alike! There are plugins that prove very handy for these chores.

TABLES

WordPress posts benefit form visual aids like tables. They are an easy way to organize information. The trouble is that a complex table can be hard to get set up. “Tablepress” is the plugin I use, it is an improvement on an older plugin that I have used on my garden site , and it works like a dream.

Tablepress

HTML ELEMENTS

Shortcode is the name for easy additions of blocks of code that do specific things. It used to be mainly built into themes, but now you can have numerous plugins that create boxes, insert Facebook like buttons, make image sliders- all sorts of things.

There is no single plugin that does this, but I like Elegant Themes shortcode plugin, not the least because I use their themes.

My Experience

I’ve had some trouble with plugins over the years. Some cause conflicted- even breaking my theme. If you have trouble with your theme or even your whole site breaks after updates, go through your plugins to see if that is the culprit.

METHOD:

Turn off ( deactivate) all the plugins. Turn each one back on individually and check to see if one was causing the problem. Unfortunately, you will probably have to delete that one until the developer fixes it.

Many developers provide support and answer questions or run a forum where problems acan be addressed and fixed.

SOMETIMES IT WORKS UNTIL IT DOESN’T

If it worked and then suddenly doesn’t do what it used to, it maybe that you will have to find a similar plugin to do that feature.

Or sometimes you find the occasional one that does something (secretly) that you don’t like, monetzers that take some of your income without your permission, though usually it is defaults you were not aware you needed to change.

Be aware is all I can say about that.

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