Categories
Web/Tech

5 Things to Do With a Brand New WordPress Site

So, you want to get started in blogging? Awesome. If your intended audience is over the age of 18 you are going to want to use WordPress. (Under 18? Use Tumblr.) Also, if you are just getting started I’d recommend spending the first 12 months of blogging on a WordPress.com blog. You’ll have way less flexibility but spend way more time actually writing than fiddling with your site settings. Don’t spend money until you know you like blogging.

It starts with a foundation: If you are going the self-hosted route, I am currently recommending Hostgator’s baby plan. I put all my non-commerce clients there and have never had a problem with uptime or customer service. 100% recommend them.

Now, assuming you have your site all set-up. Here are the first 5 things I do with a brand new site.

  1. Get rid of stuff. In the upper right hand corner you’ll see a tab called “Screen Options.” Play with that on the dashboard and the post page. That will get lots of distracting, confusing options out of the way. If my client is a total newbie, I also install a plugin which actually disables everything they’ll never need called Selfish Fresh Start.
  2. Buy a theme. Yeah, I could spend hours looking for a free theme that will work. But I’m kind of over that. These days I’m buying very nice themes at Themeforest. Pick a popular one, one with lots of sales, you won’t go wrong.
  3. Get your free Google juice. Google juice is a weird term which implies that if you do things right, Google will bring search traffic to you. Set your site up on Google Webmaster tools so you can tell Google your new site is there and how frequently you update posts. It’ll look intimidating when you go there, but all you really need to do are the basic settings. Next, set up Feedburner to handle your RSS feed. It’s takes a couple of minutes but will pay dividends down the road. (Don’t worry about the other search engines. Google is 90%+ of all of my sites search referrals.)
  4. Add some plugins. Here’s what I add to all of my sites. I actually have these in a folder on my computer and just upload them all in bulk when setting up a new site. Google XML Sitemaps, (You’ll need this for #3) Jetpack, Askimet, (Comes installed automatically) Login Logo, Password Protected, and Gravity Forms. (Premium – Contact Form 7 is a decent, free alternative)
  5. Set-up 2 basic pages. Every blog should have these 2 pages. A Contact page (see the 2 form plugins above) and an About page. Why? Because as people come to your blog they might want to know more about you and / or might want to contact you. I look at a lot of blogs and you’d be surprised how hard it is to figure out how to contact the blogger or even to find a full name or where a person lives. Why write if people can’t connect with you? I don’t get it.
Full disclosure: There are 3 affiliate links in this post. Hostgator, Themeforest, and Gravity Forms. All are products I use every day. If you buy something after clicking on my links I will make a couple bucks. Upside? I’m giving you free advice.
Categories
Mac

Six new iOS apps I actually use

I’m assuming you’re already using my 3 favorite apps, Evernote, WordPress & Dropbox.

Here are sixapps I’ve started using recently that I think you should try out. 

Wunderlist (iPhone, iPad, and Mac) – I’ve finally found a to-do list app that I love! It has a nice and simple interface, reminders, and syncs with all of my devices.

Skitch (Mac, iPad) – If you ever need to do a screen capture this is your app. Easily capture, make notes, draw on the screen, and share it with whomever you need to share it with. I love the iPad app… it’s really so easy to use that it’s fun! They just got bought by Evernote, so I expect to be able to sync it to my notebooks easier soon.

ESPN Passport – (iPhone) This is a fun little app for sports nuts. If you’re watching a game, whether in the stadium or watching on TV, its allows you to talk smack with other people watching the game. It links to your ESPN account so it pulls in your profile and all of that stuff. (You can win badges and stuff like that, too) You can also share your smack talk via Facebook/Twitter. But I just like to take pictures of me and my kids at games.

Square – (iPhone, iPad) As a small business owner I sometimes have the need to swipe a credit card and charge someone on the spot. Square is drop dead easy and the credit card rates aren’t that bad if you figure in that a merchant account isn’t needed, no monthly contracts, etc. You sign-up for free, they send you a little Square reader, and you’re good to go.

Redfin – (iPhone, iPad) I’m not really in the market to buy a house but I do like to know what property in my area is going for. This app is sexy. It shows you all the houses available based on your parameters. And then it has a very simple, elegant layout to show you the properties. (And all the really important info, like taxes, schools, comps, etc.)

Editions – (iPad) An AOL app that doesn’t suck? It surprised me too! This little app is gorgeous. You tell it your news preferences and each day it goes out and aggregates all the news you want. Then it lays it out like a magazine designed just for you. It’s beautiful, too.

Bonus#1: Mustache Me (iPhone) I blame Brian Berry for this one. Instant fun. Add a mustache to any picture, share, beauty.

Bonus #2: car2go PRO (iPhone) Car2Go is a car sharing service that is taking off here in San Diego. Basically, they are these little electric cars you can rent for $.35/minute to get around town cheap. The app helps you find and reserve them… which is super easy and fun!

Categories
Web/Tech Weblogs

Reminder: Back-up your blog

This morning I woke up and my blog was down. With more than 6 years of content here that is scary.

It was a healthy reminder to me that it was time to back-up my blog. (After fixing some corrupt tables)

This is your reminder: If you haven’t backed-up your self-hosted WordPress blog lately, you need to do it.

Don’t know how?

No problem! I wrote a tutorial for you over on the McLane Creative blog.

Categories
McLane Creative

Common things I say as a creative

I love naiveté. Not being sarcastic– for reals. For a lot of ministry folks I am the first creative person they’ve tried to hire.

Here are things you may hear me say when I talk to a prospective McLane Creative client:

Yes, I will help you if I have time. No, the best stuff in life is actually not free. Yes, I will charge you even if you are in ministry. No, I don’t discount because you are in ministry… so am I. Yes, there is a difference between being available and free. No, my job isn’t to do everything for you, it’s to give you ideas. No, I will not do a proposal since you called me. Yes, I will give you an estimate for free. No, you won’t get anything from me until you pay 50% down. No, I do not believe the concept that  there are no new ideas under the sun… otherwise you wouldn’t have called me. No, I don’t understand why you think it’s OK to ask me for ideas for free. If you are going to get paid for my ideas, shouldn’t I be able to get paid to? Yes, you can call me back after you think about it.

That said– McLane Creative is growing! I now have  Adam 2.0 on my team. (aka Dave Luke Design) If you are looking for a WordPress solution for your own blog or your organization, average projects are $750 – $2000, contact me.

Here’s our latest work: The Marin Foundation (Two more sites about to launch)

Categories
social media Web/Tech

Two quick updates from McLane Creative

A fun outlet for me is building WordPress sites, consulting, and social media campaigns at McLane Creative. Since it’s a creative outlet I tend to be pretty picky with who I work with. Here are three quick slogans I use to describe my work there:

  • Guaranteed to be on budget and past deadline.
  • I tend to chose you more than you chose me.
  • I pick projects that matter to me, regardless of budget.

Interestingly, this tiny business has continued to grow through 2009-2010. And with marketing slogans like that… how could it not?

I’ve fallen into a pace where 7-8 projects per years is just about right. Any more or less and it’s just not worth it.

Two quick structural updates:

  1. I’ve moved all of my hosting from Bluehost to 6sync. More importantly, I’ve moved from a shared hosting environment which lead to some unexplained downtime and nasty malware, to a VPS environment where I’m much more in control. More on this move.
  2. I installed a client collaboration tool. The way MC works is that I build a custom team of freelancers for each project. This is an ultra efficient model of web development for the client… but the pitfall is that it requires that I manage a bunch of people working together for the first time over and over again. The new client area (powered by Collabtive) centralizes the teams communication with the client. More on this move.
Categories
Web/Tech

WordPress 3.0

https://videopress.com/v/wp-content/plugins/video/flvplayer.swf?ver=1.21

Any time any type of software goes from one version number to the next, it is significant. WordPress 3.0 brings a few interesting highlights.

  • Theme improvements. (You’ll get better themes as a result)
  • Menu improvements. (Made it easier to add dropdowns)
  • Multi-user, multi-blog administration built in
  • Some cool dashboard improvements, highlighted in the video. Now I can make WordPress act more like a CMS.
  • Even easier to update WordPress software and plug-ins
  • McLane Creative customers: You shouldn’t have any problems with the upgrade. All of the templates/sites I have out there are compliant and should upgrade just fine. To upgrade, open up your dashboard and click the “Upgrade to WordPress 3.0” link at the top of the screen.

    If there are any problems, let me know.

    If you have a WordPress stand-alone blog, I highly suggest upgrading immediately. With more than 1200 bug fixes, there is bound to be a security issue in there you’ll want cleaned up.

    Categories
    Web/Tech

    RSS Fixed

    Thanks to Andrea and a few others who mentioned to me that my RSS was messed up on my blog.

    It took a little messing around but I found the problem. Yes, it was tied to the hack that occurred earlier in May.

    Literally, three characters in a line of code. Story of my life!

    If you’d like to subscribe to my blog via RSS please click here.

    I also heard that some users may have problems leaving a comment. (Something about creating an account at Yahoo! Trust me, I’m a Google guy, I’d never make you do that.)

    If you are on a Windows computer or a Mac Firefox user, please press F5 to clear the cache on your computer/browser for this site. If that doesn’t clear it up, please send me an email at mclanea@gmail.com so I can help.

    Categories
    Weblogs

    Quick site update

    Photo by ElitePete via Flickr (creative commons)

    As many people noted, yesterday my site(s) suffered a pretty ugly malware attack. For Mac users this was pretty benign and transparent, but for PC users the site(s) had a weird pop-up thing that tried to redirect you to another site.

    My sincere apologies to anyone who may have had problems.

    I still have no clue how my sites were hacked or for what purpose. Since tens of thousands of other sites were hacked at the same time it seems as though someone just sought to disrupt and exploit the internet in general instead of specific sites. There is a hypothesis that the sites were infected at the server level, meaning they wouldn’t have attacked me personally, just any site on a shared server.

    I maintain my WordPress sites in the recommended way. All of my WordPress sites are running the latest version, 2.9.2. All of my plug-ins are updated. All of my passwords are “strong.” In other words, I’ve done everything possible to prevent something like this from happening.

    All that to say, I’m back to normal. (Or as normal as I get) And thanks for your patience.

    If you want to read about the nasty bug my sites had, the solution, and the discussion, here are some links:

  • WordPress 2.9.2 hacked
  • Simple clean-up for latest WordPress hack
  • WordPress hacked with Zettapetta
  • Thank you to the amazing WordPress community and especially David at Sucuri.net for writing some code to fix the problem.

    Categories
    Weblogs

    New Template @ adammclane.com

    new2If you are an RSS subscriber to the blog you’ll want to come check out the site. Tonight I put in a new theme. It’s a look that I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks now. The truth of the matter is that I really wanted to make some changes to some of my production sites, but Patti wouldn’t let me. 🙂 So I took it out on my blog!

    Also new to the blog is the monster. My byline is “Crazy enough to want to change the world” and my monster is crazy. If you have a suggested name for the monster please leave a comment! Otherwise, I’d really like to hear reader feedback. As always, you can leave a comment or email mclanea@gmail.com.

    Categories
    Web/Tech

    Goodbye Typepad, Hello WordPress

    wordpressI’ve struggled with this for the last few weeks. But I finally came to the conclusion that I could no longer be a WordPress evangelist without being a WordPress blogger.

    So, as of this post I am now fully converted. Tonight I was able to transfer everything from adammclane.typepad.com to plain old adammclane.com.

    I know this is a nightmare for my readers. If you have me bookmarked I am sorry but you will have to re-bookmark me.  I really did try to make it work over on Typepad… but at the end of the day I just couldn’t justify it anymore.

    I’m hoping that everything on the feed worked OK and that those of you who read my blog via your favorite blog reader won’t even notice. Let’s hope that is the case.

    I’ve also added a whole new enchilada with the transfer to this new site. I was able to go back and pull my archives over from a blog I kept from May 2004 – November 2005.  I’m not sure how I feel about that but… there it is, all of me. My earlier versions of blogging from 2002-2004 seem to be a distant memory, so sorry to say those posts are gone. But now you have over 42 months of Adam to check out.

    Missing Pictures – Yes, I’ll have to sort that out. I don’t know if I’ll have an album per se and I know that a lot of my posts are not photo-less. It’s a bummer.

    Not thrilled with my theme – It’s a start. Expect me to play for a while.

    There are loads of other things to sort out. But… a fresh start is always fun.