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May 2010

Top Ways to Use URL Shorteners & Why to Use Them!

Author:

Everyone who is on Twitter knows about URL Shorteners. When you tweet, your goal is to pack as much info into that 140 characters as possible, so why would you want to waste it on a lengthy URL? Many websites and blogs have put together a naming process that includes the title of their article (to assist with SEO), but that could very well take up more than your available space to Tweet! So, although URL shorteners were around before Twitter and other social media websites, they now became a necessity. It’s pretty much standard that you’re not going to see a full website URL when you glance at your Twitter stream.

But are they good for anything else? Absolutely. Whether you prefer bit.ly or tinyurl or even the new goo.gl shorteners, they have other uses than paring down your characters for social networking – although that’s still the way that most of us will use them!

Top Ways to Use URL Shorteners:

  • Customize Your Extension:
    Many of the URL shorteners allow you to choose your own extension (assuming it is still available) in place of the random string of characters. If it’s something that you want your users to easily remember, or if it is a URL you will be using frequently (home page of your blog perhaps?) – try to obtain that quickly.

    [Shorteners That Allow Customization: bit.ly, tr.im, cli.gs, snurl, budURL, tinyURL, Doiop]
  • Compile and Track Data:
    Several of the URL shorteners track data for you! You can gather the amount of times your URL has been clicked, geographic location, inbound links, and more. This gives you additional information than just seeing referring links from Twitter on your Google Analytics.

    [Shorteners That Track Data: bit.ly, tr.im, cli.gs, snurl, budURL, kl.am, zi.ma]
  • Get Promoted:
    Some of the URL Shorteners actually promote the top clicked links – so you could get some free visitors and readers to your website! It’s not a given, but could be beneficial all the same.

    [Shorteners That Promote Links: bit.ly (popular links on Twitter), kl.am (popular links on their website), Snurl (shows interesting ones on Browse Snips)]

What is your favorite URL Shortener?

Top 5 WordPress Photo Gallery Plugins:

Author:

I think its important to have some visual aspect on your blog posts – whether it’s a photo, photo gallery, or video. But what do you do if you want to share a ton of images? The last thing you want is a running stream of photos down the page – it’s hard to navigate and takes too much time to load your post. You could use thumbnails, or the standard WordPress gallery – or you can implement a plugin that will take your photo gallery experience to an entirely new level!

Here are my top 5 WordPress Photo Gallery Plugins:

Featured Content Gallery Image

Featured Content Gallery Plugin
FCG is a very popular plugin, allowing you a wealth of options in your image display. Choose your images and display categories, pages or posts with custom overlay text and a thumbnail carousel. Custom options include gallery size, color, style and more.

Flickr RSS

This plugin allows you to easily display Flickr photos on your site via a customizable option panel. It supports user, set, favorite, group and community photostreams.

Lightbox 2
One of my favorite plugins for visual appeal, Lightbox allows you to visually expand your image and gallery over the existing page. Use this tool to customize the effects used on photos that you include in your blog, including background color, opacity and more.

NextGen – This plugin comes with a variety of options – including the ability to add watermarks to your photos, create slideshows, add photos to your sidebar, and more.

Page Flip Image Gallery
Create a gallery with page flipping effects for a more catalog feel to your gallery.

Do you use any fancy plugins for your image galleries?

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Image Credit: Featured Content Gallery

What to Do Before & After Changing Your WordPress Theme

Author:

Times change, preferences change, and blogs change. It’s such an easy thing to do, right? You just flip a switch in your WordPress admin and *poof* you have a new look! With all the amazing designs, I’m the first to admit that it’s hard to pick only one. Whether you are changing it for the first time or the fiftieth time – there are several steps to follow before and after implementing your theme change:

Before Changing Your WordPress Theme:

  • Backup Your Current Theme
    Just in case you edit your old theme, or pull items from it, you want to keep a backup in case you need to revert!

  • Revisit Your Categories & Pages
    In changing to a new theme, be careful of where the Categories and Pages list. If you are moving from a side navigation to a top navigation, you may need to pare down your category list and their titles in order to make it fit. Now is the time to make those changes, not after implementing the new theme.

  • Save Your Code
    Before I disable one theme, I typically create a document with all of my ad code, Adsense code, etc. I can then grab them and add them into the new theme in the appropriate locations.

  • Disable Your Plugins
    Not all plugins work well with all themes. In order to avoid chaos, your best bet is to disable all your plugins as you swap out the theme, and then add each one in slowly (testing your blog for errors).

After Changing Your WordPress Theme:

  • Check the Design and Broken Links
    Make sure that your Categories and Pages look appropriate and are all functional. Bounce around the site and make sure all of your links are in tact. Test the appearance of your blog in various browsers for consistency.

  • Check Your Sidebar
    Most themes come with a blogroll and links. You will want to edit these out and add your own.

  • Check Your RSS Feed
    Sometimes your RSS feed will get wonky. Test it out by subscribing to your blog and seeing how it comes across.

  • Add Your Analytics Code
    You will need to go back in and add your analytics code to the footer (or other section) of your theme.

  • Add Your Adsense Code/Ads
    You may need to edit your index and single page files if you embedded ads, affiliates, or Adsense code between your posts. This holds true for the sidebar, header, and footer as well. You may need to change the colors of your code to match with the new theme.

  • Enable Your Plugins
    Evaluate your plugins and enable the ones that are still necessary for your blog to look and run the way you want it to!

What about you? Do you have any tips for installing a new theme?

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

What to Do Before & After Changing Your WordPress Theme

Author:

Times change, preferences change, and blogs change. It’s such an easy thing to do, right? You just flip a switch in your WordPress admin and *poof* you have a new look! With all the amazing designs, I’m the first to admit that it’s hard to pick only one. Whether you are changing it for the first time or the fiftieth time – there are several steps to follow before and after implementing your theme change:

Before Changing Your WordPress Theme:

  • Backup Your Current Theme
    Just in case you edit your old theme, or pull items from it, you want to keep a backup in case you need to revert!

  • Revisit Your Categories & Pages
    In changing to a new theme, be careful of where the Categories and Pages list. If you are moving from a side navigation to a top navigation, you may need to pare down your category list and their titles in order to make it fit. Now is the time to make those changes, not after implementing the new theme.

  • Save Your Code
    Before I disable one theme, I typically create a document with all of my ad code, Adsense code, etc. I can then grab them and add them into the new theme in the appropriate locations.

  • Disable Your Plugins
    Not all plugins work well with all themes. In order to avoid chaos, your best bet is to disable all your plugins as you swap out the theme, and then add each one in slowly (testing your blog for errors).

After Changing Your WordPress Theme:

  • Check the Design and Broken Links
    Make sure that your Categories and Pages look appropriate and are all functional. Bounce around the site and make sure all of your links are in tact. Test the appearance of your blog in various browsers for consistency.

  • Check Your Sidebar
    Most themes come with a blogroll and links. You will want to edit these out and add your own.

  • Check Your RSS Feed
    Sometimes your RSS feed will get wonky. Test it out by subscribing to your blog and seeing how it comes across.

  • Add Your Analytics Code
    You will need to go back in and add your analytics code to the footer (or other section) of your theme.

  • Add Your Adsense Code/Ads
    You may need to edit your index and single page files if you embedded ads, affiliates, or Adsense code between your posts. This holds true for the sidebar, header, and footer as well. You may need to change the colors of your code to match with the new theme.

  • Enable Your Plugins
    Evaluate your plugins and enable the ones that are still necessary for your blog to look and run the way you want it to!

What about you? Do you have any tips for installing a new theme?

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

10 Must-Have Pages and Why Your Blog Needs Them

Author:
Shirley George Frazier

Today’s online environment requires more care and feeding for your blog than you may realize. Here are 10 suggested blog pages to add and reasons for each to boost followers, revenue, and security.

  1. Start Here.
    Let readers know, through a link and short description, which posts include basic explanations about your topic or industry.

  2. Why Subscribe?
    Explain to readers what they’ll miss if they don’t receive Email updates, which includes breaking news, money-making strategies, and problem-solving tips. This page also serves to increase RSS subscribers, a highly-relevant task if planning to offer sponsorship opportunities.

  3. How to Advertise.
    Marketers search for your unique audience to promote their products, so satisfy them with a page explaining your blog’s inception, its mission, update frequency, and rates. As an alternative, guard against competitive surveillance by providing an overview and detailing how to contact you.

  4. Speaking Topics.
    Extend an open invitation to readers who wish to contract you for keynote speeches, seminars, workshops, and other events. This page is different than the Contact page (explained below), as its purpose is to promote your expertise and let visitors know about presentation availability.

  5. Newsletter.
    Extend your readership to visitors who want to receive an online publication that complements the blog. If a newsletter is important but you don’t know what to write, start by sharing links from past posts highly rated by tweets and comments.

  6. Interviews.
    Your recorded radio show appearances and guest postings on other Web sites and blogs will be of interest to anyone who follows your topic, so create a page that links all of your recordings in one place.

  7. Videos.
    Got how-to ideas? Add a maximum of five YouTube-type visuals onto this page. Also, include a link to your video website or YouTube account if more videos are available elsewhere.

  8. About.
    Enlighten visitors on this page with your personality, telling them why you started the blog and sharing compelling reasons for reading and bookmarking it.

  9. Contact.
    How easily can readers connect with you for information they prefer not to ask online? Be sure this page includes your Email address and/or telephone number.

  10. Disclaimer.
    In this disclosure-conscious world, conditions that govern access are mandatory. Provide a brief explanation about the blog’s ownership, potential broken links due to natural aging, and your liability regarding visitors’ comments.

Which of these pages do you intend to include on your blog right now?

Shirley George Frazier is chief marketer at SoloBusinessMarketing.com and author of Marketing Strategies for the Home-Based Business: Solutions You Can Use Today. Read Shirley’s Solo Business Marketing blog, and follow her on Twitter @ShirleyFrazier or Email info@solobusinessmarketing.com.

Blogging From My iPhone – My First Attempt at Mobile Blogging

Author:

I don’t know why, but I’ve never tried to mobile blog before. Actually there are probably a variety of reasons … I’m not a texter by nature, I mispell way too many words when I type in my phone (thank goodness for auto-correct), and I type much faster on the computer.

But there are other reasons too. In my past life as a blogger, I covered entertainment topics. This required me to upload celebrity images from other websites, embed videos, etc. Not easily done from a mobile device! Of course there are times, like when I was doing a red carpet event, that it would have been handy to whip out my phone, snag a picture, and upload it with an interview clip to my site. (Like when Peter Facinelli tweeted from my phone at the MTV Movie Awards last year. The picture below is from my camera – so I can test the photo upload aspect of mobile blogging!)

I see THAT as the biggest perk to mobile blogging … Immediacy. I can imagine mobile blogging when it is a topic that is important to my readers and/or timely and I want to beat my competition. The only other time I can see myself doing this is if I’m away from my desk and want to get a post started.

And so perhaps that is how I will use it in the future – but I can’t imagine using it frequently, because the drawback of mobile blogging is that I cannot format my post how I want! Where are all my HTML tags to bold and italicizes and add lists? And hotlinking? And aligning my pictures? It is going to kill me to see this post, all barren and bland. But I could see using mobile blogging if I already set up a post ahead of time (with formatting at the top) for a live blogging session, or if I wanted to start a draft and then post/edit it later.

Now that my fingers are killing me, I’m going to find out how to Publish this. In the meantime, how and why do you use mobile blogging?

Dear Gurus: Let's Talk Less and Listen More

Author:

Dear Gurus: It’s Time to Talk Less and Listen More
By Hadji Williams

It’s been about three weeks since Keith Elam, one of the most accomplished artists of my generation passed away.

As one-half of Gang Starr, Elam was truly a Gifted emcee who pioneered an ill poetic street corner philosopher’s eloquence not yet heard prior. Between his Gang Starr catalog and his groundbreaking Jazzmatazz work, he proved to source of seemingly Unlimited Rhymes. And his willingness to discuss everything from the writing process to manhood to parenthood to politics to crime made his lyrics truly Universal.

Looking back, April 19, 2010 saw the passing of perhaps the only non-east Indian who could rightfully call himself a guru with a straight face. Elam’s death also got me thinking about all the other so-called gurus out here…

A while back I met a guy who’d penned the definitive book on Twitter. I know it was the definitive book on Twitter because he said so. And so had his publisher. Now the guy admitted to never having worked for Twitter. To my knowledge he didn’t even know anyone who did. He hadn’t even been using Twitter very long himself. But no matter.

He had a book, a title, and full schedule of speaking gigs and media appearances to validate his self-inflicted gurudom.

Now, the easiest thing would be to insult, slander folks like this. That’d be the one-off sureshot that would garner plenty of RTs, comments, and e-daps. But instead, I wanna try something different, beginning with a question:

What if all the gurus, particularly those of us in marketing, PR and social media, just said—out loud:

“I don’t know.”

Continue Reading

Dear Gurus: Let’s Talk Less and Listen More

Author:

Dear Gurus: It’s Time to Talk Less and Listen More
By Hadji Williams

It’s been about three weeks since Keith Elam, one of the most accomplished artists of my generation passed away.

As one-half of Gang Starr, Elam was truly a Gifted emcee who pioneered an ill poetic street corner philosopher’s eloquence not yet heard prior. Between his Gang Starr catalog and his groundbreaking Jazzmatazz work, he proved to source of seemingly Unlimited Rhymes. And his willingness to discuss everything from the writing process to manhood to parenthood to politics to crime made his lyrics truly Universal.

Looking back, April 19, 2010 saw the passing of perhaps the only non-east Indian who could rightfully call himself a guru with a straight face. Elam’s death also got me thinking about all the other so-called gurus out here…

A while back I met a guy who’d penned the definitive book on Twitter. I know it was the definitive book on Twitter because he said so. And so had his publisher. Now the guy admitted to never having worked for Twitter. To my knowledge he didn’t even know anyone who did. He hadn’t even been using Twitter very long himself. But no matter.

He had a book, a title, and full schedule of speaking gigs and media appearances to validate his self-inflicted gurudom.

Now, the easiest thing would be to insult, slander folks like this. That’d be the one-off sureshot that would garner plenty of RTs, comments, and e-daps. But instead, I wanna try something different, beginning with a question:

What if all the gurus, particularly those of us in marketing, PR and social media, just said—out loud:

“I don’t know.”

Continue Reading

Poll: Should There Be "Gadget Free" Sessions at BlogWorld?

Author:

After a member of the  BlogWorld Facebook page posted a seemingly innocent comment about having a session at BlogWorld discussing multi-tasking during a gadget free session, the little hamster in my head began spinning her wheel.

A session at BlogWorld where no one’s allowed to use cell phones, laptops or netbooks? Would the BlogWorld community go for it? What if we offered speakers the option of having a gadget free zone, how would that go over?

I took it to the BlogWorld community and received a surprising result: 30 comments so far, most in support of a gadget free zone.

Last week I wrote a post for my own blog called “(Mis)Communication in the Social Media Age” which discussed how we’re so busy being connected that we’re moving from the Information Age into the Too Much Information Age. I wonder, are we so busy connecting with the online world that we’re disconnecting from what’s happening in real life?  Sometimes I miss the good old days when ignorance was bliss.

The comments on our Facebook discussion made me realize I’m not alone in my thinking.

The initial discussion has led to an internal BlogWorld discussion. Should we have gadget free session?

Put the paper bag down and stop hyperventilating. We’re not talking about making the entire conference gadget free, after all, we also revel in our geekery. But wouldn’t it be an interesting experiment to have a few sessions at BlogWorld where we had to check our electronics at the door, focus our entire attention on the real world conversation, and not break our focus to Tweet quotes or check our email?

We’d like for you to take a poll. Tell us your thoughts about gadget free sessions and if they belong at BlogWorld.

Could you disconnect for an hour? Would you go through withdrawal? As a speaker, would you prefer an online session? Take our poll and let us know what you think!

Image: Brandon Eley

Deb Ng is Conference Director for BlogWorld and Founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs network. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @debng,

Poll: Should There Be “Gadget Free” Sessions at BlogWorld?

Author:

After a member of the  BlogWorld Facebook page posted a seemingly innocent comment about having a session at BlogWorld discussing multi-tasking during a gadget free session, the little hamster in my head began spinning her wheel.

A session at BlogWorld where no one’s allowed to use cell phones, laptops or netbooks? Would the BlogWorld community go for it? What if we offered speakers the option of having a gadget free zone, how would that go over?

I took it to the BlogWorld community and received a surprising result: 30 comments so far, most in support of a gadget free zone.

Last week I wrote a post for my own blog called “(Mis)Communication in the Social Media Age” which discussed how we’re so busy being connected that we’re moving from the Information Age into the Too Much Information Age. I wonder, are we so busy connecting with the online world that we’re disconnecting from what’s happening in real life?  Sometimes I miss the good old days when ignorance was bliss.

The comments on our Facebook discussion made me realize I’m not alone in my thinking.

The initial discussion has led to an internal BlogWorld discussion. Should we have gadget free session?

Put the paper bag down and stop hyperventilating. We’re not talking about making the entire conference gadget free, after all, we also revel in our geekery. But wouldn’t it be an interesting experiment to have a few sessions at BlogWorld where we had to check our electronics at the door, focus our entire attention on the real world conversation, and not break our focus to Tweet quotes or check our email?

We’d like for you to take a poll. Tell us your thoughts about gadget free sessions and if they belong at BlogWorld.

Could you disconnect for an hour? Would you go through withdrawal? As a speaker, would you prefer an online session? Take our poll and let us know what you think!

Image: Brandon Eley

Deb Ng is Conference Director for BlogWorld and Founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs network. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @debng,

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