Eric Odom http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom Blogging Tips, Tricks and Industry News for ConservaBlog Bloggers Sun, 21 Jan 2007 21:59:30 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.0.5 en Looking for a Wordpress theme to give your blog a new feel? http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2007/01/21/looking-for-a-wordpress-them-to-give-your-blog-a-new-look/ http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2007/01/21/looking-for-a-wordpress-them-to-give-your-blog-a-new-look/#comments Sun, 21 Jan 2007 21:58:49 +0000 Eric General Wordpress Themes Wordpress Tips Blogging Tools Blogging Tips http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2007/01/21/looking-for-a-wordpress-them-to-give-your-blog-a-new-look/ A few years back you would be out of luck if you didn’t know how to code and needed a good look for your blog, but now that Wordpress has moved into the top ranks of blogging software, developers are lining up to create new themes for the public masses. The following is a list of places you can go to find new Wordpress themes to use on your ConservaBlog.

The Official Wordpress Theme Site
This is probably the most common place to find a template. Wordpress, being open source and community driven, allows users to upload templates they design so that anyone using Wordpress can download them and use them on their blogs.

Personally, I find the Wordpress theme site difficult to use because its search and sorting feature doesn’t do a whole lot of good. That being said, there are still TONS of themes there and if you have time to sift through them you’ll more than likely find something that fits your taste.

Alex King Theme Directory
Alex King has long been praised for his list of Wordpress themes. It’s an extensive list, but you’ll probably want to use the theme viewer so you can see what a theme actually looks like before getting more information.

BloggingPro
This is my favorite hot spot for Wordpress themes. BloggingPro has a constant watch on the theme industry and has posted some of the cleanest and most desirable themes that can be found on the internet.

This list should help you get started in finding a new theme for your blog. Keep in mind that in order to get the theme to your blog admin/control panel, you’ll need to use an ftp client to upload the files to our server. If you are not familiar with ftp you can post a request in the support forums and we’ll upload the files for you.

-Eric Odom
ConservaBlogs.com

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ConservaBlogs Basics http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2007/01/20/conservablogs-basics/ http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2007/01/20/conservablogs-basics/#comments Sun, 21 Jan 2007 07:43:16 +0000 Eric Blogging Tips Site News http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2007/01/20/conservablogs-basics/ Bloggers from all walks of life are finding ConservaBlogs.com to be the perfect fit for a blogging home. We offer free Wordpress hosting with virtually unlimited space for posting, file hosting, and bandwidth is something we’ll continue to pump into the system as we grow. With this in mind, it’s no wonder so many folks are getting comfortable here at ConservaBlogs.com.

Now that we’re coming out of beta we’re starting to see many levels of internet skills here on our servers. Some bloggers have been doing this for years and in turn have learned the ropes of the seemingly complex code structure of Wordpress. Others are just getting started and the whole thing could be seen as a tad bit overwhelming.

If you’re new to blogging, or have never used Wordpress before, this post will be an excellent starting point to help you properly launch your blog and get off to a great start.

We’ll start with the basics.

First, when you apply for a blog here at ConservaBlogs.com, our team has to go in and manually install the software to the server. Once your blog is set up and can be found on the internet, you’ll find that everything is set to the default settings and it might temporarily seem a little messy. Fear not my friends, we’re going to walk you through it step by step.

When you receive your welcome e-mail and visit your new blog for the first time, you’ll see something like this.

New Blog

This is what you’re supposed to see. The template shown above is the default template that comes with a Wordpress install. It “should” be the template you see when you first view your blog.

Now, in the lower left you’ll see a “login” button/link. Click the link to be taken to your blogs login page.

Wordpress Login

Enter your login details. These details should be included with your welcome e-mail.

Once you login you’ll see your control/admin panel.

Wordpress Control Panel

Dashboard is the start page in your control panel. From there you can navigate to any other part of the control panel. If you wish to continue using the default theme for your blog, then you can skip this step. If you do want to look at the other templates already available for ConservaBlogs, click on the “presentation” tab/link.

You should now see images of the templates readily available in your admin panel. To pick a different theme simply click on the image of the theme you wish to use. If the theme changed, you’ll see a message saying the change was completed.

Your new theme is installed and you can begin tinkering with the options. Click on “options” and you’ll see another row of tabs open up under the main set of links/buttons in the admin panel.

The best way to become familiar with the available options is to surf around in the different tabs available under the options menu. Remember, changes only take place if you click the “save” button, so don’t worry about messing something up while you have a look around.

The following is a list of the most common changes made to new blogs before posting begins.

1) General Options
Under the general options menu, you’ll see a list of items you can change.
-Weblog Title
This is the title of your blog and it displays at the top of every page in your site. This is also the title that will show up in search engines, as well as in the top of your browser. Feel free to change this at anytime, but keep in mind that search engines don’t really like a lot of changes to site titles. It’s probably a good idea to pick a title right up front and try to stick with that title for as long as possible.
-Tagline
This is the brief description, or “catch phrase” that will appear below the title of your blog at the top of every page. You can leave this blank if you don’t have anything to put there, but it is recommended that you try and put something there. A good tip is to try and use this to tell your readers what your blog is about in a few words.
-Wordpress address (URI) and Blog address (URI)
Please leave this as is.
-Membership
This is completely up to you, but it is a good idea to NOT require people to log in for commenting. The reason is that not all visitors and readers will be willing to take the extra step of logging in to comment on your blog.
-UTC time
The default setting for time will more than likely be off for bloggers located in the US. You’ll need to change this so that your posts appear at the time that is local to you. In my case, I live in Nevada so I’m in Pacific Coast Time Zone. This means I need to change the time by -8 hours so that it reflects the time zone that I live in.

Once you have your desired settings in place, click “update options”. This will save your changes.

The rest of the options menu is fairly basic and self explanatory. There are a few other options worth a short mention. One being under the “Writing” tab and reads “Users should use the visual rich editor by default”. This is checked by default, however, I personally prefer to not use the visually rich editor because it isn’t friendly to a lot of formats when pasting text. The simple editor will make posting a much quicker process.

The second option that needs a change is highly recommended. In fact, we encourage you to take this step and ask that all bloggers in the network make this change before posting begins.

Under “permalinks” you’ll see that by default the “http://conservablogs.com/joeenge/?p=123″ option is checked. This needs to be changed to the “http://conservablogs.com/joeenge/2007/01/21/sample-post/” option because search engines seem to give more credit to a page URL/domain ends in words that match the title of the page as opposed to a page URL/domain that ends in numbers and symbols.

Making the change to your permalink structure benefits the entire ConservaBlog community. It’s important that we all make the update so that as one site we begin ranking well in the search engines.

The rest of the admin/control panel is quite simple to get a feel for once you’ve spent a little time exploring the different pages and options.

Hopefully this post will help you get set up and ready to blog. If you have any other questions feel free to post in the ConservaBlogs forums.

-Eric Odom
ConservaBlogs.com

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Firefox Extension: Fire ftp http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2007/01/10/firefox-extension-fire-ftp/ http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2007/01/10/firefox-extension-fire-ftp/#comments Wed, 10 Jan 2007 22:12:25 +0000 Eric Blogging Tools Firefox http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2007/01/10/firefox-extension-fire-ftp/ Last night I received a copy of an e-mail conversation between Crystal and one of the ConservaBloggers. The blogger was on the hunt for a way to use ftp to get files to his hosting account and didn’t quite know where to start.

Here at ConservaBlogs we use a specific plugin for Firefox to handle all of our ftp needs. The extension, Fire ftp, is arguably one of the easiest to use ftp clients available via open source.

Fire ftp

First, in order to use this you’ll need to scrap that crappy Internet Explorer browser and pick up the free browser, Firefox. Then go to the plugin page and download the Firefox extension.

You’ll love it!

-Eric

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Wordpress Plugin: Social Bookmarks http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2007/01/03/wordpress-plugin-social-bookmarks/ http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2007/01/03/wordpress-plugin-social-bookmarks/#comments Wed, 03 Jan 2007 18:11:36 +0000 Eric Blogging Tools Blogging Tips Social Networking http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2007/01/03/wordpress-plugin-social-bookmarks/ Warner Todd Huston of Publius Forum just installed the Social Bookmarks plugin on his blog so I decided I would go ahead and post about it in case anyone else was interested.

The Social Bookmarks plugin for Wordpress is one of my favorite plugins and I use it on a good 50% of the blogs I run. Basically, the plugin places image links to all the major social networking sites at the bottom of every post or page of your blog. This allows any reader to click the image and submit your story to the social networking sites. It’s a great way to get your stories published on other sites, and if you make it to the front page of one of these sites, you’ll find up to 10,000 visits within a few hours.

You can see the plugin in action here.

Social Bookmarks (formerly known as Social Bar) is a WordPress plugin that adds a list of XHTML compliant graphic links at the end of your posts that allow your visitors to easily submit them in a number of different social bookmarking sites. You can see the plugin in action at the end of the article (just before the comments section). Furthermore, the plugin adds a page in the WordPress admin section that lets you customize it.

This plugin is free and available to all ConservaBloggers.

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Using Directories for Backlinks http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2007/01/02/using-directories-for-backlinks/ http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2007/01/02/using-directories-for-backlinks/#comments Tue, 02 Jan 2007 09:30:31 +0000 Eric General Blog Marketing SEO http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2007/01/02/using-directories-for-backlinks/ I belong to a private mailing list that sends out daily tips and hints for search engine optimization. While I find most of the techniques discussed to be morally bankrupt, it’s always fascinating to read what the latest cheats and hacks for search engines are.

Today a quick blurb about directories dropped in and I find it quite intriguing. The e-mail mentioned the use of web directories, such as the famous Site Sift directory, for the purpose of creating backlinks that can boost search engine rankings.

Using web directories for link bait is old news, but I thought Google had taken preventative measures to ensure these kinds of links were devalued in an attempt to cut back on spam? According to this particular e-mail, web directories still play a valuable role in SEO.

I guess black hat SEO is still OK with Google. Shame isn’t it?

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8 Tips On Making The Front Page Of Digg http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2006/12/18/8-tips-on-making-the-front-page-of-digg/ http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2006/12/18/8-tips-on-making-the-front-page-of-digg/#comments Mon, 18 Dec 2006 10:26:44 +0000 Eric General Blogging Tips Blog Marketing Social Networking http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2006/12/18/8-tips-on-making-the-front-page-of-digg/ I personally have made it to the front page with two stories, so I understand what the wave of traffic and attention feels like once you’re there. I also now understand what all the fuss is about, thanks to having one of my blogs crash in the middle of the day. The traffic Digg can shoot to any URL should have anyone who tracks this sort of thing drooling on their shoes.

Making the Digg homepage is no easy feat. The community is bulging with new users and user “clubs” that bounce around looking for stories to Digg. You can rest assured knowing that the chances are pretty good you won’t be hitting the front page anytime soon. Unless of course, you find a groove.

How do you find that groove? Well, very few people know the true formula for Digg.com, but there are some proven tips that seem to hold sound logic. One of the best lists of tips I’ve found to date was posted over at SEO Egghead.

Read the list of 8 ways to get your story Dugg.

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Conservative Blogosphere Growing http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2006/12/17/conservative-blogosphere-growing/ http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2006/12/17/conservative-blogosphere-growing/#comments Mon, 18 Dec 2006 04:04:13 +0000 Eric General BlogoSphere http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2006/12/17/conservative-blogosphere-growing/ Well, this is the third day in a row that I’ve seen ten or more Google alerts for “new conservative blog” come into my Gmail inbox. The news gets even better! Each one of the alerts actually led to solid blogs being launched in some very Liberal parts of the country.

We’re starting to see a lot of right leaning blog networks come in to play and a lot more opinion writers are getting online. I truly believe that 2008 is going to be covered by the blogosphere in numbers we can’t yet grasp.

Anyone else excited?

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Blogger Import Problem http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2006/12/17/blogger-import-problem/ http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2006/12/17/blogger-import-problem/#comments Mon, 18 Dec 2006 03:51:55 +0000 Eric General Site News Wordpress Bugs http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2006/12/17/blogger-import-problem/ Earlier today it was discovered by one of our bloggers that Wordpress is having issues importing from blogger. Publius Forum attempted an import from his Blogger blog and it looks like Blogger has server issues that cause timeouts when uploading post content into Wordpress. When the posts that did make it to Wordpress finally came in, the archives were completely wrecked and posts were stuffed into months and dates that were not at all anywhere close to accurate.

I haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact cause of the problem, but from what I can find it looks like an XML/Wordpress Script/Blogger Server combination that somehow isn’t working together during the import. I found a comment in Wordpress support that said if you disable your XML/Feed in Blogger before the import you’ll have more luck.

We ran two tests on this today and both of ours went through fine. But it was clear that the import failed when Warner Todd Huston attempted it. In fact, it even took out his template on Blogger for about a half an hour leaving his Blogger blog down during that period of time.

Until we can figure out what is going on, we ask that all bloggers using the built in import script in the Wordpress Admin panel make sure you back up your blogger template and temporarily disable your site feeds.

Hopefully this will allow Blogger posts to be imported with few or no problems to deal with.

If anyone has had dealings with this sort of issues please drop me a line ASAP.

Thanks,
Eric
eric AT conservablogs DOT com

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Hang on a tick… http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2006/12/17/hang-on-a-tick/ http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2006/12/17/hang-on-a-tick/#comments Sun, 17 Dec 2006 09:40:01 +0000 Eric General Site News http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2006/12/17/hang-on-a-tick/ I know my blog layout is currently having issues, but please know it’s only because I just got set up and still need to make time to get the template all cleaned up.

I hope to be running at 100% by Christmas Eve. I’ll be posting some between now and then, but the overall blog layout may be a bit messy.

In time…

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Tips & tricks that help you find the latest news http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2006/12/16/tips-tricks-that-help-you-find-the-latest-news/ http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2006/12/16/tips-tricks-that-help-you-find-the-latest-news/#comments Sun, 17 Dec 2006 02:24:29 +0000 Eric General Blogging Tools Blogging Tips Firefox http://conservablogs.com/EricOdom/2006/12/16/tips-tricks-that-help-you-find-the-latest-news/ In a growing blogosphere it can be difficult to try and stay ahead of the pack. Keeping up with the news is no easy task. Having the latest news tips and information is one of the best ways of making sure your blog is getting a piece of the traffic pie. With that being said, it can also be one of the most time consuming ways of growing your readership.

Fortunately for us, there are now a plethora of free tools available for the general public. These tools can make watching the news as it happens a much easier process. The following is a list of ways you can make your story finding journey a little more pleasant.

Technorati
Technorati is a massive blog search engines that combines tagging with spider crawls for a result that makes fumbling through the blogosphere an enjoyable experience. The tool allows you to search using your own keywords if you’re looking for something specific, or you can use keywords that others are using. You can also opt to search popular tags for a niche specific surfing experience.

Technorati has a full grasp of the importance of RSS and offers feeds for just about any page on the site. The results of Technorati are virtually real time, so you know you’re always getting the latest chatter.

PRWeb
PRWeb is arguably one of the biggest press release distribution services on the web. The amount of press releases that flow through the site on a daily basis is hard to fathom. With this amount of information being passed, you can guarantee you’ll be able to find news that hasn’t even hit the press yet.

Unfortunately, PRWeb is a little difficult to navigate. The categories are not well laid out and finding the right feeds for your niche can be a challenge. However, if you do find the right feeds you’re guaranteed to get the latest news at it’s released.

StumbleUpon
StumbleUpon is a concept that I think is still in its infancy stage. It’s brilliantly simple in the way it’s all laid out, but it hasn’t yet received the traffic and notoriety needed to boost it into the big leagues of social bookmarking.

The idea is basically that you have a button that allows you to surf websites that others flagged as interesting. It works similar to Digg in that the ranking ALGO is user based, but Stumble Upon works behind the scenes instead of using a website based system.

Using the FireFox plugin is the best way to go in my opinion. You can get more information and a download link here.

Digg
Well, this one is a given to be quite honest. Digg is a gold mine of information for any news junkie out there. You have to know your way around to find the good stuff, but it’s there if you’re ready to look for it.

With Digg, most users just visit the most popular links, but fail to stop in to the sub pages where the “upcoming” links can be found. This is where all of the latest news will be posted and this is where you should be.

You can also subscribe to the feeds of these pages and that takes a little leg work out of the process.

Digg for Firefox

LiveMarks
I’ve only recently started watching Live Marks but I think I’ll start working on making more visits and more often. LiveMarks is a project to show del.icio.us and other social bookmarking services in real time. It’s a new and easy way to snag stories as soon as they touch the blogosphere.

Del.icio.us
This is one of the most common social bookmarking services out there. It’s very simple in concept and the network has a ton of traffic.

You can get the Firefox plugin here.

infoRSS
infoRSS is a Firefox extension that synchronizes with Gmail and scrolls your feeds live on the status bar at the bottom of your browser window. I wrote about the plugin over here so if you need more information feel free to take a look.

Then of course you have the obvious sources like Google and Yahoo news. These are good sources, but by the time a story hits these pages it’s a given that they’re already out floating around the web.

That’s all I can think of for now. If you have any other ideas please comment and let me know. I’ll be sure and add them to the list along with a link to your site.

- Eric

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