One Step at a Time

Too often I get caught up in lofty goals which are impossible to achieve. I set the bar so high that I give up before taking a single step (I know, I’m mixing metaphors left and right). On top of that, I spend way too much time consuming and not enough time producing. I’m addicted to Google Reader. I have too many subscriptions. I can’t tell you how many amazing tutorials and articles I’ve read, bookmarked and stored for later, that I’ve never come back to. What good is that information? Well instead of storing that knowledge up like a chipmunk, I’m going to start producing again.

I’m going to plan less, or at least plan for shorter and smaller goals. I want to be proactive and not plan so far ahead that I never reach my goals. Really my checklist is very simple. Every day I want to learn something, build something, and write something. I’m hoping each one leads to the next. We’ll see how I do.

Learning Object Oriented Javascript

I’ve never considered myself a programmer. Developer yes, coder, sure, but not a programmer by any means. Although I took some computer science classes in college, I never learned the basic tenets of programming and instead always learned just enough to get by. Focusing on HTML, CSS, and jQuery has always been enough. With my new position at Incisent, I’ve had to dive into the deep end of some very complicated, custom Javascript. This code has huge custom classes, uses Underscore, fastFrag, and Lawnchair (three JS libraries I’d never heard of). Although it’s easy to fix bugs, given enough time, adding new features the “right way” requires a bit more knowledge.

A few weeks ago I saw this post: learning object oriented Javascript in 15 minutes or less and I knew I needed to walk through it. So I finally did. The best thing about this is that it was short. Like the title says, it took less than 15 minutes and I was able to understand some concepts that were always at the edge of my knowledge. So it was definitely successful.

From there, in the comments, someone linked to this short collection of OO JS articles. These obviously go more in depth and are helping to take my knowledge to the next level. Armed with this new information and I’m starting to really enjoy the challenges at work and I hope to apply what I’ve learned for some of my own after hours projects.

Blogging 101: How to Setup WordPress

Time to get started!

Okay, hopefully after reading my last Blogging 101 post, you have a set of keywords to target, have picked the best revenue channels to monetize your blog, and maybe even written a couple articles. All that’s missing is an actual website. There are dozens of platforms you could build your blog on, from WordPress.com, to Blogger, to self-hosting a Drupal, Joomla, or ExpressionEngine install. If you want to make money from your blog, DO NOT USE WordPress.com (.org is the self-hosted download). Here’s why:

Adsense, Yahoo, Chitika, TextLinkAds and other ads are not allowed on free WordPress.com blogs… In addition to AdSense-type ads, please do not use the following services on your blog: sponsored / paid posts including PayPerPost, ReviewMe, and Smorty; affiliate / referral links to the following domains: usercash, clickbank, clickhop, cashrocks, payingcash; clicktrackers (and any similar) and any promotion of the “I made a million on the internet and so can you” type of advertising (i.e. MLM, network marketing, cash gifting, etc.). Paid or sponsored post content is also prohibited.

From: http://en.support.wordpress.com/advertising/

I can’t speak for Blogger or other services, but I imagine their terms are the same. Even if the don’t prohibit ads now, it doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. By chaining yourself to a service, you’ll have to abide by their rules as long as you keep using their service. You will also be limited in which plugins you can install. Transferring to your own host isn’t impossible, but it can be a lot of work to update your URLs and any images you’ve uploaded. Skip the regrets by learning how to setup your own domain and hosting.

Ultimately the best and most recommended solution is a self-hosted WordPress site. The benefits of WordPress are many: 5 minute install, easy to use control panel, thousands of themes, plugins and tutorials. Trust me, unless you’re an expert web developer, and even if you are, you’ll be stepping into the wild if you build your blog on anything BUT WordPress.

Okay, so, WordPress. What now?

1. Get a domain, through something like Namecheap and get some hosting. There are lots of reliable hosts with dirt cheap pricing. You do not need to pay a premium for hosting. I wouldn’t spend more than $10/month and that might be pushing it. Personally I like Lithium, but I’ve also used apis networks and they were fine. Whichever you pick, start with the lowest price and work your way up as you need more bandwidth.

2. Install WordPress, theme, plugins, and setup your pages and initial posts. Here’s a list of recommended plugins. At the very least I suggest installing WordPress SEO (by Yoast) or anything that lets you set meta values and create an XML sitemap.

3. Setup Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, register your sitemap with Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

What’s the best theme?

There is no best theme. There are literally thousands of very good choices and as long as you are in control of your sitemaps, your heading tags, and your URLs, it will be hard to go wrong. I would always suggest you pay for a theme from a reputable site like ThemeForestMojo Themes, or Woothemes and not by Googling “free WordPress theme”. Why? Because half the time (or more) those “free” themes have hidden backlinks or other malicious code. Not to mention the quality of the design will almost always be lower and your blog will look like a cookie cutter, spammy blog.

A professional, well designed theme typically runs $35. I always count this cost as part of the required blog investment along with domain name and hosting. Don’t skimp.

If you want a more detailed guide on how to setup everything for WordPress, including detail on most of the steps I’ve outline above, I highly recommend this post: A Comprehensive Checklist To Creating The Perfect WordPress Website