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June 24 2013

07:00

How I Increased My Subscriber Rate by 10x Overnight

A few weeks ago I explained how I migrated my Feedburner email subscribers to a newsletter service. Since then I’ve been busy experimenting and optimising my new mailing list to continue growing my sites into the future. After implementing a couple of popular techniques I saw my daily subscribers dramatically rise from around 10 per day to a healthy 100 per day, so I thought I’d share these tips to help others grow their audience.

AWeber daily growth graph

A little background…

I own and create content for two design blogs. The first, Blog.SpoonGraphics is home to my Illustrator & Photoshop tutorials, as well as a range of inspirational showcases and free design resources. You’re reading my second blog right now here on Line25, this site has a specific focus on web design and is home to HTML/CSS tutorials and roundups of cool website designs and trends.

RSS Subscribers breakdown

As I described in my Feedburner to newsletter post, I wanted to begin growing my subscribers beyond RSS due to the demise of Google Reader and the possibility that Feedburner will follow a similar fate. I signed up with AWeber and spent many hours creating my custom email templates, which was actually one major advantage of a newsletter service as opposed to Feedburner. Customising the appearance and content of your emails not only improves the user’s experience, it also results in more click throughs and engagement in your broadcasts.

At first I just switched over my Feedburner email subscriptions signup link to an AWeber form and saw my daily subscriber rate average at up to 10 per day. It wasn’t until after I had a chat with fellow design blog owner and all round nice guy Tom Ross that I realised I could drastically improve this figure. Tom gave me some fantastic tips and techniques and after implementing them I saw that 10 subscribers per day figure rise to between 80-100 per day! If you’re looking for some email marketing consultation of your own I’d definitely give Tom a recommendation, otherwise I know he has some great projects of his own in the works, so give him a follow on Twitter to keep up to date with his online ventures.

Sign up form placement

Initially I only had a sign up form on my subscribe page, but one obvious step to increasing the number of sign ups is to put your form right in front of your users in various places on your site. I created 3 more sign up forms and placed in them in the following areas:

Sidebar signup form

Sidebar sign up form

Despite having a link for users to subscribe by email right at the top of the page, I didn’t have an actual complete signup form visible on the page. Tom recommended I revised the layout of my sidebar menu and use the prominent space for an eye catching form to greet new visitors.

End of post signup form

End of post signup form

One of the forms that has proved really effective on my sites is the placement at the end of every post. New visitors who have stumbled across your content and made it all the way to the end of the article have a high potential of wanting to stick around for more, so it makes sense to prompt them with the option of subscribing with a conveniently placed signup form.

About page signup form

About page signup form

Your about page is probably one of your least trafficked pages, but those who are browsing it have a particular interest in you, your website or your company. A strategically placed signup form slap bang in the middle of your bio is really effective to recruit those interested to receive more of your content. Despite having much lower display rates, my about page signup forms have amazing conversion figures (30x higher than the other forms!).

Free gift incentive

The additional sign up forms on my site no doubt prompted a decent number of readers to sign up, but the one technique that really boosted my daily subscriber rate was the creation of a free gift. Everyone loves freebies, and the offer of a gift to every new subscriber is enough to grab the attention of the average viewer and give them the incentive to subscribe for more. Sure, some people will sign up just to get their hands on the free goodies and have no interest in your new post notifications, but every day you’re growing your audience with people who had an interest in your site, who would have otherwise left and never returned again had it not been for the free gift hook.

Free web shadows pack gift

My Blog.SpoonGraphics site has been around since 2007 and during that time I’ve posted numerous freebies such as Photoshop brushes, textures and vectors. It would take a visitor ages to dig through the archives and download all this stuff, so I used this as an opportunity and created a bundle of my design resources as my free gift. For Line25′s free gift I was a little stuck for ideas, so I browsed the stock resources websites and gained inspiration from the most purchased items lists. Presentation is key, so I spent time mocking up the products and creating eye catching banners to tie the free gift promotion to the sign up forms.

How to set up a free gift download with AWeber

After all the hard work of creating your free gift and its promotional material the actual process of adding it to your mailing list is pretty simple, you essentially just create a special page on your site containing a download button and set this page as your mailing list’s opt-in success page.

AWeber's success page field

In AWeber, this option is found under List Settings > Confirmed Opt-In. It’s the Success Page field right at the bottom of the page. Users will be automatically sent to this page once they’ve clicked the activation link in their email.

Button wording

Split testing Download Now vs Get Email Updates

Recently I’ve been playing around with a split test of one of my signup forms. With the free gift being featured alongside the ability to receive new posts by email I wondered if there would be any difference in performance between the words “Get email updates” and “Download now!”. I expected the “Download now!” button to be more effective at attracting signups purely for the free gift, but the results were pretty extraordinary! The split test was run for around 40,000 impressions and during that time the “Download now!” button achieved 3 times more signups than the words “Get email updates”. It would be interesting if there’s any way to keep an eye on unsubscribe rates relative to each form to compare the quality of subscribers, but at the end of the day it’s 3x more people who are potentially viewing your content.

Final words

These tips are really just scratching the surface when it comes to growing an email list, but they’re all effective techniques that could be implemented by any website owner to optimise their email subscription signups. Most importantly these techniques aren’t deviant or intrusive, and help grow your mailing list with true followers who have a long and happy experience receiving your free content. While newsletter services do incur monthly fees, the ability to convert this investment into additional traffic and readership is definitely worthwhile.

May 27 2013

07:00

How to Move From Feedburner to a Newsletter Service

Things are going downhill fast for RSS. First Google shut down Feedburner’s API in 2012, then they announced the closure of Google Reader earlier this year (2013). The future isn’t looking too bright for the Feedburner service as a whole and chances are it will also be completely shut down sometime in the near future. In today’s post I’ll show you how I’ve personally prepared for doomsday and gained a bunch of new subscribers in the process by migrating from Feedburner to an email newsletter service.

The future of Feedburner

If you’re a long time blog owner you’ll likely have used Feedburner since well before it was acquired by Google. By burning your original feed with Feedburner you gained a bunch of handy features such as user friendly subscribe pages, subscriber counts & stats and the all important email delivery option. Google bought Feedburner in 2007 then shut down the API in 2012. Feedburner’s interface has remained unchanged in that time and with the recent demise of the popular Google Reader you would be wise to expect the same fate for this small niche service.

How to prepare for doomsday

Every blog will see a dip in readership after 1st July 2013 when Google Reader is officially laid to rest. Google Reader is the tool over 94% of my readers use to stay up to date with my content. Even if you publicly prompt users to switch to an alternative service such as Feedly, you can bet that a substantial proportion of your readers will be lost. We’re just going to have to take that one on the chin, but the knock out blow will come if Feedburner is shut down too. The second largest group of subscribers after Google Reader users, our Feedburner email subscribers, will then be lost too. Therefore, it makes sense to start building a reserve readership today and rescue our Feedburner email subscribers from their potential doom by creating an alternative email mailing list with a newsletter service.

To me, email newsletters seemed a little outdated compared to RSS. I personally use email for emailing and RSS for content reading, but email newsletters are still really popular and bring along some new opportunities for your blog. Here’s a few pros and cons:

Pros

  • Customise the appearance of your email updates
  • Allow users to sign up using forms on your site
  • Stay in touch with readers with follow ups & updates
  • Run much more detailed reports on delivery and readership

Cons

  • It takes a fair amount of time to set up
  • You pay a monthly fee for the service

The three big names in the email newsletter business are AWeber, MailChimp and Campaign Monitor. Comprehensive comparisons of all three can be found elsewhere on the web, but I chose AWeber for my own mailing lists.

How to migrate your Feedburner email subscribers

We already have a core bunch of subscribers who signed up to receive our content by email, so rather than start from scratch with a newsletter service, we might as well migrate our users over.

To begin, you’ll need to export your subscriber list from Feedburner. Log in at feedburner.google.com, head to Subscribers > Feedburner Email Subscriptions. In the fly out options select Manage Your Subscriber List then export as a CSV.

Your Feedburner list contains both verified and unverified addresses. Some newsletter services may allow you to import your unverified users, but AWeber in particular request that these entries are removed, seeing as they didn’t go through the complete double opt-in process. You can do this with some spreadsheet trickery in Excel or Open Office by filtering out the rows with the word “Active”. Save your edited list as a new CSV file.

I know MailChimp allows you to import lists without the subscribers having to opt-in, but AWeber will send out a confirmation to everyone (again). However, seeing as our Feedburner subs have already confirmed their subscription and we’re providing the same kind of newsletter service a quick email to AWeber’s support team will mean you can import your lists without the second double opt-in after a few quick checks.
Once your subscribers have been imported it’s time to create your newsletter template designs and set up your broadcast messages. AWeber’s templates are pretty ugly, whereas MailChimp and Campaign Monitor offer some really nice off the shelf layouts. Being an AWeber user myself this article is going to focus on their features, so I’d advise finding a ready made newsletter template elsewhere on the web and customise it.

To replicate Feedburner’s functionality of sending out an automatic email copy of your RSS posts you’ll need to head to Blog Broadcast in AWeber’s menu structure. Seeing as Feedburner is still alive and kicking you can safely enter your FB feed URL, this will mean your newsletter subscribers will be added to your total RSS subscriber count. If Feedburner is ever shut down, just change this to your original RSS feed. Use AWeber’s RSS tags to specify where it should inject the relevant content into your newsletter layout. For the full blog post, make sure you use {!rss_item_content}, for the excerpt use {!rss_item_description} (their templates seem to use the description by default).

Set the option to send updates when the number of items reaches 1, then disable Send Automatically for now (so you don’t end up spamming everyone while setting things up). AWeber’s process is a little confusing, it “sends” updates to your Broadcast page where these entries will wait until you press the Queue button, unless you check “Send Automatically”. The problem is when you save your Blog Broadcast it generates 10+ emails from your RSS feed. You definitely don’t want these being sent out to your entire list, so delete them, test your setup then turn on the Send Automatically option when you’re confident it’s all working correctly. This will set the process to autopilot when new content is posted and work just like Feedburner did (but with much prettier emails!).

Once your new AWeber mailing list is set up with an automatic blog broadcast you’ll want to head back into Feedburner and turn off Email Subscriptions, otherwise your readers will receive the same update twice from the two separate services.

In order to continue growing your list, make sure you add sign up forms to your website. Don’t forget you also have all kinds of options and features at your fingertips. Set up a welcome email and a follow up series to interact with your readers and provide additional content; send out standard Broadcast messages to spread the word about new updates and news; or use marketing strategies to dramatically increase your subscriber count such as providing a free gift or a sign up incentive.

Now you’re paying for your newsletter service you’ll want to give it a spring clean to keep the costs down. All services charge based on the total number of users in your list, but sometimes these users aren’t even receiving your messages. Run searches and remove any entries that have never opened an email to decrease your bill and increase your performance stats.

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05:36
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April 02 2012

07:00

January 29 2012

10:00

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Blogger

For the most part, being a professional blogger is a freelance position. It doesn’t matter how many different blog sites you are loyal to, even if it is your own, a blogger still has the option to have work published anywhere they feel. Unless you’re a corporate blogger who signed a contract with your company of employment stating you would not do so, but then again that technically might make you more of a copywriter. Moving on, being a full-time or part-time blogger means you’re freelancing on some level. As the typical freelancer asked themselves many questions before taking the big leap, you would think the same would go for bloggers.

In the same fashion as any other occupation, there are certain skill requirements that must be met. Almost every industry blog site has published an article about how blogging can improve your career, and then proceeds to convince the majority of readers that being a blogger is the way to go for them. However these articles, for the most part, are all missing one key aspect to them. Somewhere before, or after, informing the readers about the benefits of being a blogger, there needs to be time to reflect on why one shouldn’t be one.

Not too long ago I had an article published questioning the current state of the blogging industry. In it, one of my main concerns was the quality of work currently filling up most blog pages. That is where this article comes into play. Below you will find a set of questions that need to be addressed before taking on the role of a blogger.

Do You Write Well?


*Image Credit: jjpacres

There is nothing more embarrassing, or hurtful to your career, than having an article published that is structured badly and filled with grammatical errors. Automatically you’re going to have people eager to criticize every little grammatical mistake you make in your articles, that’s just something you have to come to expect as a blogger. Imagine finding an article that interests you and then realize that it is not written well enough for the actual message to be clear. It’s understandable why readers of articles like this voice their frustrations in the comments.

Don’t think that because in school you always got top grades and/or awards for your writing that the praise you received then will automatically translate over to your blogging career. A good writing style and ability level for a blogger allows for any topic to be written in an easy to understand and follow article.  This is not something that comes easily if it is not your natural style of writing.

Are You Going to do the Research?


*Image Credit: UGA College of Ag

Although being a top writer in school may not have much to do with your blogging career, how you went about researching your essays and papers does. For the most part, the average blogger gets started by writing about topics they already know a lot about. This allows them to showcase their knowledge, and is an easy stepping stone on the path to their new occupation. Once the topics they know about dry up so to speak, what then?

This happens a lot in the blogging world sadly. It is a regular occurrence to see a blogger write pretty good articles at first based off the knowledge they already have, but after they start digging into topics outside of that they kinda flop. This is starting to happen more often because there are a lot of bloggers who are not putting in the proper amount of time in the research phase of their writing process.

Do You Care about Your Readers?


*Image Credit: familymwr

Personally, I’m always asking myself and wondering how my readers will react to anything I write that gets published. Questions like “Are they going to understand my reason for writing this?”, “Could I have given that little bit of extra effort to make better?”, “Did I spend enough time on it?” or any number of  other questions. To be a good, well received blogger, you need to ask yourself these types of questions somewhere in the back of your mind. Even the bloggers who claim they only write to please themselves, somewhere along the line will start to if they are building a fan base for their work.

As a blogger your job is to provide quality content FOR your readers.

Do You Enjoy Blogging?


*Image Credit: kiki follettosa

Being a blogger takes up an awful amount of time if you’re doing it right, whether you’re being paid for it or not. The level of joy you have in your chosen topics, and blogging in general, will clearly show in everything you write. If you’re interested in your topic, you’ll probably write a good article. However if you’re is uninterested in the topic you’re writing about, and enjoyment is not a factor, then its going to be harder to produce quality content on a consistent basis.

Are You Going to Give Readers What They Want, Or Need?


*Image Credit: United Way of the Lower Mainland

For the most part, the majority of people who find themselves blogging come from career backgrounds with their daily work always leading towards pleasing someone whether it’s a supervisor, client, board director, or the end-user. It doesn’t really matter who, in the end their job is to do something that pleases someone else.

Blogging is a lot like this, because the one way a blog site can come up in the ranks fast, and keep a consistent strong readership, is to create content that they feel readers want. This of course will get you a ton of sharing of your articles, but will you be doing the community of readers who come to your articles proper justice?

A good blogger should always remember that people don’t always get the best results from receiving what they want. It’s more vital to instead get what one needs.

Why?


*Image Credit: B Rosen

This is a simple question, yet puzzling. Before embarking on this occupational journey you should ask yourself why? Whatever reason it may be, you need to be 100% sure of yourself. If you’re only looking for the possible internet fame associated with the job, then maybe you should just max out your potential in something you’re already doing. If you just want a nice and easy way to make a little extra money, you should ask yourself the previous questions again. Probably missed something important.

In Conclusion

Being a blogger is one of those areas where your interest level in what you do shows very easily, and your reputation rests with your worst article sometimes. It’s not easy, there is not a set amount of hours or days you will be working, and you’re not going to become some overnight sensation. This is a hard job to do, but the rewards greatly outweigh that if you’re really interested in blogging.

September 06 2010

06:00

WordPress Fat-Loss Diet to Speed Up & Ease Load

Last week we looked at some useful plugins to enhance and protect WordPress, following on with the WordPress topic let’s look at how you can tweak your WordPress install to increase the speed of your site and ease the load on your web servers. We’ll be putting the front end code on a strict diet, while trimming the fat from the database to produce a fast, lean website that doesn’t clog up your server’s resources.

Despite its general awesomeness and wide adoption across the web as both a blogging platform and a trusty CMS, it’s no secret that WordPress is a greedy old memory hog. This high memory usage soon becomes apparent when your blog receives a decent number of visitors and your blog goes missing due to your server throwing in the towel.

Installing one of the many caching plugins fixes 90% of these server problems, while upgrading your server specs solves the rest. But it’s not all about uptime and downtime, we also want a speedy site that loads in a flash every day. Follow this 10 step exercise regime for your blog and you’ll take it from a slobbering podgy couch potato to a ripped and finely tuned pentathlon athlete.

Step One – Install a Caching plugin

Caching solves 90% of those server problems. It dramatically eases the load on your server by presenting static files to users instead of making numerous calls back and forth to the database. There’s a hand full of plugins to choose from including WP-Cache, WP Super Cache, Hyper Cache and W3 Total Cache. Check out this handy post from Tutorial9 for a more thorough overview.

My choice goes with W3 Total Cache as it combines not only page caching, but also database caching, browser caching, object caching and minify settings.

Step two – Lose the plugins & widgets

WordPress plugins are what makes the application so powerful, but there’s some that you could either remove altogether, or hard code into your theme. Each plugin creates extra processes your server will have to resolve each time a page is loaded so removing these processes can really help speed up your site.

Instead of using a plugin to insert your Analytics code into your page footer, do it yourself. Rather than rely on a plugin to insert share buttons, add them to the theme yourself. Chances are some of these plugins will be bloated with unnecessary code and will call their own CSS and Javascript files for features you might not even be using.

Step three – Hard code your templates

This one is definitely more for the designers and developers who run their own sites, as opposed to sites that need to be editable for clients, or for public themes. Swapping out the WordPress PHP tags for plain old HTML can really help increase the speed of your site as you’re essentially cutting out the extra steps WordPress has to take. Let’s take <?php wp_list_pages(); ?> for example. Each time the your webpage is loaded, WordPress has to check the database for the number of pages it has stored, then inject them into your theme as a series of <li> elements.

Instead, link up the pages directly in your theme file:

<ul>
	<li><a href="/category/articles">Articles</a></li>
	<li><a href="/category/inspiration">Inspiration</a></li>
	<li><a href="/category/tutorials">Tutorials</a></li>
	<li><a href="/about">About</a></li>
	<li><a href="/advertise">Advertise</a></li>
	<li><a href="/contact">Contact</a></li>
</ul>

The same can be done for lots of standard PHP tags in your WordPress theme, what about <?php bloginfo('name'); ?>, <?php wp_list_categories(); ?> or <?php bloginfo('stylesheet_url'); ?> Once your site is set up, chances are these elements aren’t going to change anytime soon.

Step four – Minify your HTML & CSS

Minifying can help squeeze out every last Kilobyte from your front end files, speeding up your pages by whole milliseconds. If you picked out W3 Total Cache as your caching plugin of choice, you have Minify settings right at your fingertips. Minifying strips out white space and comments from your HTML and CSS files, which lowers the filesizes and subsequently allows for faster load times.

Step five – Smush your images

Images make up a large portion of the files that are downloaded during every page load. Some files, like header images and other theme related graphics are loaded on every page so it’s worth making sure these images are as lean as they can be. Upload and replace your theme image files with versions that have been run through the Smush.it engine. For all the other images uploaded through WordPress, the WP Smush.it WordPress plugin helps optimize images as they’re used.

Step six – Disable post revisions

Post revisions are a handy feature if you’re running a multi-author blog, but for most of us it’s an unused feature of WordPress. Post revisions can seriously bloat your database with multiple copies of posts, adding extra MBs to your SQL files. To turn it off, simply add the following code to your wp-config file:

define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', false );

Don’t forget to delete existing post revisions using the following SQL query, through phpmyadmin or similar (as always, create a backup before making such changes):

DELETE FROM wp_posts WHERE post_type = "revision";

Step seven – Delete all spam comments

Just like a hoard of post revisions, spam comments that have been captured by Akismet can take up some serious database space, especially if you haven’t done a spring clean in a while and there’s thousands of comments polluting your spam section. Thankfully it’s easy to nuke them all with the swift click of a button in the WordPress admin area.

Step eight – Run a Clean Options check

If your blog is a few years old, chances are you will have installed plugins that you don’t use anymore. Most plugins are developed well and clean up after themselves when they’re uninstalled, unfortunately there are others than leave behind all their settings and information. These unused tables can bloat your database so it’s useful to purge them to free up space. The WordPress plugin Clean Options is a handy tool for giving your database a clear out. It looks for tables that are no longer in use then gives you the option of deleting them.

Step nine – Optimize your database

Over time your database develops clutter. Just like the drefragging of a hard drive, optimizing your database removes this clutter and puts everything back in its place. There’s two easy methods of doing so, with a plugin or via phpmyadmin. If you have WP-DBManager installed, this plugin has the optimize feature built in and can even schedule the job to run automatically.

Step ten – Purchase multiple servers

You may reach a point where even your trimmed WordPress install still breaks even the most finely tuned and highly specced VPS or dedicated server under high load. The next step is to not only increase your server size, but also in numbers. Using one highly specced server purely for MySQL allows the database to use as much resources as it needs, while the PHP and front end files reside on a smaller server.
Use the define('DB_HOST'); setting in the wp-config.php file to specify the IP of the server the database is living on.

August 30 2010

06:00

Post-Install Plugins to Enhance & Protect WordPress

WordPress is a fantastic, easy to install application that’s packed full of useful features. It’s all ready to rock straight out of the box, but there’s a few easy customisations you can make with a cocktail of plugins that will enhance the functionality as well as offer crucial protection. This is my collection of post-install plugins that I immediately add to every WordPress install I work on – There’s no fancy gallery plugins here, just back-to-basics additions to improve speed, SEO and security.

Akismet

Akismet is so crucial to a WordPress blog it even comes pre-installed. All you need to do is sign up for an API key from WordPress.com in order to activate the plugin.

What does it do?

Akismet works on the front line in the battle against spam. It picks out spammy comments from your blog and helps protect your site against those pesky spam bots.

Download the plugin

All in One SEO Pack

Changing your Permalink structure is the first step you should take to a more optimised blog. The second step is to install the All in One SEO pack to allow complete customisation of every post and page to squeeze out the best search optimisation you can.

What does it do?

The All in One SEO pack makes a few important SEO improvements to your WordPress blog, such as canonical URL redirection and reconfiguration of page titles. More importantly it gives you complete control over the page title, meta description and keywords for every post and page so you can completely optimise your site.

Download the plugin

Google XML Sitemaps

After settings up your permalinks and installing the All in One SEO pack, all that’s left to do to completely SEO’ify your blog is to provide the Googlebots a sitemap to feast on. The Google XML Sitemaps plugin does exactly what it says on the tin…

What does it do?

The Google XML Sitemaps plugin creates and regenerates an XML based sitemap file that lists every page of your site in order of popularity. This allows the bots to easily crawl your pages, as well as quickly update changed pages in the search index.

Download the plugin

Login Lockdown

Brute force attacks are one of the most common ways blogs are hacked. One way to protect against this is with the Login Lockdown plugin, which provides a sturdy security wall between your site and the bad people by limiting the number of login attempts and blocking out IPs that exceed this set amount.

What does it do?

The Login Lockdown can be configured to allow X number of login retries. Once these retries have been exceeded, that particular IP will be locked out for a period of time (also configurable). The plugin also allows you to mask login errors, so WordPress will no longer give hackers a clue if they correctly guessed your username.

Download the plugin

W3 Total Cache

I’ve played around with just about every caching plugin out there, but W3 Total Cache definitely gets my recommendation. Caching is one of the most important additions to any WordPress blog. The W3 Total Cache plugin not only provides page caching, but also has database caching, object caching and a minify system built right in – All with customisable options.

What does it do?

W3 Total Cache speeds up your WordPress site by caching pages. Instead of WordPress making multiple calls to the server upon every visit, it displays a ready-made static file or reuses queries from the cache. This provides a huge speed increase and eases the load on your web server.

Download the plugin

WP-DBManager

Regularly taking backups of your WordPress database is as important as remembering breathe. There’s a good selection of ‘scheduled backup’ plugins out there, but my favourite is WP-DBManager. Not only does this plugin provide useful scheduling options, but it also allows you to browse, restore and optimize your database directly in WordPress.

What does it do?

WP-DBManager allows you to browse your database tables, restore existing backups, automatically optimize your database and set regular scheduled backups at interval of hours, days or months.

Download the plugin

WP Smush.it

The images you upload to your WordPress blog will account for a large portion of the load your server deals with. Smushing these images strips out the meta data, optimizes compression and removes unused colours from JPEG, GIF and PNG files, which in turn reduced their size by a couple of percent. This change isn’t huge on a per-file basis, but it all adds up when calculated across the whole site!

What does it do?

WP Smush.it automatically sends all the images you upload via the WordPress media uploader through the Smush.it API to optimize the images. You can even go back and Smush all your existing images using the handy button in the media browser.

Download the plugin

April 07 2010

10:05

What Bloggers Can Do With Their Old Designs?

Things to do with old designsRedesigning is kind of new trends with blogs. As Smashing Magazine, Mashable &  larger number of other blogs are redesigning their blogs with some stunning new looks & user experience. I noticed that old design of these blogs was also good & that made me think that people can use their old designs in more than one way.

This idea came to me few days back, when I found blog post on a famous design blog that gave sneak peek of their new design. I felt current design of that website was also pretty awesome. I quickly made a comment on the post suggesting him that he should donate his old design to new & upcoming bloggers which can help them in some way.

So following is the list what bloggers can do with their old design, rather than completely scraping them of.

1. Donate to new bloggers or to non-profit organizations.

Things to do with old designs

Photo by Mindful One’s

Donating is a good option as they will not only appreciate, but will also mention your good deed by telling their audience about it. This will bring good traffic to your blog, and also you will earn good karma for it.

2. Auction your old designs.

Things to do with old designsAuctioning is other option bloggers should try doing it with their old design as there are many people who would want an ownership on the design which has been known by people for long time. Either you can completely auction the old design or you can sell the design in parts like selling your logos, icons, header or footer PSD in your auction.

Photo by The-Lane-Team’s

3. Create a giveaway post where you can give your old design as the prize

Things to do with old designsGiveaway is a great way to get large traffic on the blog & giving old design as a prize would surely make everyone crazy & the word about your old design is given away in giveaway post will spread like fire & people will do anything to have their hands on your old designs. This will also get you lots of new subscriber to your blog.

Photo by Andrzej Gdula

4. Reward your subscriber by gifting old design to most commenter on the blog.

Things to do with old designsRewards are the best way to say that you care about your subscribers. So rewarding your old design to the subscriber with most comments will show that you always reward the most loyal follower of your blog with some exciting gifts . So this will not only give you more followers to your blog, but also you will earn large number of loyal followers which are always needed for any bloggers.

Photo by Kostya Kisleyko

5. Sell your design in marketplace.

Photo by Chris Holder

Putting up your design for sell in marketplace will definitely make you richer by some dime as there are many readers who will wish to have website like yours.

6.Distribute design under Creative Common Rights.

Distributing design under creative common rights is a good idea, in this way you generate large number of backlinks & traffic to your blog.

7.Share old design with some slight modification to subscribers of the blogs.

If you are not willing to give your original design of your blog, then you can create a modified version of design & can distribute that design to your readers. It will be a win-win situation for you as well as for your reader.

8.Give them away in freebies.

Things to do with old designs

Photo by Billy Alexander

Giving your design as freebie, without any conditions will show your generosity & you will get huge traffic too, as most of the blogger will point to your domain suggesting their user to download your old design.

9.Write tutorials showing how you created your design.

Things to do with old designs

Photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian

Tutorials on how you created your old design is other way of showing your willingness to your subscriber to give them an inside to your design concept & let them know the kind of hard work you put into your designing.

10.Giveaway psd’s in freebies.

If you are not willing to share your complete design, then best thing you can offer freebies of PSD document of your design.

So just don’t garbage your old design as there are many bloggers who are die-hard fan of your blog, who would like to receive their favourite blogs old design & would like to implement them on their blog. By this way you can get large traffic but also generate some good fan following on to your blogs.

Feel free to share your comments with us.

March 29 2010

07:00

5 Tools & Services I Recommend to Every Blog Owner

Straight out of the box Wordpress covers all the features you could want for your blog, which is probably the reason why it’s the most popular blogging platform. However there are some extra resources and services I always rely on to add that extra level of functionality to my sites. Here’s a quick overview of five services, both free and paid, that I always recommend to the owner of any blog.

Feedburner

Feedburner

Feedburner, which is now owned by Google, is a handy tool that allows you to manage your RSS feeds. By ‘burning’ your feed through Feedburner, you gain access to a whole bunch of extra features. Most importantly you can see and track your feed statistics such as your subscriber count. Feedburner also gives you the opportunity to offer your RSS feeds as email updates, opening up new options to your subscribers.

Cost: Free!

Google Analytics

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful stats tool that collections useful traffic data on your site. By simply adding a tracking code to your website code, you’ll be able to keep an eye on all kinds of handy data. See which posts generate the largest response, see where your traffic is coming from and gather useful information on the browser usage and computer setup of your visitors.

Cost: Free!

Wufoo

Wufoo

Wufoo is an online HTML form builder that makes it easy to accept email message via your website. Sure, there’s plenty of PHP scripts and plugins out there that can quickly generate a contact form, but none of them are as spam free and as easily customisable as Wufoo. What’s more, your emails arrive all nicely formatted and easy on the eye. I use Wufoo not only for contact forms, but also for questionnaires and surveys.

Cost: Free (or premium from $14.95)

Bookmarking buttons

Social Bookmarking buttons

Every popular social bookmarking website now has a button that you can place on your website. These buttons help users promote and share your content, which grow your blog with more and more exposure. Popular buttons I use are those from Tweetmeme, Facebook, Digg and DesignBump, but there’s plenty more out there to choose from, including StumbleUpon, Delicious, DZone and Reddit.

Cost: Free!

BuySellAds

BuySellAds

If your blog has reached a stage where you can begin bringing in some revenue to cover the time your put into your blog, the BuySellAds is an indispensable resource. Managing your advertisers and ad spaces manually is an exhaustive task. BuySellAds not only take the strain out of ad management, but they also exposure your site to a huge marketplace of potential advertisers.

Cost: 25% commission on ad sales

What about you?

Which resources, other than plugins do you use on your blog? Are there any that are so good you don’t mind paying for the service? Let me know in the comments!

March 02 2010

20:00

102 Respected Designers You Should Follow On Twitter

Title-follow-designers-twitterTwitter is growing and growing – if you’ve been living in ice age, then maybe you don’t know about this popular trend. Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social networks and that’s why we will do series here to help you get better there. We are starting with huge post where we selected the most interesting and active bloggers and designers you should enjoy following.

We are sorry about ones we didn’t include, but hey, here is a quick thought –  add your twitter names in comments with description why people should follow you! Just hope you enjoy this article and we all can leverage from great new friends to talk with!

1. @1stwebdesigner (Dainis Graveris)

Website: http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/

1stwebdesigner-follow-designers-twitter

Of course, shameless self promotion!

Web-designer, who decided to dedicate his life to design few years ago. Now living happily ever after! Add him if you are web design fan!

2. @smalonedesign (Stephanie Malone)

Website: http://www.smalonedesign.com/

smalone-design-follow-designers-twitter

Graphic Artist. Creative Director. Skilled Copywriter. Design Diva.

3. @ronicadesign (Veronica Domeier)

Website: http://www.ronicasdesign.com/

ronica-design-follow-designers-twitter

Freelance designer of print & web. Photographer, adventurer, Apple fan.

4. @r27 (Rajesh Pancholi)

Website: http://www.r27.co.uk/

r27-follow-designers-twitter

R27.CREATIVELAB. Design & Visual Communications.

5. @nicholaspatten (Nicholas Patten)

Website: http://www.nicholaspatten.com/

nicholas-patten-follow-designers-twitter

Video Editor, Graphic/Web Designer.

6. @mlane (Mike Lane)

Website: http://mlane.net/

mlane-follow-designers-twitter

Senior UX Designer near Minneapolis, MN with 15 years experience in creative Web and Graphic Design.

7. @Minervity (Richard Darell)

Website: http://www.minervity.com/

Minervity-follow-designers-twitter

Web/Graphic Designer/Developer.

8. @mayhemstudios (Calvin Lee)

Website: http://mayhemstudios.com/

mayhem-studios-follow-designers-twitter

Self-Proclaimed Media Ho, Designer Guy and Twitter Addict.

9. @logocritiques (Erik Peterson)

Website: http://www.logocritiques.com/

logocritiques-follow-designers-twitter

Logo Critiques blogger, Graphic designer, Web designer.

10. @justcreative (Jacob Cass)

Website: http://justcreativedesign.com/

justcreative-follow-designers-twitter

Graphic Designer, Logo Designer, Web Designer, Blogger, Creative Thinker, Social Media Nut, Freelancer, Link Sharer.

11. @jasonsantamaria (Jason Santa Maria)

Website: http://jasonsantamaria.com/

jasonsantamaria-follow-designers-twitter

Designer by day, designer by night.

12. @gracesmith (Grace Smith)

Website: http://postscript5.co.uk/twitter.htm

gracesmith-follow-designers-twitter

A 26 year old Freelance Web and Graphic Designer in love with web standards and social media. An unashamed Apple Fangirl.

13. @chrisspooner (Chris Spooner)

Website: http://www.blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/

chrisspooner-follow-designers-twitter

A creative Designer, avid Blogger.

14. @bongobrian (Brian Paulowicz)

Website: http://pauloworks.carbonmade.com/

bongobrian-follow-designers-twitter

Web Designer, Graphic Artist.

15. @bartelme (Wolfgang Bartelme)

Website: http://bartelme.at/

bartelme-follow-designers-twitter

User interface graphic designer from Austria.

16. @artistech (Artistech Newmedia)

Website: http://www.artistechnewmedia.com/

artistech-follow-designers-twitter

Dynamic Design & Production for the Web, Print and Video based in Kelowna, BC, Canada.

17. @anthonywoods (Silver-Solutions)

Website: http://www.silver-solutions.co.uk/

anthonywoods-follow-designers-twitter

Web and Software Application Developer / Web Designer.

18. @AndrewKelsall (Andrew Kelsall)

Website: http://andrewkelsall.com/

andrewkelsall-follow-designers-twitter

Graphic Designer, Creative, Logo, Print and Web Design, Wordpresser, Tech-head, Blogger and Mac user.

19. @abduzeedo (Fabio Sasso)

Website: http://www.abduzeedo.com/

abduzeedo-follow-designers-twitter

Graphic/web designer and blogger.

20. @bittbox (Jay Hilgert)

Website: http://www.bittbox.com/

bittbox-follow-designers-twitter

Business Owner, Designer, Blogger, Web-enthusiast.

21. @bluewavemedia (Kimberly Beaven)

Website: http://www.bluewavemedia.ca/

bluewavemedia-follow-designers-twitter

Web, development, marketing and media firm.

22. @boagworld (Paul Boag)

Website: http://boagworld.com/

boagworld-follow-designers-twitter

Founder of web design agency Headscape, host of the boagworld web design podcast and author of the website owners manual.

23. @bokardo (Joshua Porter)

Website: http://bokardo.com/

bokardo-follow-designers-twitter

Founder of Bokardo Design, a design consultancy focusing exclusively on social web applications.

24. @cameronolivier (Cam Olivier)

Website: http://www.cameronolivier.com/

cameronolivier-follow-designers-twitter

A designer/developer at theClassifieds.co.za

25. @chadengle (Chad Engle)

Website: http://fuelyourcreativity.com/

chadengle-follow-designers-twitter

Graphic Designer, Editor at FuelYourCreativity.

26. @chriscoyier (Chris Coyier)

Website: http://css-tricks.com/

chriscoyier-follow-designers-twitter

Web designer.

27. @cjgraphix (Collin Robinson)

Website: http://www.cjgraphix.com/

cjgraphix-follow-designers-twitter

Freelance web designer and developer.

28. @clagnut (Richard Rutter)

Website: http://clagnut.com/

clagnut-follow-designers-twitter

A web site producer living in Brighton.

29. @corePHP (Zen Penguin)

Website: http://www.corephp.com/

corephp-follow-designers-twitter

Professional Web Development & Graphic Design.

30. @cssglobe (Alen Grakalic)

Website: http://cssglobe.com/

cssglobe-follow-designers-twitter

Web designer and developer.

31. @davidlano (David Lano)

Website: http://www.davidlano.com/

davidlano-follow-designers-twitter

Web Developer, Blogger.

32. @DesignerDepot (Webdesigner Depot)

Website: http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/

designerdepot-follow-designers-twitter

Webdesigner Depot is one of the most popular blogs about web design trends, tutorials and much more. It’s run by Walter Apai, a web designer from Vancouver.

33. @designshard (Max Stanworth)

Website: http://www.designshard.com/

designshard-follow-designers-twitter

Lover of Typography, Web Design, CSS, XHTML , Illustration.

34. @DesiznTech (Kawsar Ali)

Website: http://desizntech.info/

desizntech-follow-designers-twitter

A web designer who also likes blogging.

35. @dustinbrewer (Dustin Brewer)

Website: http://dustinbrewer.com/

dustinbrewer-follow-designers-twitter

Freelance web designer.

36. @idesignstudios (Selene M. Bowlby)

Website: http://www.idesignstudios.com/blog/

idesignstudios-follow-designers-twitter

Web Designer and Front-End Web Developer. Specializing in creating Custom WordPress Themes.

37. @JoPhillips (Jon Phillips)

Website: http://spyrestudios.com/

jophillips-follow-designers-twitter

Designer.

38. @leonfernandes (Leon Fernandes)

Website: http://www.leonfernandes.com.au/blog/

leonfernandes-follow-designers-twitter

Freelance Web Designer Specialising in Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing.

39. @Othella (Amélie Husson)

Website: http://www.vitali-software.com/blog/

othella-follow-designers-twitter

26 years old French girl living in Germany, freelancer, wordpress guru, web designer, internet geek, Mac user, crazy about ITs, books.

40. @RussAdams (Russ Adams)

Website: http://webdesign.fm/

russadams-follow-designers-twitter

Web design blogger at WebDesign.fm.

41. @sethjenks (Seth Jenks)

Website: http://sethjenks.com/

sethjenks-follow-designers-twitter

Student of marketing, design, and SEO who is working to make an impact on the world.

42. @sh3n3rd (Mitsi McKee)

Website: http://www.rockfishinteractive.com/

sh3n3rd-follow-designers-twitter

Web Designer – Rockfish Interactive, Founder – Evil Tomato Media.

43. @simonashley (Simon Ashley)

Website: http://www.gotripod.com/

simonashley-follow-designers-twitter

A web designer and developer, systems architect, new media scientist, technologist, web entrepreneur, amateur quantum enthusiast and coffee aficionado.

44. @tonychester (Tony Chester)

Website: http://onwired.com/

tonychester-follow-designers-twitter

Owner of OnWired. A progressive web design and development firm in North Carolina. Also running YourWebJob.com and PleaseCritiqueMe.com.

45. @veen (Jeffrey Veen)

Website: http://veen.com/jeff/

veen-follow-designers-twitter

Founder.

46. @Aisleone (Antonio Carusone)

Website: http://www.aisleone.net/

aisleone-follow-designers-twitter

A graphic designer.

47. @arronlock (Arron Lock)

Website: http://www.brightasblack.com/

arronlock-follow-designers-twitter

Dedicated graphic designer.

48. @behoff (Brian Hoff)

Website: http://www.thedesigncubicle.com/

behoff-follow-designers-twitter

Graphic designer.

49. @digitalmash (Rob Morris)

Website: http://digitalmash.com/

digitalmash-follow-designers-twitter

Product designer at HiiDef Inc.

50. @imjustcreative (Graham Smith)

Website: http://imjustcreative.com/

imjustcreative-follow-designers-twitter

Freelance logo and brand identity designer. Iconic, typographic and minimalist tendencies. 25 years experience.

51. @jasonwalz (Jason Walz)

Website: http://mzltd.com/

jasonwalz-follow-designers-twitter

Art Director, Graphic / Web Designer, Video Editor.

52. @snookca (Snook)

Website: http://snook.ca/

snookca-follow-designers-twitter

A creator of striking designs, impeccable markup and code, and forward-thinking ideas and applications.

53. @vpieters (Veerle Pieters)

Website: http://veerle.duoh.com/

vpieters-follow-designers-twitter

A graphic/web designer living in Belgium.

54. @meyerweb (Eric A. Meyer)

Website: http://meyerweb.com/

meyerweb-follow-designers-twitter

CSS and HTML expert.

55. @pearsonified (pearsonified)

Website: http://www.pearsonified.com/

pearsonified-follow-designers-twitter

A Web developer who specializes in building detailed, robust WordPress themes.

56. @collis (Collis) Website: http://envato.com/

collis-follow-designers-twitter

Working at Envato where he helps making awesome websites!

57. @bleikamp (Ben Bleikamp)

Website: http://www.bleikamp.com/

bleikamp-follow-designers-twitter

An interaction designer and product manager.

58. @DavidAirey (David Airey)

Website: http://www.davidairey.com/

davidairey-follow-designers-twitter

Graphic designer.

59. @problogdesign (Michael Martin)

Website: http://www.problogdesign.com/

problogdesign-follow-designers-twitter

Web designer, specialising in blog design.

60. @michaelcastilla (Michael Castilla)

Website: http://wpcoder.com/

michaelcastilla-follow-designers-twitter

Owner of WPCoder.com.

61. @redwall_hp (Matt Harzewski)

Website: http://www.webmaster-source.com/

redwall hp-follow-designers-twitter

Blogger, web designer, writer.

62. @arthurbrownjr (Arthur Brown Jr.)

Website: http://www.arthurbrownjr.com/

arthurbrownjr-follow-designers-twitter

A web designer and marketing communications professional focused on creating the best online and offline experiences possible. Building engaging websites.

63. @zeldman (Jeffrey Zeldman)

Website: http://www.zeldman.com/

zeldman-follow-designers-twitter

Author, Designing With Web Standards 3rd Ed., zeldman.com. Founder, Happy Cog studio. Publisher, A List Apart magazine. Co-founder, An Event Apart conference.

64. @randaclay (randaclay)

Website: http://randaclay.com/

randaclay-follow-designers-twitter

Freelance designer.

65. @cameronmoll (Cameron Moll)

Website: http://cameronmoll.com/

cameronmoll-follow-designers-twitter

Designer, Speaker, Author.

66. @andybudd (Andy Budd)

Website: http://www.andybudd.com/

andybudd-follow-designers-twitter

User Experience Designer, partner at @clearleft and curator of @dconstruct and @uxlondon.

67. @simplebits (Dan Cederholm)

Website: http://simplebits.com/

simplebits-follow-designers-twitter

A designer, author, speaker. Founder and Principal of SimpleBits.

68. @danbenjamin (Dan Benjamin)

Website: http://hivelogic.com/

danbenjamin-follow-designers-twitter

Broadcaster, writer and developer.

69. @mollydotcom (Molly E. Holzschlag)

Website: http://molly.com/

mollydotcom-follow-designers-twitter

Well-known Web standards advocate, instructor, and author.

70. @adactio (Jeremy Keith)

Website: http://adactio.com/journal/

adactio-follow-designers-twitter

An Irish web developer living and working in Brighton, England.

71. @clearleft (Clearleft)

Website: http://clearleft.com/

clearleft-follow-designers-twitter

User-experience design agency based in Brighton, UK.

72. @mezzoblue (Dave Shea)

Website: http://www.mezzoblue.com/

mezzoblue-follow-designers-twitter

A Vancouver local and a freelance designer.

73. @orderedlist (Steve Smith)

Website: http://orderedlist.com/

orderedlist-follow-designers-twitter

Architects user interfaces and web designs.

74. @ryancarson (Ryan Carson)

Website: http://carsonified.com/

ryancarson-follow-designers-twitter

Internet entrepreneur and founder of Carsonified.com.

75. @blogdesignblog (Vinh Le)

Website: http://www.blogdesignblog.com/

blogdesignblog-follow-designers-twitter

Blog designer.

76. @ilovetypography (I Love Typography)

Website: http://ilovetypography.com/

ilovetypography-follow-designers-twitter

Founder of ILT (I Love Typography), WLT, & TypeNuts.com. Graphic designer, writer, typophile, bibliophile.

77. @keylimecreative (keylimecreative)

Website: http://www.keylimecreative.ca/

keylimecreative-follow-designers-twitter

Professional Graphic Designer.

78. @andyjacobson (Andy Jacobson)

Website: http://andyjacobson.com/

andyjacobson-follow-designers-twitter

A NYC based Graphic Designer/Communications Consultant who has been running his own studio since 1993.

79. @VladGeorgescu (Vlad Georgescu)

Website: http://vladgeorgescu.com/

vladgeorgescu-follow-designers-twitter

User Experience Designer.

80. @Brandstack (Brandstack)

Website: http://brandstack.com/

brandstack-follow-designers-twitter

The World’s Biggest Brand Marketplace. Buy and Sell high quality, original logo designs and domain names.

81. @stevensnell (Steven Snell)

Website: http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/

stevensnell-follow-designers-twitter

Web designer, blogger, and freelance writer.

82. @aaroni268 (Aaron Irizarry)

Website: http://www.thisisaaronslife.com/

aaroni268-follow-designers-twitter

Just a simple guy who likes to make pretty, usable stuff.

83. @blogdesigner (Mike Smith)

Website: http://www.madebyguerrilla.com/

blogdesigner-follow-designers-twitter

Running a startup @GiantThemes and a full time web designer for @madebyguerrilla who loves MMA and blogs @gfreelancing.

84. @spencerfry (Spencer Fry)

Website: http://spencerfry.com/

spencerfry-follow-designers-twitter

Running Carbonmade with other fine folks. And Burstoid.

85. @graphicidentity (A u d e e)

Website: http://graphic-identity.blogspot.com/

graphicidentity-follow-designers-twitter

Graphic Identity Blog author. Logo, graphic, web designer.

86. @creativeworld (Leon Poole)

Website:  http://www.creativeworld.com.au/

creativeworld-follow-designers-twitter

Owner of Creative World. Blogging on: Web design, Graphic Design, CSS, XHTML, Flash, Theme Design (Wordpress, activeCollab, Magento).

87. @939design (939 Design)

Website: http://www.939design.com/

939design-follow-designers-twitter

Web and Graphic designer.

88. @alexdesigns (Alex Harris)

Website: http://alexdesigns.com/

alexdesigns-follow-designers-twitter

Ecommerce Creative Director. Web Design & Online Marketing.

89. @mirkohumbert (mirkohumbert)

Website: http://www.designer-daily.com/

mirkohumbert-follow-designers-twitter

Swiss graphic and web designer.

90. @woork (Antonio Lupetti)

Website: http://woorkup.com/

woork-follow-designers-twitter

Pro Blogger, Founder of woorkup.com.

91. @seanHodge (Sean Hodge)

Website: http://aiburn.com/

seanhodge-follow-designers-twitter

Graphic Designer, Web Designer, Vector Illustrator, Blog Editor, and Writer.

92. @tkadlec (Tim Kadlec)

Website: http://www.timkadlec.com/

tkadlec-follow-designers-twitter

A web developer living and working in Wisconsin.

93. @Adii (adii)

Website: http://adii.co.za/

adii-follow-designers-twitter

Entrepreneur, co-founder of WooThemes and general creator of Rockstar Awesomeness!

94. @corymiller303 (Cory Miller)

Website: http://corymiller.com/

corymiller303-follow-designers-twitter

Web Design, WordPress themes & entrepreneurship – Founder of iThemes.com & WebDesign.com.

95. @bgardner (Brian Gardner)

Website: http://www.studiopress.com/

bgardner-follow-designers-twitter

Internet consultant. Founder/CEO of StudioPress and AgentPress.

96. @wpcandy (Michael Castilla)

Website: http://wpcandy.com/

wpcandy-follow-designers-twitter

Founder & Creator of WPCandy. A front-end developer, currently living in Miami, Florida.

97. @elmofromok (Chad Henderson)

Website: http://www.elmofromok.com/

elmofromok-follow-designers-twitter

Web designer, writer and podcaster from Oklahoma.

98. @elliotjaystocks (Elliot Jay Stocks) Website: http://elliotjaystocks.com/

elliotjaystocks-follow-designers-twitter

A designer, an illustrator, a speaker and an author.

99. @MitchellMckenna (Mitchell McKenna)

Website: http://mitchmckenna.com/

mitchellmckenna-follow-designers-twitter

Software Developer, Web Designer.

100. @stillframe (Brad Smith)

Website: http://stillframe.com/

stillframe-follow-designers-twitter

Co-founder of Virb.

101. @larissameek (Larissa Meek)

Website: http://www.larissameek.com/

larissameek-follow-designers-twitter

Creative Director at AgencyNet based in Los Angeles, CA.

102. @smashingmag (Vitaly Friedman)

Website: http://www.smashingmazine.com

Vitaly Friedman, editor-in-chief of SmashingMagazine.com and Noupe.com, online magazines dedicated to designers and developers.

Related posts:

  1. 5 Timeless Usability Principles for Website Designers
  2. 27 Twitter Tools To Help You Find And Manage Followers
  3. 50 Free Social Twitter Resources and Icon Sets: Huge List
  4. 53 Promotional Websites To Gain Traffic Quick And Easy
  5. Tips for Web Designers From an Internet Marketer’s Perspective

January 25 2010

07:00

An Interview with Designer & Blogger Jon Phillips

Jon Phillips is a freelance web designer and is a well known figure in the online community as the guy behind top design related sites Spyre Studios, Freelance Folder and Design Newz. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jon on a couple of his personal and client related projects in the past, so I invited him to chat about his background, share some of his experiences of running multiple blogs and give some insights into his upcoming projects.

Hi Jon, let’s start with an introduction. What is your background and what do you do?

Hey everyone! Thanks a lot Chris for having me. I’m Jon, I’m a self-taught web-designer and blogger from Quebec, Canada. I’ve been designing on a freelance basis for a couple years now and I also run a design blog at SpyreStudios and a design news site called Design-Newz. I’m also a musician and have been playing for about 16 years.

Can you give us an insight into a typical day in the life of Jon Phillips?

Sure thing! Every day is different from the last but a typical day usually starts with making coffee, checking emails, traffic, stats and comments on my blog and then I’ll spend some time on Twitter and check my RSS reader and check my to-do list. Then, if I can get all the administrative stuff (invoicing, accounting and other boring tasks) done before noon, I’ll start working on more creative things, designs for clients, personal projects and blogging.

Then I’ll check my emails, stats and Twitter again, write a couple things on my to-do list, and call it a day.

Of course it happens I’ll work really long hours or even pull an all-nighter, but I’m trying this work/life balance thing that people keep talking and writing about. :)

You have a wide selection of design blog projects under your belt (Spyre Studios, Freelance Folder, Design-Newz), how did the decisions to establish these sites come about?

Well, as far as SpyreStudios is concerned it took me about 2 years before I actually decided I needed to do something with this site. And it probably went through 8 or 9 redesigns. At first it was a simple portfolio site, but then I decided to turn it into a design blog and invite contributors – which proved to be a great move.

Before I started to dedicate time on SpyreStudios I launched FreelanceFolder (2007), because I wanted to share my thoughts and views on being a freelance designer and I eventually turned it into a multi-author blog. Then SpyreStudios became my primary focus.

Last year I launched Design-Newz, a site featuring hand-selected articles for designers. I started this site because I wanted to give back to the online design community and also because I thought it’d would be great to share all the awesome articles I read on a daily basis.

There are plenty of ‘Rockstars’ in our industry, but you’re one of the select few genuine rockstars being the Guitarist from The Gods of Now. Do you find music and design are two separate lives or do they intermingle?

What a great question! Well, I try not to mix design and music. In fact, I didn’t design my band’s website or logo. All I did was to show up at the photo-shoots haha It’s like working on a project for a friend or relative, I try to avoid this as much as possible. When I’m working on a design for a client I put myself in a certain frame of mind, a certain mood. And it’s a completely different vibe when I play music.

When I’m at work I’m a designer, when I’m on stage I’m a guitarist – and I just can’t see myself designing with a bottle of Jack on my desk. :)

You currently have an exciting project with Mason Hipp named MediaLoot in the pipeline . Can you give us any sneak preview of what’s in store?

Of course! MediaLoot will be a premium membership site offering design resources for designers. We’re currently working with a handful of great designers on creating those resources while we work on building the site. We’ll have textures, brushes, vectors, icons, templates and a lot of more – all for a very low monthly price.

Basically the idea behind this site if to offer a killer ‘design toolbox‘. Me and Mason got pretty sick of going through hundreds of pages on certain online marketplaces and stock graphics websites, so we’re building MediaLoot.

You often hire people to offer a helping hand as guest authors or designers for your blogs and projects. How do you ensure you gain good results from outsourcing?

Usually when I outsource a design-related task, whether graphic design or programming, it’s either because I don’t have time, or because I know someone else can do it better than I could. Once you realize other people can bring a fresh perspective to a project, that’s when it all starts to make sense.

When it comes to blogging, I see it more as a collaborative effort rather than outsourcing per se. I’m pretty close to the bloggers I hire to write and work on my blog(s) so they know what I like, what works for me and what doesn’t.

Finally, please list out any social networks where users can find you and connect.

Twitter – Twitter.com/jophillips
Delicious – Delicious.com/jon.phillips
Flickr – Flickr.com/people/phillipsjon/
StumbleUpon – Stumbleupon.com/stumbler/jphillpis/
Facebook – Facebook.com/jo.phillips

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December 14 2009

07:00

November 16 2009

07:00

How to Create an Author Info Section in Wordpress

It’s common to find an author’s credit and bio at the end of a blog post, especially on blogs that post content from multiple writers. Using a cocktail of Wordpress template tags, an info section can be easily put together to showcase the author’s Gravatar profile image, their name, link to their website and short bio.

Example author info section

A typical author info section sits at the bottom of a post, so we’ll add our code in the single.php Wordpress file. The aim is to display their name, linked to their personal homepage; automatically pull in their gravatar profile picture; and display a short bio.

Enter the autho info in Wordpress

Enter the User Info

The majority of this information is inserted into the Wordpress Users section of the admin panel, go ahead and create the user and fill out the relevant fields. Select the appropriate option for how the name should be displayed, enter the user’s website, and complete the Biographical Info.

Write out the HTML

<div id="author-info">
    <div id="author-image">
    	<a href="**Author Website**">**Author Gravatar**</a>
    </div>   
    <div id="author-bio">
        <h4>Written by <a href="**Author Website**">**Author Name**</a></h4>
        <p>**Author Description**</p>
    </div>
</div><!--Author Info-->

Open up your single.php theme file and write out the initial HTML code. The whole author info section is contained within the div of author-info. Within this, is a div containing the linked gravatar image, followed by a div containing the main author information, such as the author’s name set in a level 4 heading, and the paragraph awaiting the biographical information.

Style up the CSS

#main div#author-info {
	background: #eaeaec; padding: 10px; margin: 0 0 15px 0;
	-moz-border-radius: 8px;
	-webkit-border-radius: 8px;
	border-radius: 8px;
	overflow: auto;
}
	#main div#author-info div#author-image {
		float: left; margin: 0 10px 5px 0; border: 5px solid #DCDCE1;
	}

With the HTML in place, the CSS styling can be written out to move everything into place. Here the author-info div is styled up with a grey background, some padding around the edges and a bottom margin. A touch of border radius rounds off the corners and the author-image is floated to the left.

Adding the Wordpress Template Tags

<div id="author-info">
    <div id="author-image">
    	<a href="<?php the_author_meta('user_url'); ?>"><?php echo get_avatar( get_the_author_meta('user_email'), '80', '' ); ?></a>
    </div>   
    <div id="author-bio">
        <h4>Written by <?php the_author_link(); ?></h4>
        <p><?php the_author_meta('description'); ?></p>
    </div>
</div><!--Author Info-->

The dynamic functionality can then be added to the theme file with the use of Wordpress’ template tags. Here’s what’s used:

<?php the_author_meta('user_url'); ?>

The the_author_meta() template tag can be used to pull in various snippets of information about the user, in this case it’s used to find the author’s URL.

<?php echo get_avatar( get_the_author_meta('user_email'), '80', '' ); ?>

The get_avatar() template tag is used to grab the author’s gravatar, and the get_the_author_meta(’user_email’) tag is used to take the place of the user’s email in the parameters.

<?php the_author_link(); ?>

The the_author_link() template tag is used to simply drop in the author’s name, and automatically link it up to their website URL.

<?php the_author_meta('description'); ?>

Finally, the the_author_meta() tag is used once again, this time with the paramater to fetch the user’s description, also known as their biographical information.

Taking the idea further

With the range of template tags available to Wordpress, it’s easy to take things that extra step and add new features, why not consider the following in your theme?

Display all posts by user

<p>See all posts by  <?php the_author_posts_link(); ?> </p>

Display user’s post count

<p><?php the_author(); ?> has written <?php the_author_posts(); ?> posts on <?php bloginfo('name'); ?></p>

Link to user’s AIM address

<p><?php the_author(); ?>'s AIM address is <?php the_author_meta('aim'); ?></p>

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