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Heavyweight Help: The Complete Guide to Getting Started on Pinterest

Do you lie in bed at night dreaming of getting a link from some high-profile blog like ProBlogger that would send you thousands of visitors and give your blog the exposure you need to take it to the next level?

I’d rather have Pinterest.

Pins

Image by hydropeek, licensed under Creative Commons

Don’t get me wrong: I’d love to have Darren share a link with his audience to one of my photography marketing posts. However, the reality is that you’ll get far more traffic, exposure, and income from Pinterest, regardless of your niche.

I believe that blogs in any niche, not just DIY crafty blogs, are missing out on huge amounts of traffic and exposure if they are ignoring Pinterest. If you want to see your blog grow in leaps and bounds in 2013, you’ve got to pay attention to Pinterest.

Pinterest has been a huge part of the reason that my 22-month old blog that shares business and marketing tips for photographers has grown large enough and profitable enough to have replaced our entire household income.

One post alone, which was intentionally optimized for Pinterest, has been shared over 11,500 times and made over five figures of income in the last 6 months alone. I’ll tell you more about it and why it was so successful in a moment, so keep reading.

Because I want to make sure that you fully understand the power of Pinterest, I’m going to start with the very basics before digging into the good stuff that will get you the blog success you’re looking for.

Honestly, if you’re short on time and don’t want to join another social network, you don’t have to have a profile and can simply read about how to make your blog more likely to be pinned. However, at least read through the basics and info about using Pinterest accounts so that you have a better understanding of what’s going on and how to apply that to your blog.

Here’s what I’m going to cover:

  • What is Pinterest?
  • Why care about Pinterest?
  • Basics of using Pinterest
  • Strategies for using your Pinterest account
  • Get your pins maximum exposure
  • Get more traffic to your blog using Pinterest
  • Pinterest tools for bloggers

So let’s dive right in.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a visual bookmarking site with a strong sharing structure.

Anatomy of a Pin

People “pin” photos or videos with links back to their original sources onto “boards” and a “description” that shows under neat the photo or video. These pins are then shown on the main Pinterest page, from newest to oldest, to all of the followers of that person.

Pinterest's Hover options

If someone sees a pin that they think is interesting, they can hover over the image and choose to “repin” it directly to one of their boards, or they can “like” it or “comment” on it.

Embedded video on Pinterest

When videos are pinned, they can be viewed from right within Pinterest. It’s a great way to grow your YouTube presence and get more viewers.

Who uses Pinterest and what do they use it for?

Pinterest users are mostly women, who trust it more than Facebook or Twitter, although there are a growing number of men on the site.

Pinterest is a place where people dwell on the life they’ve always longed for and where they collect inspiring or useful morsels of information that make their life better. They plan their weddings, imagine their dream homes, long for their ideal wardrobe and collect snippets of inspiration that encourage them to be a better person. A person’s Pinterest boards are a collection of what they they wish they were, so it can be a very powerful place to market your business.

Why care about Pinterest?

Traffic

Pinterest can bring a lot of traffic to your blog, which you can then convert into subscribers and buyers. It drives more traffic than Google+, Linkedin, and YouTube combined, more traffic than Twitter, and Pinterest drives more sales than Facebook.

The thing that seems to set Pinterest apart from Facebook or Twitter is that there’s less conversation going on to get in the way of sharing links. Yes, you can leave comments and tag people on pins, but the focus is much greater on sharing, making this the perfect platform for your posts to go viral.

Grow your business

Pinterest is a great place to strengthen your brand, and can be used for an “about me” board or if you have several staff or bloggers, you can pin a photo of each person with a description and a link to learn more about them on an About us page on your blog. Create boards that would appeal to your ideal readers and they’ll feel a stronger affinity towards your blog.

It’s easy to promote your products, do market research, and provide resources to your current community. It’s even a great place to find ideas of things to blog about, particularly if you’re in the craft, DIY, food, or fashion niches (although any niche could find ideas on Pinterest).

Basics of using Pinterest

Now that you’ve heard about all the benefits of Pinterest, let’s dive into the mechanics of how to use it.

Getting started

Business profile or personal profile?

Pinterest allows you to create either a personal account or a business account. While they work the same way, you’ll have to decide which one fits your situation best.

Pinterest Boards and Profile

Number 1 imageYou’ll start by setting up your profile. Add an image and description of yourself or your blog and link to your various sites. You can put a URL in the description, but it will display as text and not as an actual link unless you verify your website through Pinterest.

You’ll also be selecting a username that will be part of your Pinterest URL, so you may choose to use specific keywords here for better SEO if you’re setting it up for your business instead of as your name.

Number 2 imageRight under your visible profile, you’ll see a menu with your stats and where you can choose to view your boards, pins, or likes or view the information behind the stats. By clicking on “Followers” you can see the people who are following you and decide if you’d like to follow them back or not. You can also edit your profile or change the order of your boards using the middle button.

Number 3 imageThis displays your various boards. This is the default view that people see when they visit your profile, so it’s important that you put the boards you most want them to see first. As most of my readers are photographers, I put some of the boards I’ve created as resources for them first and foremost. You can also hover over the board cover and edit it to be a different pin as the large image, otherwise it defaults to the most recently pinned image for that board. You can also reposition the image if you so desire.

There’s also the option to create collaborative boards, where you can invite other people to pin on that board as well. You’ll see this option when you’re setting up individual boards.

In addition, you can create three private boards that you share with people. These boards will not show up for other people when they view your profile, and the pins will not show up in your feed. You can share this with other people who will be able to add to the board. You can change a private board to a public board, but once a board has become public it can no longer be made private. Public boards cannot be made private.

Number 4 imageThis menu is where you can manually add pins and learn more about Pinterest and the tools they offer. If you select the menu with your name, you have links to your boards, pins, and likes and you also can find and invite friends to join Pinterest. There’s also a link to goodies here that lets you install a Pin it button on your browser’s bookmark bar that lets you pin any image and YouTube videos that you see online while browsing.

The Pinterest homepage

By clicking on the Pinterest logo, you’ll be taken to the main page, which is much like the newsfeed on Facebook.

Pinterest Main Page

This is where you’ll see pins from the people you are following. Pins are shown from newest (top) to oldest (bottom), and there’s no algorithm for how pins are ranked. They simply appear based on time.

From here, you can repin the pins you see onto your boards, or you can like the pins or comment on them.

You can also use the links at the top under the Pinterest logo to show everything being pinned at the moment (or everything in a certain category), only videos, popular pins, and gifts by price.

Other useful things to know

To add a price tag to your pins, simply put the price in the description.

A gift price tag

You can tag people in your posts by adding the “@” before their name. You must be following at least one of their boards to tag them, however.

Finally, there’s much discussion online about how using the hashtag before words will help you show up better in the search rankings when people search on Pinterest. However, this is not true in most of the searches I have done.

Using the # before a word only creates a link to a search for that word or for other pins also tagged with that specific hashtag. So if you use “#food” in your description, it takes you to the search results for “food” or “#food” and doesn’t rank you better in general.

16 Strategies for using your Pinterest account

The best way to use your Pinterest account is to share lots of content that complements your own content. Yes, you can share your own stuff, but make sure there’s lots of helpful things from other people there as well. It’s one of the best ways to get loyal followers who love your pins.

So, what kinds of things should you pin? How do you make the most of your Pinterest account?

1. Pin resources for your commmunity

My audience is mainly photographers, so I have several posing boards and boards with business advice (both from my blog and from others’ blogs).

For my wedding photography clients, I pin lots of wedding inspiration ideas: decorations, venue ideas, DIY wedding projects, cakes, rings, you name it. The possibilities are endless.

A great way to find good content for your boards is to use the search from within Pinterest to find popular pins of a certain topic and simply repin them to your own boards. Super simple and fast.

2. Customize boards for individual clients

If you’re a graphic designer, create a collaborative board where both you and your client can pin inspiration. If you sell real estate, create boards with home listings for specific clients that fit what they’re looking for in a home.

3. Sell stuff

Post images of things you sell and link back to your sales page. Add the price to the description using currency symbols to have it show up in the corner.

4. Offer coupons and promotions using Pinterest

Create a coupon or sales board where you list current promotions for your audience to see.

5. Create round-up boards on a certain topic

Go through your blog archives and create pins of your favorite content within a certain category. Then promote this board on your blog. Not only will you get extra traffic, you’ll get people digging into your archives and reading some of your best content.

6. Do a Pinterest contest or scavenger hunt

Have people search your blog for specific posts and images and pin them to a board. Then, leave a link to that board somewhere in order for the pinners to be entered into a contest. Or, have them search through your own boards and repin your own pins.

7. Network with other pinners in your niche or field

Since I’m a photographer, Pinterest is a great way for me to showcase other wedding vendors and tag them in the pins so that they can see the images of the products they provide.

Promoting other vendors or bloggers in your field is a great way to get their attention and start building relationships.

8. Create a community or collaborative board

Ask your readers to volunteer to create a board on a specific topic with pins from around the web. It will build loyalty to your brand and help readers identify more strongly with your business.

9. Find inspiration for your business

Have writer’s block? Search Pinterest to see what popular things in your niche are being pinned. If you’re a designer, check out popular designs in your field. Note what other pinners in your field are doing, and see what kinds of boards get them the most followers.

10. Create a review board

Have a board of reviews of various products that your audience would find helpful. If you sell your own product, collect reviews about it on a board as well.

11. Testimonial board

Much like the review board, except that you can put an image of the product up with the testimonial in the description. Bonus points for tagging the testimonial writer in your description. This is also a great place to put client success stories.

12. Grow your email list by pinning your free resource

If you offer a free resource in exchange for signing up to your list, Pinterest can be a great way to get more exposure. People love free things and tend to repin them like crazy if they’re really great resources.

13. Behind the scenes

Create a board showing the behind-the-scenes workings of your business and give people the feeling that they’re an insider if they follow your board.

14. Cover an event “Live” via Pinterest

Pin images from a live event to encourage people to follow you and bring more exposure to your event.

15. Create supplemental material boards

If you teach workshops or do online webinars, create a board with supplemental content and resources on it for your attendees to explore.

16. Learn more about your community

Follow several of your readers to learn more about their interests and what appeals to them. It’s a great way to see what they really dream of and long for in life and business.

Get your pins maximum exposure

Now that you’ve got all these awesome ideas to implement, here’s a few extra tips to make sure that your pins get maximum exposure.

The best time to post on Pinterest

According to Pinerly, the best times to post on Pinterest are between 2pm-4pm EST and again from 8pm-1am EST.

Optimize your pins and boards

Always write good descriptions. Use words that people might search for in the search bar to make your pin or board more likely to be found.

Use calls to action in descriptions to help encourage people to do what you want them to do. Want them to repin or comment? Want them to click through to the post? Ask them to. One call to action per pin is best.

To encourage engagement on your pins and increase the chance of them becoming popular, ask questions and tag people using the @ symbol to help get more comments.

You can put links inside the descriptions, but remember that these links are no-follow links.

Unlike Facebook, people are more likely to repin than to comment on a pin. Leaving comments on pins is a great way to stick out, gain exposure, and gain followers. Thoughtful comments on other peoples’ pins can go a long way, especially if you also tag someone else in it and get them engaged as well.

Getting lots of comments, repins, and likes quickly is the best way to get a pin to show up on the Popular tab of the main page and show up higher in the Pinterest search results, so you want to do everything you can to encourage interaction with your pins.

Make sure that all your pins go back to the original source of the image and not to a Google images page or to a blog homepage that will be updated and no longer relevant once the image falls below the most recent content.

When you create your boards, give them good descriptions and categorize them for the highest chance of getting extra exposure to them.

Share your pins on Facebook and Twitter

Pinterest automatically integrates with Facebook and Twitter, so get more exposure for your pins by also sharing them on Facebook and Twitter.

Getting more traffic to your blog using Pinterest

So how do you get people to start pinning your content so that you can get a piece of this traffic that you’ve heard so much about? Here are several things you can do to encourage people to pin your stuff.

Put an image in every single post you write

Pinterest is all about images. No image = no one pins your stuff. I know that it’s annoying to have to take the extra time to add images, but if you want Pinterest traffic, you have to do it.

I have found that Dreamstime has a decent selection of free commercial-use stock images that you can use, and you can always scour Flickr and other sites for images that have a Creative Commons usage license attached to them. I’ve found that these sites take a lot longer to sort through and often throw up low-quality images.

So what kind of images work best?

Beautiful, eye-catching images that are bright and appeal to emotions tend to do better than other images. Many of the popular pins are simply cute animals, particularly puppies.

Adding text to your images can increase engagement several times over. I personally like to add the name of my blog title to my image to encourage people to click through and see what it’s about. This both increases engagement and helps you to attract people who will click through to read the content. I suggest using Adobe Photoshop Elements or Gimp (which is a free download) to put text on your images.

Simple text-only quotes also work extremely well. Short words with few syllables and simple and understandable quotes do best.

This mini-tutorial image that summarizes a longer more-detailed post about how to shoot Christmas tree lights has been pinned over 35,000 times in less than two months and incorporates images, text, and valuable content that gets shared like crazy on Pinterest. This is an example of why I believe Pinterest is more valuable than a single link share from a big blog.

How to shoot christmas tree lights

Image used with permission

Still want more ideas about how to make sharable images for Pinterest? See this three-step guide to creating Pinterest-friendly graphics for your blog.

Put Pin it links in your captions

If you’ve updated to WordPress 3.4 or higher, you can now put links in your captions. Use the Pin it button creator to get the link you need to insert a Pin it button into your captions.

There are also Pinterest plugins that will do this for you automatically. I’ll list some of them in the tools section below.

Pin your landing pages

By sending people to your landing pages, you’ll help retain some of the traffic you get from Pinterest—and you can guide them through your sales or content funnel. This tends to help retain readers more effectively than through traffic to random pages that may not convert readers to followers as easily.

Use infographics

If you’ve got statistics to share, infographics are very popular on Pinterest. Infogr.am is a great free tool for making your own infographics that look amazing.

Protect your copyrighted images and graphics

If you are a photographer or graphic designer, add a watermark to any images you post on your site. This way, people will know the source of the image even if a pinner doesn’t link directly to the place you’ve posted it on your website.

If you do not want people to pin content from your website at all, you can add the following code to the header section of your site. It prevents people from pinning images from your site:

<meta name="pinterest" content="nopin">

You can put this on specific pages or posts or apply it to your entire site. While this will protect your images, you’ll lose out on huge potential for traffic and exposure if you do, so I do not recommend it.

Add Pin it buttons to your posts

Adding Pin it buttons to your posts makes it easy for readers to pin your content. You can use the free Pin it button creator to make each button individually, or use one of the plugins listed below to add it automatically—and make things easier on yourself.

Make it easy for people to follow you on Pinterest

Get your own “Follow me on Pinterest” button in the Goodies section of Pinterest. Put this in your sidebar, on your about page, and anywhere else you’d like to invite people to follow you. Here’s what one of them looks like:

Follow me button

You can also grab the URLs from your boards and link to them directly so that people can follow the boards that are most relevant to them.

Pinterest tools

Here’s a list of various Pinterest tools that you may find helpful.

  • Pin Count: See the pin count for a specific page or post on your blog. Just enter your URL.
  • See recent pins from your site: Want to see what people are pinning from your site in general? Go to www.Pinterest.com/source/yourdomain.com/ to see. For example, to see what people are pinning on ProBlogger you’d type in http://pinterest.com/source/problogger.net It doesn’t show you everything, but it will show you several recent pins if they exist.
  • Pinerly: Track your pins to see which perform the best and which of your boards and pins are most popular. The Pinerly Blog is also one of my favorite places to get information about what works best on Pinterest.
  • PinReach: This service gives you a Pinterest influence score similar to an Alexa ranking for your blog, as well as showing you most popular pins, your most influential followers, and other interesting information such as currently trending pins and users.
  • DIY Pinterest Analytics: If you’re super-geeky (like me) or want a very detailed way of tracking the ROI of your Pinterest campaigns, this three-part series will give you a great method for tracking the effectiveness of your pins. It’s not for the faint of heart when it comes to statistics! Most useful to people in corporate social media managing roles where you have to justify the usefulness of Pinterest to your business.
  • Pinterest “Pin It” Button Plugin: This is a free WordPress plugin that lets you select the default image and description to be displayed or let people select their own image. Lots of options that make this a great choice for bloggers. This is the plugin that I found works best on my marketing blog for photographers.
  • Pinterest WordPress Plugin by Tofurious: This Premium WordPress plugin automatically adds a Pin it button under every image in your posts and gives you the option to exclude specific images. It allows you to create a custom Pin it button (good for matching your current branding and creating direct calls to action) and allows you to insert a button at the top or bottom of posts as desired. It’s recommended for photographers, designers, food bloggers, DIY bloggers, and anyone with image-heavy content. Current price: $25.
  • Pretty Pinterest Pins Plugin: This one’s a free WordPress plugin that allows you to display your most recent pins in your sidebar as large pins. Can be filtered to only show pins from a certain category, and gives you the option to add a Follow Me button as well.
  • Pinterest RSS Widget Plugin: This free WordPress plugin allows you to display your most recent pins in your sidebar as small icons arranged in a grid. They can be filtered to show only pins from a certain category.
  • Wisestamp: Add a Follow me on Pinterest link, and links to other social media accounts at the end of your emails with this free tool.
  • Infogr.am: This service lets you create really great-looking infographics with ease, and is free.
  • Share as Image: Pin any quote as an image using this tool. There’s a simple free version, or a premium version for $6.99. It’s not necessary if you have photoshop or any other program that lets you create an image from text, but it’s handy and easy to use if you don’t have that capability.
  • Pinterest RSS Feed Direct Links: You can follow any Pinterest user using the following link: http://pinterest.com/jamiemswanson/feed.rss where you’d substitute jamiemswanson for the username you’d want to follow. You can also follow specific boards using the following URL (where you’d replace jamiemswanson with the username and blogging-resources for the board name you want to follow): http://pinterest.com/jamiemswanson/blogging-resources.rss

If you’re nerdy enough (and I say that in a loving way!) you could get creative with how you display pins on your site using the RSS feeds, but it’s easier to use one of the plugins above to do that for you if you’re not too picky.

So … does it work?

Yes. Yes it does.

Remember the post I mentioned earlier that has been pinned over 11,500 times and has made me over five figures of income alone on my young blog? Here’s exactly what happened.

The pinned post explains why I switched from delivering images to clients on DVDs to Flash Drives. That’s not super exciting, but it’s a solid post that explains my decision and addresses several hesitations that I know people have about switching over. It also contains an affiliate link to the company where I purchase my flash drives.

One of the hesitations I knew photographers would have was how to package them before sending them to their clients. So I took a few photos of my packaging to use as images in the post.

I used a few images in the post, but created a separate image that was tall, contained them all, and had the name of my post at the bottom of it. Tall images get more space in the Pinterest page, and the text told people that this was more than just images of packaging for flash drives.

I used the Pinterest “Pin It” Button plugin setting that let me select a custom default image (the tall Pinterest-optimized image I’d created) that people would pin when they clicked the Pin it button, instead of using the single images that were found in the post. While not everyone used those buttons to pin, many people did.

The image spread like wildfire on Pinterest. I got my highest day of traffic ever the day that post went live, and it came primarily from Pinterest.

Not only that, but the network continues to get me an average of over 300 pageviews per day—months later without any extra promotion from me. It’s almost entirely because of Pinterest pins. This results in constant income month after month simply from the extended exposure.

A link from a high-profile blog might get you a huge spike in traffic for a week or so, but I’ve never seen a link bring the long-term traffic that Pinterest can bring.

Have you tried Pinterest?

I want to hear your stories. Have you tried Pinterest, or are you still hesitating? If you’ve taken the plunge, which posts on your blog have received the most exposure from Pinterest? Why do you think they’ve been so successful? What hasn’t worked for you at all? Tell me about it below in the comments and let’s really dig in and share with each other.

But first, take a few seconds to pin this post and give ProBlogger a bit of a Pinterest boost. Let’s make 2013 the year of Pinterest for bloggers!

Contributing author Jamie M Swanson writes meaty posts about online marketing for photographers with easy-to-understand steps for totally rocking your business over at The Modern Tog. She is a Wisconsin Wedding Photographer who dreams of owning lots of land where her family can run and play and she can garden to her heart’s content.

Triple Your Facebook Likes in Two Weeks

This guest post is by Samuel of Internet Dreams.

Would you like some more cake after having a first slice?

Most of us wouldn’t be satisfied with just one slice of cake, so we end going back to the table and grabbing a second one. Heck, some of us would go for a third or fourth slice if we could!

For bloggers, the same goes for likes on Facebook. Facebook is like that party you want to go to—and it’s a big one since Facebook is the largest social network on the planet.

Most blog owners I know would love to get more likes on their Facebook pages.

Today, I want to share how I tripled my Facebook likes. This technique worked to help me get the Likes I wanted to see.

The right way to use Facebook ads to gain Likes

This technique is going to require some money, but it’s a small investment that’s worth every penny.

I’m a student that really doesn’t have much money at all.

But still, I can find a way to make the right investment for my blog. Just a small outlay—in my case, $5 a day—can propel your blog to new heights.

It helped me get thousands of new Likes for my Facebook page in a few weeks!

Let’s step through the best way to create an ad quickly, and use Facebook to target the people who are most likely to be interested in your blog.

4 Easy steps to tripling your Facebook Likes

Step 1. Create a new ad space in Facebook

First off, log into your Facebook account, look for the Ads option in the sidebar.

Create a new ad, and insert the URL to your Facebook page.

1. Choose the Get More Page Likes option

As you can see in the image below, there are several options you can take in order to grow your brand’s presence on Facebook.

get-more-page-likes

But for our purposes today, choose the first option. This can be one of the best ways to spend your money on Facebook!

2. Design your Facebook ad

edit-ad

This part needs to be well thought out, so take your time with it. Your ad is what all of those users will see—it needs to convince them to like your page.

Make the ad unique—something that will make users want to Like or check out your Facebook page. Consider your audience, and think about a message that will make them feel good about your brand or page.

I used the tagline “Want Your Dreams To Come True On The Internet?” It’s worked really well for me and has gotten the attention of many on Facebook.

3. Optimize your ad for the “right” people

choose-audience

What we want to do here is target the right people and get the most targeted Likes that we can.

Your topic or type of Facebook page might be different then what I chose, but take a look to see how each area is edited to best target my audience.

The arrows in the image above point out the most important areas that you need to edit.

Go over your blog and identify the most important keywords that you can use for the ad. Those keywords will be turned into topics that can be used as interest keywords.

Also, I like to target English-speaking countries since they seem the most responsive to my offers and updates.

4. Set up your money and budget for the ad

campaign-pricing

How much you spend is up to you. If you are looking to triple your likes in the shortest time possible, add as much money as you can to the campaign budget.

I personally started with a budget of $5 per day, which gave me a chance to see if the ad was performing at its best.

Also, set your pricing to Cost per Click, as this keeps it simple and ensured you’re only charged for user actions.

The $5-per-day budget has really worked for me, and let me triple my likes for Internet Dream’s Facebook page. Plus, I was able to do that very quickly and gather such an amazing amount of targeted likes.

Step 2. Network and connect

Of course, don’t forget good old networking and connecting as the most organic, and cost-effective way of encouraging others to check out your Facebook page.

Building real relationships is the deepest way to give other users a good impression of yourself. Have friendly conversations with the people you connect with on Facebook, and offer to help with your answers to their questions. Once you’ve done that, you can suggest the person Like your page

Here’s an example of a message I use on Facebook after I have connected with someone:

facebook-connection-thankyou-message

As you can see, I thank them for connecting with me, which encourages them to feel good about themselves and our connection.

I also direct them to my Facebook page and invited them to Like it, since people are more inclined to act if you ask them to.

There are many ways to connect on Facebook, and some of the situations you may face now could give you the change to gain a nice Facebook Like. Here are a few examples:

  • email conversions
  • commenting
  • Twitter conversation
  • Facebook profile status
  • Facebook friendship connection “Like the example above”
  • any form of conversation with a human being on the other side of the screen!

Step 3. Add a “Please like this blog on Facebook” CTA to your blog

If users land on your blog, they should appreciate it if it has a usable design and offers great content.

The main focal point of any blog is the article. This is your chance to rack up some free Likes.

At the beginning or end of the article, include a linked CTA to Like your Facebook page. Make it stand out, so it’s clearly visible to the eyes scanning your article.

Also placing your Like CTA in the sidebar will make it visible all of the time, no matter where the visitor is on your blog.

Internetdreams facebook like box

This makes the Like CTA persistent, even though it is not as effective as the CTA in the article. I made the mistake of placing the CTA too low in the sidebar, and just recently bumped it up, which has given me more Likes.

4. Use plugins to help you generate Likes more easily

There are several plugins that can help you get Likes for your Facebook page. Some are paid, but some are free for you to use.

One technique I use for my blog that helps me get likes is through the Thank You for Commenting page that I set up for my blog, which is shown below. This is a fine way to connect with those new users who have just commented on your blog. Asking them to like your Facebook page on your Thank You page can be a great way to get an extra Like.

Internetdreams thankyou page

As you can see, I ask users to follow or Like Internet Dreams on Twitter and Facebook.

A great plugin to use in this situation is the Comment Redirect plugin by Yoast. This free plugin will help you redirect your commenter to the right page after they comment—you’ll need to make sure to set up the Thank You for Commenting page like mine above.

Some other plugins I’ve found helpful for getting more Likes include:

Who wouldn’t like more Likes?

In this post, I have shown you some of the techniques I’ve used to rack up some new Likes.

I have found these methods to be the most rewarding, and I’ve worked really hard on each of them to fully enjoy the benefits they provide. The results are reflected in the title of this post—but only through the hard work I have put in order to receive those results.

I cannot guarantee the same results for you, since this largely depends how much work you are willing to put in. But I can promise you that with the hard work you put in through these four steps, the results will come.

What are some ways you get more Facebook Likes? Share them with us in the comments.

Want to reach higher goals with these top wordpress plugins? Maybe learn how to get more followers? I am Samuel and I own Internet Dreams. Internet Dreams is a place where you can engage and learn how to set up and succeed with your blog or site.

Four Simple Traffic Strategies for a Post-Panda and -Penguin World

This guest post is by Lisa Angelettie.

For many years, there were bloggers who could follow a few basic SEO rules, publish a post, wait for Google to spider and rank it, and watch the traffic flow in.

In fact, many of these bloggers made a living primarily from the incoming traffic that Google sent them. All that rapidly and dramatically ended for many businesses after Google’s Panda and Penguin updates.

Did these bloggers commit an online business blunder? Absolutely. How many times have you heard that you should never depend on one source of traffic to your website? I know I’ve heard it about a million times over the years, but the reality is that a lot of bloggers don’t really know how to actively get traffic to their sites from other than the search engines.

Here are a few blog promotion essentials to get traffic flowing to your posts from a variety of sources and none of them have anything to do with search engines reliance.

1. Share posts on your social media networks

Bloggers have one big advantage that many business owners who started years ago don’t, and that’s the leverage of social media. After you’ve written and published your post, naturally, the very first thing you need to do is to announce that post to the folks in your social media networks. Remember, though, that if you write a post at 2am, you’ll want to wait to announce it to social media sites when your followers are most active.

The social sites that have been proven to generate traffic include: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Make sure that you have included social media sharing buttons on your blog, too—many bloggers still haven’t. WordPress now offers social media integration through their WordPress plugin Jetpack, you could use Wibiya’s social media sharing bar or try a variety of other free social media WordPress plugins available at WordPress.org.

One more note: I can’t talk about social media without talking about SEO. One can influence and improve the other.

Search engines like Google have been saying for a long time now that social signals matter when it comes to search rankings. So the more you build up your social influence with more tweets, more likes, more shares, and more pins of your content, the more likely Google is likely to view your content as authoritative and rank it accordingly. The Bing search engine now includes social influence ranking tool Klout in their social sidebar.

Bottom line: if you’ve been avoiding it or playing around with it, it’s time to get serious about becoming more social.

2. Announce posts to your circle of influence

This is a strategy that many bloggers avoid like the plague. One of the cool things about blogging is that you can write what you want, when you want, and try a lot of cool things on your blog without having to get anyone’s approval.

Unfortunately that “alone on an island” approach doesn’t work when it comes to getting actual readers to your blog. It takes a village to raise a blog!

Identify and build a circle of people who you can let know that your blog post is live and will share it with their lists and their social media communities. The circle doesn’t have to be big. Even if you only know two people, that will put your content in front of a lot more eyes than doing it all on your own. These could be friends who also blog, coaches you’ve worked with, or alliances you’ve made on social media.

To communicate with my circle of influence, I created a very small private group on Facebook, invited them to join, and now we announce each other’s articles there so we can easily share and link to them. There are also a few other more prominent bloggers who I send a personal email to and they share my content. One blogger recently mentioned me to his list which resulted in over 142 confirmed subscribers to my list over a 48 hour period. That’s great for one email!

Think of two people you could reach out to today and ask them would they be willing to enter a mutual blog promotion relationship. Most bloggers are going to say yes.

3. Promote posts on blogging communities

I use to think blogging communities were a waste of time. I was wrong. Many of the bloggers who are getting major traffic to their sites are very active in blogging communities and have been for a long time. These are the types of like-minded people that you want to meet and start building relationships with.

  • Promote their content on these communities.
  • Friend them on the communities.
  • Share their posts on social media.
  • Write guest posts for them.

When you do, you’ll begin to become a part of a “clique” of bloggers who support and champion each other.

Communities that are my favorites include BlogEngage.com, Bloggers.com, Inbound.org, FamousBloggers.net, Blokube.com and ViralContentBuzz.com.

4. Announce your posts to your list

The biggest ambassadors of my content are my email subscribers, but oddly enough, a lot of bloggers forget all about this. Some bloggers have tunnel vision and are only worried about “new traffic” coming to their sites, but an essential source of traffic to any blog is return visitors.

Return visitors clearly enjoy your content and are much more likely to give word-of-mouth referrals, share your content to their social networks, comment on your posts and act on any call to actions you may have included in your articles.

To get subscriber traffic, make sure that you offer ample opportunities and incentives for visitors to opt into your list: top of site, right sidebar, after posts, in guest posts, etc.

It’s also important to give subscribers more than one opportunity to read your posts. For example, I send out a newsletter that features one new article on my site at the top of the week, but then I send another email towards the end of the week giving a wrap up of all the articles that have been published on the blog in the last few days. This helps ensure that I get regular return visitor traffic to my site every week.

What are some of the blog promotion strategies you use to drive more traffic to your site? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Lisa Angelettie is a copywriting and content marketing strategist who teaches entrepreneurs how to make more money with web content. Download a copy of her free eBook Publishing Guide or visit her site for more tips like these.

A New Theme, Part 2: When Your New Theme Crashes Your Blog

This guest post is by Ayelet Weisz of All Colores.

Yesterday, we talked about preparing your blog for a theme upgrade. You read it, worked through all the steps, and now you’re ready to go.

So you get up on Saturday morning and sit down to work, a breeze coming through the window. You turn on some music as you browse through potential new themes for your blog. You find one and click Install.

Excited that you’ve found the perfect match for your blog, you click Activate.

Then you see this message:

Fatal error: Call to undefined function wp_get_theme() in /home/colores/public_html/allcolores.com/wp-content/themes/path/library/functions/utility.php on line 119

You think to yourself, “Fatal error?! I better refresh the page!”

Then you discover that fatal means fatal. Not only do visitors have no ability to access your blog—you have no ability to access your dashboard!

Not even if you left an additional tab of it open. Moving backward in your browser might work, yet any other function you attempt takes you right back to the fatal error message. Is your blog lost for good?

Why would a site crash on theme installation?

Like houses, some themes are built better than others. Files in the theme might have been tempered with or coded incorrectly, or the theme might require a more updated WordPress version than you’re using.

As you browse through themes online and explore their demo sites, there is no way for you to guess which theme would cause your blog to crash. In fact, the tech support agent in the hosting company I use said there’s some chance that the same theme that crashed one site would work fine on another one.

Either way, unless you’re the one who created the theme, it’s likely not your fault that this happened.

The best times to crash your site

Let’s face it—there is never a good time to crash your site.

However, if it must happen, the least harmful times are:

1. When your largest audience is asleep

If you can experiment with your blog when it is night time or very early in the morning in the time zone of your largest audience, that would be best. This way, the majority of your visitors won’t be bothered by bizarre, constant changes to your blog, and the quality of their stay won’t be ruined. Moreover, these visitors might never know something had ever gone wrong with your theme upgrade.

2. When your second-largest audience is enjoying a weekend

A weekend in one country might not fall at the same time as a weekend in another country. Weekend days in the United States, for example, are Saturday and Sunday. In Israel, on the other hand, the weekend starts on Friday evening and ends on Saturday evening. Folks get up early and go to work on Sundays.

If you plan to do any kind of work on your site and you can’t work on everyone’s night time—or anyone’s night time, for that matter—make sure you do your blog changes on a weekend. Some people, though not all, spend less time on their computer on weekends. Instead, they hang out with other people who have the day or two off … leaving you to take care of your blog.

Now that you’ve picked a good time to flip the switch, let’s see what you can do to minimize downtime that arises if your installation goes wrong.

If it all goes wrong

If your site crashes after you installed or activated a theme, there are a few things you can do.

Option #1. Put on the tech hat

Since the theme caused your website to crash, you need to erase the theme from your dashboard.

However, if you’ve lost access to your dashboard, you need to log in to your control panel on the hosting company’s website and erase it there.

Following that, reactivate WordPress’s basic theme—the one that showed up when you first installed WordPress. It’s either Twenty Ten or Twenty Eleven.

You data is usually safe in this case—the fatal error turns out not to be so fatal after all. Once you switch back to the basic theme, you’ll be able to log in both to your blog and your dashboard. Switch back to the theme you had earlier, before you tried changing it, and everything will be back to normal.

This process will undoubtedly require you to delve into technical tasks. If you are not tech-oriented and fear you might cause a truly fatal error, check out option #2.

Option #2. Contact your hosting company’s tech support team

The challenge you’re facing was caused due to a WordPress theme. Therefore, it might make sense to contact the theme’s creator or WordPress.org. It might—but contact your hosting company’s tech support anyway.

It took only ten minutes for my theme issue to be resolved once I started an online chat with a representative from my web host.

Note that you might need to provide your billing email address and password for security verification purposes. Then, the agent will do what was specified in the previous section—she or he will remove the malfunctioning theme from your system and reactivate the basic WordPress theme that came with your blog when you first launched it.

Make sure to ask the person assisting you to stay on the line while you verify that returning to your previously-regular theme causes no issues, and then go off on your merry way.

Fatal doesn’t always mean fatal

The most important part of this process is, of course, to breathe. Remember that there are plenty of sources to get information and support. Blogs like ProBlogger, WordPress message boards, Facebook and LinkedIn groups for bloggers, good ol’ Google and your hosting company are just a few examples.

Mishaps happen. Hopefully, a little quick research and asking for help will help you resolve them in no time—and you might even gain new knowledge and tools along the way.

And once the issue at hand is resolved, don’t forget to do a happy dance.

Has a theme ever crashed your blog? What did you do to fix the problem? Share your tips with us in the comments.

Ayelet Weisz is an enthusiastic freelance writer, blogger and screenwriter. She celebrates the everyday and extraordinaire joys of life on her travel blog, All Colores. Get her free report, 48 Must-Live Israeli Experiences, and connect with her on Twitter.

10 Essential WordPress Security Plugins For 2013

This guest post is by of The WordPress Security Checklist.

Now that we have left 2012 behind, we can start planning 2013. And there is no better time to review the security plugins you use on your WordPress site.

Last year important new security plugins were released, and some of the existing plugins were updated.

The great challenge when it comes to WordPress Security Plugins is to find the magic combination which gives you optimal cover without conflicts or overlapping functionality.

Here we bring you the winning combination for a prosperous (and safe) 2013.

Let the party begin!

Make sure only invited guests pop in

When you throw a big party, you’d best think about who you let in. Otherwise the party might get out of hand.

These clever little plugins are your broad-shouldered bouncers. And they mean business!

WP Login Security 2

This is a personal favorite of mine. It’s very clever.

If an unknown guest arrives at your party your bouncer will ask for ID, but you can walk straight in.

Similarly, the plugin will send a verification email to the registered email address of the user if he tries to log in from an unknown IP address. Only if he validates the IP address by clicking on a link in the email will he be allowed in.

This is a very effective way of stopping brute force attacks. Even if someone does guess your userid and password, they still can’t get in.

If, on the other hand, you log in from a known IP address, you are let in straight away.

Resources:

Semisecure Login Reimagined

At your party, the bouncer will make sure no one eavesdrops when you whisper the secret password in his ear.

Ideally you would want to send your login information over SSL when you access your WordPress administration panel. However, there is a cost involved in obtaining a SSL certificate and if you are on a shared server you would also need a dedicated IP address.

This plugin is the next best thing for those of us who’d rather spend our money on party hats.

It will automatically encrypt your login information so it is much more difficult for an outsider to steal your credentials.

Resources:

Login Security Solution

This is the mother of all bouncers. He will only accept photo ID, he can check the expiry date and you can tell him that library cards are no longer accepted. He can even throw out people who fall asleep on the premises.

Or, in technical terms: with this plugin, password strength is enforced, password aging is an option, and password resets for all users can be forced. And you can even log out idle sessions automatically.

Another clever feature of this plugin: instead of locking out IP addresses of brute force attackers it will slow down the response times gradually. This means that you can get your own password wrong without being locked out, and it will still make brute force attacks almost impossible.

Resources:

WordPress Firewall 2

This is the wall around your house that makes sure no one sneaks in through your backdoor or a window, bypassing your bouncers. It’s very important.

Windows Firewall 2 inspects all incoming traffic to identify if anyone sends you malicious requests or tries to inject data into your database.

Resources:

Block Bad Queries

This plugin is like the barbed wire or the broken glass on top of the wall. Yes, the internet is really a bad neighborhood!

BBQ extends your firewall and helps filter incoming traffic to stop known bad guys.

Resources:

Keeping tabs on what goes on in your house

Once your party is going you want to keep an eye on what is happening. If someone breaks your TV you’d like to know who’s responsible and how much damage was caused.

These plugins are your eyes and your ears. And they are awake!

WordPress File Monitor Plus

This is like having surveillance cameras in every room of your house and taping all the action. If anything goes down you can see exactly what happened.

WordPress File Monitor Plus tracks changes to your file system. If any files are added, removed, or changed you will be notified by email. Neat. Could be an invaluable help in cleaning up after you have had visitors!

Resources:

WP Security Scan

Although you love opening up your house for the big party, there are still some rooms you do want to keep away from your guests. Locking a few doors will make sure the cats can only play where you want them to.

WP Security Scan checks your file and folder permissions and a few other things to make sure everything that should be locked down is locked down.

Resources:

Curing the hangover

Depending on the success of your party you might end up with a bit of a hangover the day after. But we’ve got the cure for you.

Update Notifications

This good old trick could save you from getting a hangover in the first place: take a couple of headache tablets before you go to bed.

By using Update Notifications you’re stopping the headaches before they begin. Keep your WordPress site updated at all times and you won’t see the bulk part of the threats circulating the net. This plugin automatically sends you an email when there is an update for your plugins, themes, or core WordPress files.

Resources:

Wordfence

If you are not feeling well, knowing why can make the difference between recovering quickly or suffering for a long time. If you know you are dehydrated you can drink some water. If you know you have got an infection, penicillin might be the remedy you need.

Wordfence is one of the newer security plugins. However it has matured very quickly. One of the great features of Wordfence is that it will compare the plugin, theme, and WordPress core files on your installation with the official version in the WordPress repository. If there are any discrepancies, the plugin will send you an email.

It will also scan your site for known malware, phishing, backdoors, and virus infections.

Resources:

Sucuri WordPress Security Plugin

If you are really out of luck, you might pick up some kind of disease at your party. This is the risk of mingling with many people. In this case, you might have to go to the doctor.

Sucuri is more than just a security plugin. In fact, their WordPress plugin is probably one of their least-known products.

Sucuri is a company that specializes in cleaning up infected websites. If your luck is out and your site is infected, they will clean it for less than it would cost you in coffee if you wanted to figure it out on your own—provided you know what you are doing. And they will keep your site clean for a year after that.

The WordPress plugin adds a web application firewall and malware file scanning. The web application firewall will communicate with Sucuri servers, so if one site is under attack from certain IP addresses they can be blocked across the network immediately.

Resources:

Enjoy 2013!

With a little bit of preparation, you will be able to throw fantastic parties in 2013, and you and your guests can amuse themselves without worrying about accidents or bad guys ruining everything.

Make sure your WordPress site is in good shape and ready to bring you a very prosperous 2013!

Check out ’s free WordPress Security Checklist, which is all about protecting your WordPress assets properly and sleeping well at night.

Keep Your New Year’s Resolution: Set up a Social, Search-optimized WordPress Blog … Today

This guest post is by Marcela De Vivo of Gryffin.co.

Recently ProBlogger discussed how to brand your blog, how to find your voice, and how to build your authority.

Mouse

Image courtesy stock.xchng user panoramadi

These articles are powerful, but often I find myself speaking with people who don’t have a blog yet, or are using Blogger or custom made, cumbersome platforms. Just this week alone I went through these steps with four different people who want to jump on the blogging bandwagon.

In this article we will go back to basics for those who haven’t started their blog yet, or who are on platforms that are hindering their progress.

If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to improve your blogging presence—or start a new one—read on!

We’ll go through a step-by-step process, including tools and resources for each step, to set up a WordPress blog that is optimized for social and search marketing success.

Setting up your WordPress blog

WordPress is currently the most popular content management platform.  It can be used for static pages or as a blog.  You can add plugins for a shopping cart, image galleries, and much more.

Here’s how to set it up.

  1. Register your domain with sites like Register.com, Godaddy.com, or Enom.com
  2. Create a hosting account with sites like BlueHost.com, WPEngine, or HostGator.  If you would like to do more research on hosting companies, check out WhoIsHostingThis.
  3. Select a WordPress theme. I personally love using StudioPress as the themes are clean, functional, and easy to work with. Search for a responsive theme so your blog will be accessible to mobile users.
  4. Is your site running on a different CMS or platform? Consider using a blog migration service, such as BlogWranglers, to move your current site over to WordPress. Hundreds of thousands have done it, with no regrets.
  5. Upload WordPress to your hosting account, and customize with your relevant theme.  If you are not a techie, this is the part where you’ll need some help.  Check out Elance.com, Freelancer.com, or a site like Craiglist.org to find someone who can help you set up and customize your template.
  6. Install WordPress plugins.

Let’s take a deeper look at the plugins you’ll need.

Setting up your plugins

Social media

These are the social media plugins I recommend you consider.

SEO plugins

My favorite SEO plugins include these ones.

Usability

Usability plugins can be a huge help. Consider these:

Doing keyword research

To gain exposure from search engines, you need to have your blog focused on a theme. Select a primary keyword within this general theme for each page of the site.  You can read more about keyword research in this ProBlogger article.

Select keywords by identifying low-competition and high-search terms for your industry from Google’s Keyword tool.

Other tools you can use include:

.

Prepare content for your static pages and images

While a designer/programmer is working on setting up your site, you can start by writing and preparing content for your site.

A well-optimized page includes the primary keywords in the Title of the page, Meta Description tag, H1 tag, once or twice in the body, and in an outbound link.

As you’re preparing your content, remember these elements of an excellent blog post:

        • Post title: creative and compelling
        • Social share icons: make sharing your content easy
        • Image: an image speaks louder than words
        • Opening paragraph: include keywords in a teaser into the introduction
        • Body copy: use headers and bold words
        • Lists: make your content easy to scan
        • Conclusion: include a teaser for your next article
        • Related posts: give them more content to consume
        • Comment section: Always respond to comments

Read Darren’s compilation from earlier this year for more information on each element in The Anatomy of a Better Blog Post.

Connect your site for optimum findability

By this point you should have a WordPress blog with a range of enhancements made possible by plugins and other customizations.  You will have SEO plugins to improve your on-page SEO, page load times, keyword density, site maps, and other relevant SEO features.

You will also have a selection of social plugins so that you can encourage social shares from your site. You will have other features such as contact forms, tracking, reporting, and an email signup box to build your email list.

Incorporating keyword research will help you to deliver the content that people are looking for in a way that lets it be found.  You can write articles based on long-tail terms, answer questions that your audience may have, and target hundreds of keywords by writing articles specific to each one.

So what are you waiting for? Make your New Year’s Resolution a reality and start your new blog today. And if you have any suggestions of plugins, tools, or services to add to this list, please do share!

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer who writes about blogging, SEO and social media at Gryffin.co/blog.

WordPress Feature Review: New Features You Missed in 2012, Part 2

This guest post is by Michael Scott of WPHub.com.

Yesterday, we started our tour of new features added to WordPress in version 3.4.

Today we continue the tour with a look at helpful new features available in version 3.5.

New features added to WordPress 3.5

Released late last year, WordPress 3.5 was the second and final major WordPress release of 2012.

This was the first release to include the new default design Twenty Twelve. It comes with a cool new feature that lets you install plugins you marked as a favorite on WordPress.org directly from your dashboard. However, many bloggers were surprised that the link manager has been removed from the default version of WordPress (though most agree removing this was a good decision).

Let’s take a look at the features.

New feature: Install favorite plugins

Now you can install your favorite plugins directly from your WordPress dashboard.

If you are logged in at WordPress.org, you will see a new option to favorite a plugin. You simply need to click on the link in order to add a plugin to your favorites.

favorite-plugin-1

As you can see, a new link for favorites has been added to the WordPress plugin area.

favorite-plugin-2

After you enter your WordPress.org username, you will see a list of all the plugins you have added as favorites. You can then install your chosen plugin easily.

favorite-plugin-3

Most WordPress users tend to use the same plugins on each of their WordPress websites. In the past, most people would bookmark their favorite plugins or keep a list of useful plugins so that they didn’t forget them. Saving important plugins at WordPress.org will allow you to quickly install frequently used plugins on every website you own very easily.

The way this new feature is set up, you don’t have to log in to your WordPress.org account on your blog, you only need to enter your username. This means you can see which plugins have been marked as favorites by any user on WordPress. You can share your favorites list with friends simply by telling them your username.

Also, if you know the WordPress username a website owner uses, you could enter their username into the plugin area to get a sneaky look into their favorite plugins (though there is no guarantee they are using a certain plugin on any given website).

New feature: Link manager removed

The Link Manager is no longer part of the core WordPress install.

The WordPress link manager, more commonly known as the Blogroll, was once one of the most popular features with bloggers and was used to display links on millions of blog sidebars. Thankfully, WordPress isn’t too sentimental—they know that the link manager is now only used by a small percentage of users.

The removal of the link manager follows the policy to remove non-essential items from the WordPress core to make the default version of WordPress quicker and leave additional functionality to plugins and themes.

links-new

Those who upgrade to WordPress 3.5 will no longer see the link manager in the WordPress menu if you haven’t used it before.

links-old

If you used your blogroll before you upgrade, the links manager will not be removed. It’s only removed on installations where no links were added (i.e. only the default links to WordPress-related websites were in your database). The link manager is available via an official plugin for anyone who wants to add the functionality back to their WordPress website.

New feature: New default design Twenty Twelve

The default design for WordPress has been released with this new version.

Twenty Twelve was originally planned to be part of WordPress 3.4 but was delayed. It was later released in the official WordPress theme directory in between the release of 3.4 and 3.5.

WordPress 3.5 is the first official release that includes this new theme (Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven are included, too).

Some WordPress users have voiced their disappointment in Twenty Twelve’s minimal design, however most WordPress designers have been pleased with the evolutionary steps in this new official theme. The theme was clearly made with child themes in mind, and with the inclusion of child themes being introduced six months before, I imagine we are going to see a lot of varied designs being created from this base.

twenty-twelve-screenshot

As before, the design can be modified using the theme customizer. Small differences are apparent—no header image is set by default, and no sidebar is shown if no sidebar widgets are present. In addition to the sidebar widget, the static home page also comes with two widget areas (each takes up 50% of the screen width). This makes creating a corporate-style home page very straightforward.

twenty-twelve-widgets

Like Twenty Eleven, Twenty Twelve supports post formats. Each of the additional post formats have a different design to distinguish them from other formats.

post-formats

You’ll find that there isn’t much difference in styling between some post formats. There’s a content template for each one, so these designs can easily be changed with just a few small edits.

asides

Twenty Twelve has a responsive design, so it looks the same on any browser and any device. It has beautiful typography too which makes reading a joy. If you know a little coding, you should be able to design some interesting websites using Twenty Twelve.

New feature: New Welcome screen

WordPress have improved the Welcome screen in 3.5.

Previously, the Welcome screen had an introduction and three columns of links.

welcome-screen-old

The new Welcome screen looks much cleaner. The introductory description is gone, as is the description for each section. There are fewer links to choose from, and the link fonts have increased in size too. It’s much easier to use because of these changes.

welcome-screen

New feature: New color picker

Slight improvements have been made to the color picker.

The color picker for the built-in theme customizer has had a small visual improvement. Previously WordPress used the popular color wheel.

color-picker-old

The new color picker looks much more modern. Common colors are displayed at the bottom and there is a new Default button which lets you return to the default color for the property instantly.

color-picker

New feature: Media interface improved

The WordPress media interface has been vastly improved.

The media interface has had a much-needed overhaul. The old Upload/Insert text above your TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor has been replaced with a more prominent Add media button.

media-interface-1

Clicking on the Add media button will bring up the new media interface. The old interface used to appear in an overlay that covered approximately 40% of the page (centered). The new overlay covers around 95% of the page. The same three options are available as before: Upload Files, Media Library and Embed from URL.

The media library not only looks better, it works better too. All items are shown in the center panel, with details of any selected item being shown on the right panel. Previously, items were shown vertically using a list and you had to click a Show link in order to see more details.

You can show all items, items uploaded to the post you are modifying, images, audio, and video. You can enter search terms to filter results, too.

media-interface-2

Multiple items can now be selected at once. Not only can you modify details of uploaded items more quickly, you can now insert multiple images, audio files, and videos directly into posts. This saves you a huge amount of time. The days of bloggers inserting dozens of images into blog posts one by one are over.

media-interface-3

If you select more than one item, you will have the option of inserting them into a post together. You will also see an option to Create a new gallery. In the past, media items were always grouped together with the post or page they were uploaded from. This new system means you can group items together at any time and insert them anywhere you want.

media-interface-4

The new media interface is arguably the most important new feature for WordPress bloggers. Images, videos, and audio are so important to us. The new interface really speeds up the process of inserting these assets into your blog posts.

New feature: XML-RPC enabled by default

XML-RPC is now enabled by default.

XML-RPC needs to be enabled in WordPress so that external applications can connect to WordPress. Historically, this setting has always been disabled by default.

ios-wordpress

When XML-RPC is enabled, WordPress can be used through a host of different mobile applications and you can use third-party blog editors such as Windows Live Writer, BlogDesk and Post2Blog.

New feature: Dashboard now supports all-HiDPI

The WordPress dashboard now supports retina display,

Those who have shiny new high-resolution retina display devices will be pleased to know that the WordPress dashboard is fully compatible with HiDPI.

Other features added to WordPress 3.4

Below is a list of some of the other features that were added to WordPress 3.5:

  • improved support for keyboard navigation and screen reading
  • search for comments of a particular status
  • external libraries for scripts such as TinyMCE, SimplePie, jQuery 1.8.2 and jQuery UI have all been updated. Backbone and Underscore have also been added.

A full list of features added to WordPress in version 3.5 can be found in the WordPress codex.

WordPress for the future

Each year the WordPress platform evolves and 2012 was no different. Features such as the theme customizer, live preview, and favorite plugins install option have made using WordPress easier for both beginners and veterans.

Whilst WordPress has moved beyond its humble blogging roots somewhat, it is still the best blogging platform available. The Link Manager has been downgraded, however new features such as inserting multiple media items, Twitter embeds and continued support for micro blogging post formats such as asides, quotes, and links, have ensured that WordPress remains number one in the blogging world.

WordPress have ensured they are keeping up with user habits, too. The Admin interface supports retina display, the new default design is responsive and they continue to improve their mobile applications. In short, WordPress is a mobile-friendly platform.

I hope you have enjoyed this review of the new features introduced to WordPress in 2012. Let us know what your favorite new feature is and why!

Michael Scott has been working with WordPress themes and websites in varying capacities since 2007. It was mainly as a project manager where he quickly developed a love for their simplicity and scalability. As a strong advocate of all things WordPress, he enjoys any opportunity to promote its use across the Interweb and on WPHub.com.

WordPress Feature Review: New Features You Missed in 2012, Part 1

This guest post is by Michael Scott of WPHub.com.

One of the great things about WordPress is that it never stands still. The platform is constantly evolving beyond its blogging roots, with more great features being added every year.

WordPress used to release small updates frequently, but at the end of 2009 they changed this policy. They now aim to release three major updates every year, with small infrequent updates in between to address security issues.

The three major releases in 2011 were 3.1 (February 2011) and 3.2 (July 2011) and 3.3 (December 2011).

Today I’d like to walk you through the new features which were introduced in 2012, in WordPress 3.4 and 3.5.

I’ll be focusing on the features that are most relevant to bloggers and explaining how they can help you.

New features in WordPress 3.4

Released in June, WordPress 3.4 was a solid release that is best remembered for introducing the new theme customizer.

It also included a lot of other great new features such as Twitter embedding, HTML in captions, and flexible header images.

New feature: Live preview

Live preview enables you to preview themes before they are activated on your blog.

Browsing and installing themes and plugins directly from the WordPress admin area is one of WordPress’s greatest strengths. It’s amazing that you can modify your blog so much without even leaving your blog’s Admin area.

In the past, clicking on the Preview link for a theme would load up an overlay which displayed the theme over the current page.

live-preview-old

But the process of browsing WordPress designs changed in WordPress 3.4. In the past, the design was listed with Install and Preview links, and a full description.

Descriptions are now hidden by default, though you can view the description of a theme by clicking on the new Description link. This may seem like a small change, but it made browsing for designs within the Admin area much more user friendly.

live-preview-1

Themes are now previewed on their own dedicated Preview page. The page shows the theme on the right-hand side. On the left side, the theme name, thumbnail, rating and description are shown. To save you from having to click the Back button, themes can now be installed via this new Preview area.

live-preview-2

Once a theme has been installed on your WordPress blog, the Preview option becomes much more useful as it loads up the new theme customizer and lets you see how this design will look on your live website. This enables you to preview the theme using your menus, posts, pages and more.

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Being able to see how themes will look with your existing content has greatly improved the process of installing WordPress designs via your Admin area, and changed the way bloggers choose their themes.

New feature: Theme customizer

This feature allows you to configure your theme via a user-friendly Options area.

The WordPress customizer allows users to configure many different areas of their design, such as the header, background and navigation via a dedicated Options area. Older WordPress themes do not support the customizer but can be modified appropriately with a few simple edits to the theme functions.php file.

The Customize link can be found via the Themes link in the Appearance menu of your WordPress Admin area. Clicking on the link will take you directly to the theme customizer Options area.

theme-customizer-1

The options available to you in the customizer will depend on the theme itself. The default WordPress themes only had five or six different options, however over the last six months we have seen WordPress designers incorporate other options in their designs. Common options include site title and tagline, colors, background image, navigation menus, and whether posts or a static page were displayed on your home page.

theme-customizer-2

One of the reasons the theme customizer was so well received within the WordPress community was because changes can be seen in real time. Whenever you change your site name or adjust some colors, these are reflected in the theme preview. The changes are, however, only applied to your website after you have clicked the Save & Publish button.

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The theme customizer has made it possible for beginners to modify how their website looks without editing any templates. It’s very straightforward to use and since the release of WordPress 3.4, many designers have made sure their themes are compatible with it.

New feature: Twitter embedding

Now you can embed Twitter statuses directly into your blog posts and pages by simply entering the Twitter status URL.

Twitter is one of the most powerful tools available to bloggers. In addition to self promotion and networking, many bloggers use Twitter as a source of inspiration for their articles. The new Twitter embedding feature makes quoting Twitter statues simple and removes the need for taking screenshots or installing plugins to display a quote.

For example, simply enter this within your blog post:

https://twitter.com/problogger/status/271764815607898112

The corresponding Twitter status will be displayed:

twitter-embeds

The beauty of this new feature is its simplicity. There are no shortcodes to remember or buttons to click: you simply enter the URL of the Twitter status to embed it.

New feature: HTML in captions

This feature lets you add HTML directly to your image captions.

Captions have always been a great way of describing photographs and images to your readers. Being able to add HTML to captions has improved this considerably as you can now include links to photo credits, relevant articles, and websites directly inside the caption.

html-captions

Those who are using old WordPress themes may find that the new way WordPress adds captions has broken older image captions on your website. Upgrading to a new theme is recommended, though you could fix these issues manually by searching for posts with captions through your WordPress post area and updating the code.

New feature: Improved features for international users

Improved support is now offered for international WordPress users so that many locale-specific configurations can be modified from the core WordPress files.

As a native English speaker, localization is not something I ever have to deal with, so it’s easy to forget that around 44% of all websites are written in a language other than English.

WordPress 3.4 focused heavily on making WordPress more international. Some of the most important new features introduced for non-English users include:

  • Localizing commas: Many Asian and Middle Eastern languages do not use the comma (,). This causes a lot of problems for those users, as WordPress uses the comma as a delimiter for tags, quick edits and bulk edits. From 3.4, the comma can be translated to another character for languages where a comma isn’t used.
  • Translatable spellchecker language: The TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor can now be translated into any language.
  • Specify default time zone: Previously, the default timezone for all WordPress installations was set to GMT. This can now be modified so that the timezone does not have to be adjusted during the installation process.
  • Feed language: The language of your feed can now be set using the bloginfo_rss template tag.
  • Specifying start of week: You can now easily define the day the week starts.

If you don’t blog in English, many of these new features should make it easier for you to use WordPress in your native language.

New feature: Flexible header images

Header images are now responsive.

Custom headers were added to WordPress way back in 2007 (version 2.1). Previously WordPress allowed you to set the width and height of a header image, but all header images which were uploaded had to be cropped to fit these dimensions.

Now all images will resize dynamically to match the width of your header.

With so many people viewing blogs on mobile devices, flexible headers have made it easier for designs to accommodate any resolution. Check out Creating a responsive header in WordPress 3.4 at WebmasterDepot for a complete walkthrough of this new feature.

New feature: Login shortcodes

WordPress now offers more user-friendly login URLs.

WordPress users can log in using www.yoursite.com/wp-login.php and access the Admin area via www.yoursite.com/wp-admin/. Since version 3.4, you can log in using the more user-friendly URL www.yoursite.com/login. The Admin area can also be viewed by entering www.yoursite.com/admin or www.yoursite.com/dashboard.

There’s no denying that this is a small addition to WordPress, but I always welcome small things like this that make daily tasks such as logging in quicker and easier.

New feature: Comment via the post editor

Comments can now be added via the Post and Page editor pages.

For years the Post editing page has shown all the comments that were left on a post or page. In addition to viewing comments, there is now an option to leave a comment directly on a post from the post editor area. This saves you from having to load up the article in order to leave a comment.

add-comment-post-screen

New feature: Improved touch support

WordPress now offers vastly improved touch support in the user interface.

WordPress aimed to improve site usability on tablet devices such as the Apple iPad and Kindle Fire. Specifically, they added support for drag-and-drop functionality. This allows you to more easily customize the mobile user interface simply by moving things around.

New feature: Child themes added to the theme repository

The official WordPress themes directory now accepts child themes of WordPress themes that are already listed within the directory.

Child themes will be accepted within the theme directory if they can demonstrate sufficient difference from the parent theme to warrant inclusion.

I was particularly pleased with this feature, as it allows designers to take existing designs and modify them for different users. For example, designers will now be able to take a magazine-based theme and make it more blog-orientated, or remove features from designs that are too bloated.

child-themes

The theme installer supports child themes too. The great thing about this is that WordPress will automatically install a child theme’s parent theme if it isn’t already installed.

New feature: Scroll to top of Admin bar

Now, we can scroll to the top of the page by simply clicking the Admin bar.

This simple feature was missed by a lot of bloggers but it’s something that I’ve found myself using every day. Since WordPress 3.4, you can scroll to the top of the page by clicking in the empty area in the Admin bar. Simple but effective!

scroll-to-top

Other features added to WordPress 3.4

Since we’re short on space, here are some of the other great features that were added to WordPress 3.4:

  • The dashboard is now ready for high-resolution displays such as Apple’s retina display.
  • Multi-site improvements were made, such as auto-complete for adding new users and an increase in the default upload limit from 10mb to 100mb.
  • The Recent Comments widget had some small improvements.
  • Custom post types can now use the Distraction-free Editing mode (also known as Zen mode).
  • XML-RPC was improved to let WordPress interact with other applications more easily.

A full list of features added to WordPress in version 3.4 can be found in the WordPress codex.

That’s it for WordPress 3.4! Which of these features are you using, and which are your favorites? Let us know in the comments … and don’t miss Part 2 in this series, where I explain the handy new features available in WordPress 3.5.

Michael Scott has been working with WordPress themes and websites in varying capacities since 2007. It was mainly as a project manager where he quickly developed a love for their simplicity and scalability. As a strong advocate of all things WordPress, he enjoys any opportunity to promote its use across the Interweb and on WPHub.com .

Stop Socializing! Auto-Share Social Media Updates and Get Back to Blogging

This guest post is by Fred Perrotta of Tortuga Backpacks.

As a blogger, you should be spending at least 80% of your time creating killer content.

The problem is that that leaves just 20% of your time to split between time-intensive (but important) activities like social networking, ad sales, new product creation, and marketing.

In this post, you’ll learn how to automatically share your blog posts to your social networks.

You’ll set up your system once and then never worry about manually sharing your posts again.

Now you can spend your time connecting with likeminded bloggers, responding to comments, and making money instead of copying and pasting the same update all over the web.

Your new best friend: IFTTT

Your auto-sharing system will use online connections service IFTTT (If This, Then That).

You may have heard of IFTTT from previous stories on Problogger, which showed how to use it for content curation and posting to WordPress by email.

IFTTT (pronounced like “lift” without the “l”) is a service that creates connections between your social networks, RSS feeds, and even email.

With IFTTT, you connect a “trigger” (like a new post in your RSS feed) with an “action” (like posting to Twitter) to create a “recipe”. IFTTT feed trigger

Read on to learn how to use existing IFTTT recipes to automate your social sharing.

Automatically share on Twitter

Use this RSS to Twitter recipe to automatically tweet new blog posts.

Note that you’ll need to customize this template to use your RSS feed.

You can also customize the tweet itself using plain text and “ingredients” like the post title and URL.

IFTT action tweet

Automatically share on Tumblr

IFTTT is even customizable enough to handle Tumblr’s multiple post types.

Use this feed to Tumblr link recipe to share a link to your latest blog post on Tumblr.

Sharing a link, rather than the full post, is good for your SEO and will prevent duplicate content issues.

Run an image-heavy photo blog? Use this RSS to Tumblr photo recipe to create a photo post.

Using the templates linked above, you’ll be able to customize the body of your Tumblr post, the source URL, and the tags. Even though you’re not posting directly from Tumblr, you can still utilize all of its functionality.

Automatically share on LinkedIn

LinkedIn sharing works much the same way as Twitter and Tumblr.

Use this RSS to LinkedIn recipe to share your next blog post on your LinkedIn profile.

Sharing on LinkedIn is highly recommended for B2B bloggers.

Why you can’t auto-share on Google+ or Pinterest (yet)

Unfortunately, neither Google+ nor Pinterest have a public write API, so IFTTT doesn’t have recipes for posting to either site.

For now, you can post updates manually or skip them altogether. Make your own decision based on the importance of these networks to your business and the relevance of their audiences to your blog.

The problem with Facebook…

Facebook is the hardest network to automate because its EdgeRank algorithm demotes posts made from third-party sites like IFTTT.

That’s right: if you’re not creating your posts on Facebook, your fans probably aren’t seeing them.

Even when you’re posting on Facebook, only 16% of fans see a given post. Don’t let this number slip even lower!

For Facebook, you have two options:

  1. Use Facebook’s new WordPress plugin to create a Facebook link post from within WordPress. You can even tag people and pages from within the widget, which is shown in your sidebar when you’re writing a new post. Since this is an official Facebook plugin, you don’t have to worry about your posts being penalized.
  2. Post to Facebook manually. Yes, this seems to go against the point of this post, but you can set up the rest of your sharing so that this is the only manual post you’ll have to make.

If Facebook drives a significant amount of traffic to your blog, manual posting is worthwhile.

The other advantage is that you can post a picture (with a link in the text) rather than just a link. Pictures are prioritized over links (which the plugin above would create), so more of your fans will see a picture post than a link post.

Darren himself had 18x better results from posting a picture rather than just a link.

Problogger Facebook image post

Have you automated your social sharing yet?

Using the strategies in this post, you can free up most of the time you used to spend sharing every post you published. Even for low-volume blogs, this is huge.

Have you automated your social sharing yet? If so, how are you spending your new free time?

Fred Perrotta is the co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks and a freelance marketing consultant.