If You Work With WordPress – You Need These Tools

If You Work With WordPress – You Need These Tools

Wordpress has proven to be a fantastic tool to manage your blog or website, however there are some additional tools that can make the entire process much simpler. The best part is that these are easy to use and completely free. WordPress can handle all of your content management needs, however there are some other things that need to be taken care of as well. Here are a few tools that you should add to your website management arsenal.

1. FTP Program
If you are going to work with WordPress, then you will need an FTP Program of some sort. On of the most commonly used programs is FileZilla. The best part is that it is super-easy to use. Even if you don’t know what FTP means, it is intuitive enough to still easily be used.

You may not need this tool right away, however at some point you will. XAMPP, and similar tools, will allow you to install your WordPress site on your computer. This will allow you to do your testing without actually loading it on your server. It will help you work out any bugs, test new plugins for integration issues, and customize themes.

3. Online Data Storage
If you are going to do any remote work at all, then getting an online data storage solution is important. Fortunately, there are several options that offer a basic package for free. It won’t be able to backup your entire computer, but it will allow you to backup all of your files and photos related to your WordPress site.

Crash Plan
Log Me In

4. Firebug
If there is one program that every developer will use, it is Firebug. There is a Firebug extension for both FireFox and Chrome, however the Chrome plugin doesn’t offer all of the features that you can access with when using FireFox. Firebug gives you a way to click on any element on your page and see exactly what it is and how it is reacting to the rest of your site. You can also edit the CSS and HTML on any of your web pages Keep in mind that it won’t save these edits, however you can just copy and paste your changes and add them to your actually website files.

5. NotePad++
Most people will agree that NotePad++ is one of the best source code editors out there. It can handle anything you throw at it, including PHP, CSS, and HTML. Plus it is very lightweight and easy to use.

Some Fun Extras

Here are a few extras that some people can’t live without and others will never use. Maybe one of them will be just what you need.

Evernote – Simple cloud based note taking tool
MAMP – Allows you to run multiple installs and test your website in a variety of situations
ScreenFlow – Niche little screencast creator
Jing – Screen capture device (Windows 7 has a built in screen capture tool)

Which WordPress Comments Plugin Is the Best For Your Blog?

There are a growing number of WordPress plugins that are based around altering your comments area. They can serve a wide variety of functions ranging from combating spam to creating a more engaged base of readers. Unfortunately, there is not a “single best” plugin, but rather a lot of great plugins that all do different things. Here is a quick look at the best plugin for each of several functions to help you decide which one will be the best for your blog.

Comment Plugins to Make Your Life Easier

These are the plugins that are installed primarily to help you, not your readers. They deal with the back-end of website management. Some of them cover a variety of tasks, while other are super-targeted.

Better Comments Manager
The Better Comments Manager can make your life a lot easier. It provides three different functions. First, it allows you to organize all of the comments by post, time, or favorite. Second, it will allow you to directly reply to a comment without actually needing to be redirected to the post. Finally, it can actually mass edit/delete spam comments. In fact, it will actually catch some that get by Akismet.

Bad Behavior
Granted, Akismet is and probably always will be considered the best anti-spam plugin, but that doesn’t mean that you should overlook Bad Behavior. Akismet relies on a web service to decide whether or not a comment is spam. Bad Behavior stops spam by identifying the software as well as how it was created. This plugin will often identify new forms of comment spam before Akismet because it doesn’t rely on other people identifying it first.

Comment Plugins That Promote Commenting

There isn’t a plugin named For SEO, but rather a collection of plugins that are all geared towards search engine optimization. Sure, spammers give blog commenting for SEO purposes a bad name, however there are a lot of legit commenter who are primarily concerned with getting the backlink, but will still take the time to leave a quality comment, especially if they are in the same niche you are. There are a variety of different plugins that can achieve this. The most popular include: CommentLuv, NoFollow Free, and DoFollow.

Twitoaster and Facebook Comments
There are two great social media related commenting plugins, one for Twitter and one for Facebook. Twitoaster imports tweets and threads them within your comments so that both conversations are combined. The official Facebook plugin allows people to post comments from their Facebook profile.

Comment Plugins That Promote Direct Communication

Comment Emailer
This plugin gives you a customizable way to send approval emails to people when their comment is approved. You can also change all of the information such as the “from”, website title, and even the message itself. This allows you to both keep in contact with your commenter’s, but also brand your website and emails.

Finding the Best WordPress Portfolio Themes For Freelancers

Over the past several years there has been a sharp increase in the number of freelance portfolio themes for WordPress. While there are some glaring similarities among many of them, there are also some big differences. If you have been trying to sort through them all, but still can’t decide which one is right you, here are a few tips that could help guide you in the right direction.

1. Don’t Compromise Your Craft

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that your portfolio site should be designed to accent your strengths. In general, this seems to be much easier for photography freelancers than anyone else. When you look at freelance themes as a whole, a dominant percentage of them are geared towards artists, particularly photographers. On the other hand, it seems like there are the least amount of themes for writers. The entire point of using a freelance portfolio is to make your prior projects appear as appealing as possible, so make sure that your theme works for you.

2. Pay Particular Attention to Versatility

Another thing to keep in mind when trying to find the best WordPress theme is versatility. Website design trends change as quickly as anything else on the web. If you choose a theme that is difficult to alter or lacks the customization options you need, then you will likely have to change themes again in another year or less. This is especially true if you are freelancer providing a more creative and artistic service. Choosing easy to customize frameworks like Thesis or Headway provides you with the maximum amount of versatility, with the minimal amount of required programming knowledge.

A Handful of Popular Portfolio Themes For Freelancers

DeepFocus is a great theme that can be altered to fit any type of freelancing service. It provides you with all of the functionality of a traditional blog, while also utilizing a very eye-catching homepage. It is geared towards photographers, however even writers can build a great portfolio with this theme by using the Recent Works section to highlight online and published work.
Get DeepFocus Theme

On Assignment
On Assignment is another great portfolio theme that can be used by anyone. It is sleek and stylish for designers, photographers, and programmers, but can also be content oriented for writers and journalists.
Get On assignment

Lumin is another great portfolio theme that provides you with a page-based layout, while at the same time giving you an independent post-based blog and gallery. Both of the post-based sections have a unique customization that allows you to deliver your content and previous works in functional, yet professional looking manner.

In the end, as long as your portfolio reflects your skills and previous works, it is the right one. If you plan on having an online portfolio for an extended amount of time (more than a few years) then make sure that it is versatile, while still highlighting your craft.
Get Lumin Theme

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Free, Premium, or Custom: What Type of Theme is Right For You?

When it comes to choosing a theme for your WordPress website, your most basic decision that needs to made is whether you want to pay for it or not. There are several schools of thought surrounding this issue. At one extreme there are people who won’t ever use a free theme and the other end is the exact opposite. So which one is right for you? Here is a quick look at the pros and cons of all three options.

Using a Free WordPress Theme

There are several benefits to using a free WordPress theme, most notably it’s free. Plus, there are literally thousands of different free themes to choose from. This is especially true if you have a working knowledge of PHP, HTML, and CSS because you can download free themes and use them a basic framework for your theme. In most cases, free themes are designed to be easily altered.

Free WordPress themes have a couple of potential drawbacks to consider as well. The first is that there will not likely be any support for the theme, which can become a problem when certain plugins aren’t compatible. Another drawback is that you will often have to keep a footer link to the designers website. One of the biggest potential concerns is that some themes are designed by less than honest people who insert malicious coding that will give them access to your site, although the TAC plugin will normally help you identify potential problems.

Using a Premium WordPress Theme

The largest benefit of using premium themes is that they tend to look much more professional. Plus, they will normally be fully supported, so if you ever have any issues, they will help you work through them. Premium themes will also be updated whenever there is a change to the WordPress core that “breaks” it. Finally, premium themes tend to offer many more configuration options to make your theme completely unique

The primary drawback is cost alone and depending on theme, it may take a little extra time to configure it during the initial installation.

Using a Custom Theme

Custom WordPress themes offer two primary benefits. The first is that your website will be completely unique and will look like whatever you want. Second, the developer will often install and configure the theme for you.

Like premium themes, the biggest drawback is cost. However, it is also worth considering that many developers won’t update your theme unless you pay either an ongoing maintenance fee or one-time fee. Another potential drawback is that you will need to spend a lot of time interviewing potential candidates, plus wait as long as it takes for them to finish it.

In general, there is no “best” solution in terms of whether you pay for a theme or not. Regardless of which option you choose, it is always helpful for you to grasp at least a minimal amount of PHP, CSS, and HTML so that you can make any minor changes yourself.

7 Plugins You Should Be Using But Probably Aren’t

There are thousands of plugins out there and even the most experienced WordPress user can only list a small sampling of them at any point in time. They do everything from expanding the core functionality to just making your site look better. Here are 9 exceptionally useful plugins, some might be considered essential, that most people aren’t using but probably should.

1. Editorial Calendar

This is a plugin that very few people know about, let alone use. This plugin is designed to help you stay organized, especially if you are loading content in advance or working with a team of writers. It will give you an overview of your blog content and tell you when each post will be published. The best part is that it has a drag and drop interface that allows you to move posts within the calendar and even edit them. If you plan and write posts in advance at all, this plugin will help you stay on top of your schedule.

2. Several PHP Plugins
There are a number of different plugins such as PHPExec or RunPHP that allow you to directly place PHP code into your posts. This is especially helpful for affiliate marketers.

3. Thank Me Later
Thank Me Later is one of those plugins that most people know about, but still rarely use. TML will automatically send an email to anyone who leaves a comment on your blog. You can even create several messages to be sent over a certain period of time, similar to an autoresponder. If you can get people to keep coming back to your blog and actively engaged with your content, then you are already well ahead of the curve.

4. RSS Footer

This plugin simply adds a footer to the end of your articles in your RSS feeds. It could be a link back to your website or a quick call to action. Anything is better than the dead space that is normally at the end of your RSS feeds.

5. Broken Link Checker (BLC)

BLC is essential for every blog no matter how small. It repeatedly scans the links on your website to make sure that they are still active. If it finds one that doesn’t work, it alerts you so that you can change it. Dead links make it look like you aren’t maintaining your blog, but going over every link takes too much time. BLC solves this problem with little effort on your part.

6. Tweet Old Post

It does what it says. It takes your old posts and send out a tweet about them. Your content is valuable and should be utilized as effectively as possible. This plugin ensures that your old content doesn’t go unnoticed

7. SEO Smart Links

This plugin has gotten more popular lately with the release of the premium version. The free version is still very effective at what it does. It allows you to automatically link keywords an phrases in your posts and comments with other posts or pages on your blog. Think of it as hands-free inter-linking.