MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

Determine Whether You Will Run Advertising

February 6th, 2008 Viewed 2060 times

Leather Couch Header

Something you’ll want to think about, if you’re new to blogging or have been doing it for a while, is what you want to get out of blogging. There are many different things that can be rewards for running a good blog:

  • Recognition: Yeah! I got my first comment that wasn’t mine!
  • Friends: Where did you say you were from again?
  • Enemies: Yes, I do believe that God created the earth, why do you ask?
  • Money?

Text Link Ads – Promote My Site, Please!

February 1st, 2008 Viewed 1857 times

TLA Billboard

Text Link Ads (and their accompanying banner ads) carry a similar problem to Pay Per Post, but they also pay better than most of the other money making systems.

The problem that’s similar to PPP is that people are trying to get links on your site so that they can get “Google Juice” and reach your audience. And yet these ads pay the best and allow you to have a great deal of control over what gets displayed on your site.

Google AdSense – Click Here

January 30th, 2008 Viewed 1982 times

Adsense Billboard

When I first started blogging on Brave Journal close to four years ago the only ads that you saw were the (sometimes blinking) ads that were placed there by Brave Journal themselves– on the top of the blog. They were irritating, and they did nothing for the blog itself, and so when I first moved off Brave Journal to a friend’s family site, I bragged about my new blog not having ads at all!

At the time I thought it was just nice not to have to have the things blinking at me, and I figured that it was better for my readers– at that time only two really followed me to my new home.

A friend of mine suggested I try a new service– Google AdSense– figuring that I could make a buck or two on the content I was already writing. I wouldn’t have to do anything to select the ads, and they had bunch of formats.

Since that time, I’ve experimented with a lot of different ad formats, to many different degrees of success:

Yahoo Shortcuts

January 23rd, 2008 Viewed 2104 times

Shortcuts Header

If you’re like me then you like to spruce up your posts with images, links and any tool that you can find that will help you do this is– and do it easily– is something that you’d want to try out.

Well, one of the great things about WordPress is that there are always people writing plugins and coming up with neat things– and this plugin is no exception. Yahoo has developed what is calls “shortcuts“. It’s a plugin that sits on your write post screen over on the right hand bar and watches what you write.

WP Text Ads

September 12th, 2007 Viewed 2015 times

WP Text AdsSome of you may have noticed the new links under the subscription box on the right hand sidebar.  These ads are paid for ads using the WordPress Plugin WP Text Ads.  Basically, the writer of this plugin has designed an entire interface where someone can place an ad on your homepage, the entire site, or a single page.

All you have to do is click on the “Buy a Text Link Ad” on the sidebar.  A separate window appears and shows you the rates for an ad for different durations (completely configurable by the admin.

The neat thing is that the admin interface shows you e-mail templates that are automatically sent out, it moves the ad through different stages (submitted, approved, paid, expiring, etc.) and e-mails are sent out appropriately.  There’s even a place to enter your PayPal e-mail address for payment.

If you want to put an ad on an individual page, you simply go to the page that you want to advertise on and click the same link.  You’ll find that the page now has a set of prices and durations for the given page.

The free version allows you two links per each set (entire site, home page, every post).  After you pay a registration fee you get unlimited ads.  You can also register for a marketplace where advertisers can find you.

How does this compare with AdSense, PayPerPost, etc? 

Simply, you get all the advertising dollars instead of some going to some other player.

What kind of standards are you going to have?

This is actually nicer, because I can accept or reject any submission and I’m not at the whim of Google to give me a good match.  I already rejected one of the submissions because it would not fit with this site.

You’re a Sell Out

I’m on the web primarily to share what I have to say, but at the same time I am a husband and a father and providing my posts takes time (as anyone who does this knows).  Advertising allows me to keep doing this while providing benefits to my family.  It also does not distract from the content– and with WP Text Ads I have complete control over what gets linked and what does not.

Anything Free?

Sure, from now until next Wednesday (9-19-2007) if you want to put your link on any page, it’ll be free for 30 days as a special promotional.

What is a Sitemap?

August 15th, 2007 Viewed 2217 times, 2 so far today

Every blog should have a Sitemap.  Why?  Because a Sitemap allows Google and other search engines to find all of your content easily without having to just follow links.  Next to having good meta data, registering a Sitemap is the easiest thing you can do to make sure that search engines know that you are there.

These tips are for self-hosted WordPress blogs– those that do not end with .wordpress.com.  However, some of this can benefit everyone.

Get a Sitemap Plugin

The first thing that you need to do is to go to Google Sitemap Generator for WordPress v2 and get a plugin that will generate a valid sitemap on your blog.  There are a couple of other ones out there, but basically you want a plugin that will turn your post data into an XML file.

Once you have that installed, you will need to configure it.  For the most part, you can accept the defaults.  What you will also need to do is to make sure that you give the right permissions on your blog so that it can generate the file.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Open up FileZilla or whatever FTP client you are running.
  2. Click on the root folder (in my case minthegap.com)
  3. Right click and choose “File Attributes”
  4. Type “777” in the box and hit ok.
  5. Go into your dashboard for Options > Sitemap and click “Rebuild Sitemap”.
  6. Go back to FileZilla, right click on the root folder and return it to “644”
  7. Go into the root folder, find the sitemap.xml file.
  8. Right click on that file and change its permissions to 777.

Now your sitemap should be generated every time you create a post.

Registering with Google

Next you’ll need to go to the Google Sitemaps page and register your sitemap.

  1. Type the URL of your site into the box to the left of the “Add Site” button.
  2. Click the button.
  3. Click on the link that will let you Verify your site.  Choose whatever method you are most comfortable with.
  4. Find the tab at the top of the page that says “Sitemaps”.
  5. Click on the link that says “Add a Sitemap” and give Google the URL to your sitemap (should be something like http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml.
  6. Press OK, and you should be good to go!

And that’s all it takes to start generating and registering a sitemap.  See you next time when we talk about other things that will drive traffic to your site.

Two Plugins to Help Search Engines Read Your Content

June 20th, 2007 Viewed 1901 times

The one thing to keep in mind when thinking about how Google and other search engines index your content is that it is a program (“robot”) written by people that is trying to find out what your content is about and to categorize it.  Unlike the visitors your have to your site who can read the content and make sense of it, the robot may not know the difference between sidebar content and the main content.  Therefore, it is your duty to help it along by providing it the best clues you can.

Today we’ll focus on two plugins for WordPress that can help you do just that.  Later, we’ll talk about some things you can do to your theme to help.

Add Meta Tags

In the older days, the way that robots knew what your content was about what mostly by the tags in your HTML located between <HEAD> and </HEAD> that told them keywords and descriptions.  The problem was that this is like documentation– and many programmers don’t like writing documentation.  Oh, and that pesky thing that it’s hard to keep up with dynamic content.

Enter Add Meta Tags.  This Plugin takes an excerpt of your post to put in the description tag, uses your categories for keywords and is configurable.  This is great for making your search results look better, and giving the robots more to work with.

Google Sitemap Generator

The other plugin that will help the robots know more about your site is the Google Sitemap Generator.  This plugin produces an XML file for all of your posts and pages on your site.  You can then go to Google and register your sitemap and every time you publish a post, your sitemap is updated and Google will know about it.

The usual method for Google to find pages on your site is by following links– and this may lead to the robot not finding all your pages, which is why the Sitemap is a great thing for bloggers.

WordPress Database Backup

May 23rd, 2007 Viewed 4936 times


One of the most basic things that every blogger that is self hosting should be doing is creating a backup of their database on a regular basis. Why? Because you are not running your own service (i.e. running your blog on wordpress.org or the equivalent place in blog platform of your choice) and having them backup your data, you need to have some protection in case their server crashes, your site gets hacked, etc.– if only for the fact that you will probably have a better grasp of what is truly going on at your site compared to those that are hosting it.

Truth be told, you should both have a copy of your current working files (the files you uploaded or FTP-ed to the site) and the database, but since the most important things for your blog (your posts, comments, settings, and options) are all saved in your database, it is crucial that this data is readily accessible should the unforseen happen. Like Stephen when he put his site back together and told us it is possible to gain a lot of your post content material back from Google’s cache, but he lost some comments. If you had a database backup you’d use less.

Ok, you say, you’ve convinced me. What do I do now?

Go and get the WordPress Database Backup Plugin. This plugin, once installed, will give you the ability to not only select what you want backed up, but, best of all, it will let you pick a scheduled frequency (hourly, daily, weekly, …) and then let you specify an e-mail address to have your backup e-mailed to. I have mine set up to send me an e-mail with my database backed up every day!

You may need to grant write permissions to a specific directory after installing the plugin, but other than that, installation is straightforward. You get a new menu under your Manage tab that says “Backup” and you can test it there as well as configure the daily backup.

So, what are you waiting for. Go get the WordPress Database Backup Plugin today!

Upgrading and Why You Need a Database Backup

May 17th, 2007 Viewed 2653 times

windowslivewriterupgradingandwhyyouneedadatabasebackup-1478fsitting-pretty-thumb.jpgSo, the latest version of WordPress has just been released, version 2.2.  I hadn’t upgraded MInTheGap to 2.1.3 because I figured that 2.2 would be coming out any day now and I was going to wait for those features.

Because of Stephen’s problems with losing his posts and not having a backup, I made sure to install the latest version of WordPress Database Backup which includes the ability to have your database saved, zipped up, and sent to you every day in your e-mail.

A few days ago, I had gotten a development environment on my Windows XP computer using xampplite so that I could test some things before deploying.

So, when I saw the new version was out, I was pretty much sure I was set– so I decided to test it first.  I don’t know about you, but disabling all the plugins and then re-enabling them is a pain, so I decided to unleash the version on my local copy first, see what bad things happened, if any, and then deploy to “production.”

Well, the upgrade looked like it went fine, but I did have a small problem I noticed.  The tag cloud on the left side was replaced by the Overall Top Posts.  No big deal, I thought.  Probably a problem with that plugin.  So, I decided to launch it in production.

Big mistake.

I tried restarting the category tag cloud component with no success.  It was then that I recognized the magnitude of the problem.  It wasn’t just the tag cloud.  It was the Executable PHP Widget.  Sure enough, all of the PHP widgets were showing the Top 10 Daily Posts.

What happened next was a lesson in chaos.  I proceeded to try to run the old Widgets plugin (since one of 2.2’s claims to fame is that it has widgets built in)– no good, it faulted.

Next I tried restarting the PHP plugin.  That didn’t work.  Before I finally got it I ended up going into the database, hacking the widget_php option in the Options table, tried removing things from the sidebar_widgets option, and googled my brains out trying to see if anyone else had run into this.

So, what did I do?  Crazy as it may seem, I’m now running Disable WordPress Widgets to disable the 2.2 widgets, and I turned back on the old widget plugin.  I had to use my database backup running locally to get the old text for the PHP Options.

WHEW!

So, remember, test first.  Have good backups of code and databases.  Don’t panic when things go wrong.  And be thankful that it’s only software!

What to do with Related Posts

May 2nd, 2007 Viewed 5099 times

Rebecca, over at The Space Between My Peers, is moving to a new theme.  She really likes the new colors, but has some qualms about what’s going on with her related posts.  Specifically, she said that she would like the following:

1) change the bullet to a coffee cup
2) put a background on them
3) have them just show up when you hit the read more arrow

So, let’s see if we can help her get this done…

Change the bullet to a star or a heart.

This is actually the most challenging of the things we have to do.  Her current related posts look like this:

Pretty tacky.  She wants to change it to coffee cups– so we’re going to have to find some!

The great things is, there are plenty of sites out there with graphics that we can use free of charge.  One that specializes in bullets is Bullet Madness.  Thankfully, they have a coffee cup about halfway down the list called “on a break“.  We’ll need to download that file and upload it to your site, maybe in an images folder.

The next she has to do is go into her Admin Panel and find “Related Post Options” Under “Plugin”.  Once you’re there, find the box that Before / After (Post Title).

We need to add some code after the <li.  As you can see above, put a space after <li and type Class=”relatedhearts”.  So, the entire text in the first box should read:

<li Class=”relatedcoffee”>

Press the save button.  This shouldn’t change anything on your site, yet.

Next, we’re going to edit the Stylesheet that you have to put in this new class.  If you use the Theme Editor ( under “Presentation” ), go to it and select the stylesheet link.  In either case, go to the end of the file and add the following:

ul.clearbullets {
list-style-type: none;
padding-left: 0;
margin-left: 0;
}

.relatedcoffee {
background: url(http://betweenmypeers.com/images/0088_on_a_break.png) left center no-repeat }

That’s going to get us the coffee cups after one more step.  Go into the page that you added the related posts function to.  In my case it’s “theloop.php”, whatever yours is it’s where there’s a loop to display the posts.  Find where you put in the function that displays the related posts, and put a

<ul class=”clearbullets”>

before it.  Save the file or upload it and you should be good to go!

Have them just show up when you read more.

While you’re doing the last step, making this change is easy.  Right before the ul, put the following code:

<?php if(is_single()) { ?>

and after the call to related posts put

<%php } ?>

And now related posts only show up when there’s only one post on the screen!

Put a background on them.

I think that we’ll have to save this one for next time, since we need to more clearly define what you want for a background, but try the first two and see if you can get it to work, and let me know if there are any questions!

Want to have some help with your template?  Reply in comments or contact me!

MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.