The Warrior Forum

For those marketers who haven’t been marketing very long or just get out too much, there’s a place where an awful lot of marketers, wannabes, experts, gurus and others go, especially when they want to learn or share knowledge and opinions. Just about every marketer mentions it now and again, usually along with the strange term WSO (pronounced wizzo).

That place is The Warrior Forum. And WSO stands for Warrior Special Offer. The two are related and here’s a bit of an explanation for you.

The Warrior Forum has been around for years and started as forums do as a place for people of mutual interest to discuss things. It has several sub-sections including ones that discuss every aspect of internet marketing. It’s also a place where you can contact people who will do various things IM – although usually for a fee. Got an idea for a WordPress plugin? Find a programmer on Warrior. Need to know how solo ads work? There’s several hundred experts on Warrior. Even article marketing, social media marketing and so much more.

The best bit about it is though is that it costs nothing to join. It’s like all forums, it has its controversies, idiots and nay-sayers, but these people do not tend to last very long, so as forums go, it’s quite a respectable place.

There is one place though that is off limits to the free and casual reader… The War Room.

It costs to join, currently $97 a year. (I was lucky. I got in when it was $20)

What do you get for the extra money?

The first thing you get is the ability to post WSOs to the general forum population (and visitors). It will cost you more again to post each WSO but a well written sales page (not my forte at the moment) will more than make that money back. Some people even pay to put up WSOs that are free to download – usually (but not always) in exchange for your name and email.

The other great thing about the War Room is that the level of expertise goes up in the discussions and there is a great deal of “This is my next WSO, can I have some opinions?” as well as “This is my old WSO – Free to War Room members” so it is a great place to get more information as well as things for free that you would have been happy to pay for!

So if you’re not a Warrior yet, I strongly suggest that you become at least a free member. See how the forum operates and get a good feel for the site. Then dig out your wallet and join the War Room. That is money that you will definitely not regret paying out in your search for Internet Marketing excellence.

 

WordPress Blog Themes

If you’ve ever set up a WordPress blog site then you’ll know that the default themes (in 2014 at least) are not too bad. Unfortunately many people never get beyond those themes, not even changing the headline picture and certainly never investigating the many thousands of other themes there are out there.

The first thing to consider is the layout. 2 column, 3 column or 4? Widgets or not (what are widgets anyway?) Loads of colours or just a few? Think about the image you are trying to portray. An artist or photographer – someone who works with colours will possibly want a really colourful theme or just a plain one so that nothing is distracting from their work. A business might already have selected company colours and just want their website to reflect those – this is when you’ll need a theme which allows you to select exact hues and shades rather than just red, green or blue variations on a basic idea.

Of course, for the dedicated CSS & PHP programmer, changing any colour might just be a matter of rooting around in the .css files, or it may be a matter of paying someone to do it for you, but many of the premium WordPress themes available allow you to do this from a control panel making it easier for anyone to select background and font colours to something of their own choosing.

Another advantage of a premium theme is that fewer people will be using it. As a rule, marketers, especially at the novice stage, are reluctant to spend too much money on something that they think no one will pay attention to, but people do notice these things and ‘me too’ themes will get spotted and commented upon. It is worth spending a few dollars more to get something that is unique and can be tailored to what you want. If you’re not sure to begin with, see if a premium theme that you like has a free version (limited selections or layouts, sellers banners or links) that you can at least try with your ideas, before you splash out for the full version (which is what I’m doing on this site).

Your blog is your showcase, so make the theme something that people notice – for the right reasons.

PS: A widget is a piece of code that allows extra things to happen, usually in the right side column. So the sign-up, categories, recent posts and my request for you to join in, are all widgets of different types. Some are built into WordPress and some are extras through plug ins or part of the theme. More on plugins in another article.

Setting Up Your First Web Site – part 2

Installing WordPress

We’re now going to actually start setting up a website (or two). You’ll need the email you got from your web host and depending on what else you want to do, you may want some good quality, niche related pictures that you have permission to use.

This last factor is very important. Just because it’s on the internet, doesn’t mean it’s free for you to use. Either use pictures you’ve taken yourself, buy some from a royalty free photo sales site or buy a disk of them at your local computer store. Don’t give anyone a reason to chase you with lawyers. You have been warned.

Type your new domain name into the address bar or your browser then /cpanel at the end. It will look like this… http://www.yourdomainname.com/cpanel then press enter. The browser will now go to a page that requests your login details, which should be on the email that the web hosting company sent to you.

Once you’ve logged in your browser should display something like this:

cpanel

Don’t worry if it’s not absolutely identical. CPanel is customisable by web hosts and you may see variations on the theme above. Different colours and maybe some different icons, but all the essential stuff should be there.

Scroll down to the bottom and look for an icon that says either Softaculous or Fantastico (They both do similar things) and click on that icon. From there search through all the options until you find the one that says WordPress. Select that and then select install. Pick a login name and password, make sure that the box that says folder name is empty and the rest is pretty much done for you with minimum involvement.

If you now open another browser tab or window and type in your domain name (only) you will now be taken to a ‘welcome to wordpress’ page. Your website is now growing! But it looks a little dull and there’s a few things you’ll want to do to really get it going.

To make changes to your blog, both for content and appearances you need to log into the WordPress admin area. This will be at http://www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin where you’ll be taken to (another) login page and use the username and password that you selected when you set up WordPress. You’ll then be taken to the WordPress Dashboard which may not look like much fun, but you’ll be spending a lot of time here, so get used to it.

Down the left side – about half way down is the word ‘Appearance’ and when you hover over it, you’ll get a pop out menu. Select ‘Themes’. There will be a small selection of the WordPress default themes (that some people never get beyond) but there is a whole new exciting world out there and you should explore it.

At the very top there is a button that says ‘Add New’ where you’ll be taken to the latest selection of free themes that WordPress offers… and there are thousands! To add to the confusion you can also install premium themes that you have to pay for, anything from a few dollars to a few hundred, and some that do very clever stuff that means your site wouldn’t even be recognised as being WordPress based. Best leave those for later. This is a K.I.S.S. program!

Pick a theme that seems to fit in well with your niche or what the people who visit your niche would like to see. If you’re talking about video games then strong colours would be OK, but if your target market is young women then softer pastel colours might be more appropriate. I’m not trying to be sexist here, but you do want your audience to feel comfortable at your place.

If you’re doing something more personal then keep it simple. Your choice is not final either. For the most part, if another theme comes along later that you like more than your current theme then you can easily switch back and forward to see which you’d prefer, so no need to deliberate too long over your choice as you can change your mind later with minimal problems.

Once you’ve picked a theme (for now) then go just under Appearance and select Plugins. Plugins can add all sorts of functionality to WordPress and are part of its real power. Again plugins come free or paid and are just as easy to install as themes.

You will come across a huge number of discussions as to what could be considered ‘essential’ and I don’t wish to add to the debate. Here’s my list of free plugins that I think you should consider.

  • Akismet – is there by default. Pop along to the home site (it’s linked) and get the API key. Akismet does its best to block spammy comments.
  • Wordfence – it won’t hack-proof your blog but it will deter the casual hacker.
  • Google Sitemaps – creates a Google friendly sitemap with every new post.
  • Quickshare – A social media links plugin. There are a few others to choose from. All you need is something so that visitors can share your posts on their social media sites.

Don’t add too many plugins to start with. Some of them conflict with each other and some will also slow your site down if too many are added. Add them one at a time and re-test your site each time.

Also remove ones that you added to test and then find you are not using. They should not have too much effect if they are merely deactivated, but always best to remove them once finished with.

The last place to go on this first visit is at the top of the left hand menu. Posts, Media, Pages and Comments.

Posts are where you will add your blog posts. There is a visual editor and text editor tab. The visual editor is not fully ‘what you see is what you get’ but you will get a good impression of the layout. The text tab is for those who know their way around HTML coding. You’ll probably learn how to use that tab as you need to.

Media is where you add your own pictures and videos that you want to include in your posts. It’s either drag and drop from your folder to the media area or browse the traditional way. 20Mb is the current maximum media size so if you want bigger videos you may have to put them up on YouTube and link to them from your post (A YouTube link should automatically be picked up and the video inserted into your post).

Pages are another form of a Post but will appear in the menu if the theme you have chosen provides one.

Comments are where you will approve the hundreds of comments that visitors will leave after they have visited your magnificent site.

Now there are a lot of settings in other places and some themes and plugins will give you more when they are activated. The best thing to do with them is experiment to see what you think your visitors would like. Give them an opportunity to comment by switching the comments on. Have your home page show a selection of clips of your last few blog posts or just the latest one. These things and more are now under your control.

Have fun playing and discovering. You’ll learn so much more that way than me just telling you.

If you really get stuck there is an official WordPress forum at wordpress.com and many out there available just by searching. The answer you seek will be out there.

Go back to Part 1 – HERE

Setting Up Your First Web Site – part 1

Getting started with a web site of your own

A lot of people have been asking how to get a web site up and running and although there is a ton of info out there on how to do it, most of it being behind a membership site or spread over several sites with different interpretations, I thought I’d add my detailed ‘how to’ where everyone can find everything that they need in one place.

We’re told time and time again that we need a website of our own, our own domain name and a blog for us to tell the world what we’re doing. You may have noticed that Alex Jeffreys also uses his domain name (www.marketingwithalex.com) for a lot of his promotion pages, putting them into sub-folders from the main site but not linked from the home page. If it’s good enough for AJ, it’s going to be good for us too.

This is going to end up a pretty big document so chances are it’s going to be spread over 2 or 3 posts.

Right then. Let’s get started.

 

Get Your Domain Name

First thing we want is domain name. To get one of those we need to go to a domain registrar. The 2 best know registrars are GoDaddy and Namecheap. My personal preference is for Namecheap only because GoDaddy have been known to be a little trigger happy if someone complains to them about a domain. They’ll take it offline without telling you and it’s up to you to contact them and find out why. I’m not saying Namecheap wouldn’t but they’re not so quick about it. They’re not the only registrars but they’re certainly well known.

Registrar accounts are free and there is no harm in having an account at each one. If you start to buy other domains, you will need an account at the same registrar that the seller has the domain name registered at (or it will cost you more in domain transfer fees).

A domain name is made up of several parts. Taken from the right hand end first, the bit that ends ‘.com’, ‘.co.uk’, ‘.us’ ‘.biz’ etc is known as the Top Level Domain. This used to identify the type of site or the country of origin – com & biz being commercial or business, org being charities or non-profit organisations, net being web hosts and registrars etc. These days anyone can grab almost everything except for a reserved few (.gov, .ac). Country specific domains are pretty much reserved for people or site based in that country, with a few notable exceptions (.tv is not specifically for TV stations who do use it, but for the country of Tuvalu in the Pacific Ocean).

Before you go to any domain registrar, have an idea in your head about what name you want to use. If it’s for a personal journey blog then try to have your full name or if it’s for a particular niche then try to involve a good keyword or something meaningful to that niche.

If possible, don’t use hyphens in the name and always stick to .com, .org or .biz unless your site is solely for a single region then you can for a country domain. Stay away from .info as it is seen as slightly ‘spammy’. There is a whole host of new top levels coming onto the market soon but as yet we can’t tell how they’ll be viewed by the market place and they will be more expensive. Personally speaking, I think ‘.guru’ & ‘.expert’ sound a bit pretentious.

So get to your domain registrar and try a few of the names to see if they’re available. Whilst you’re looking and checking, put ones you really like into your shopping cart. The reason for this is some less scrupulous registrars instantly register ‘searched for but unused’ names so that they can sell them to you later for a higher price or piggy back on your success should you choose something close. When you’ve made your final choice just delete the ones you don’t want from your trolley before purchasing.

To save a bit of money and before you actually hand over your credit card, do a search for ‘your registrar’ coupons along with the month and year. It may only be 10% but it’s still a price reduction so take what you can get. Example ‘Namecheap coupon July 2014’ (without the quotes).

Another tip is that Google likes sites that are going to be there for the long term, so if you can afford 2 or 3 years (or more) registration at once then go for it (10 years is the maximum).

 

Get Web Hosting

If the domain name is the bit people remember when they want to find you, then web hosting is the place where they will end up. It will cost you anything from free to hundreds of dollars per month. So what do you get for your money?

Well for free – you’ll get a slow connection, possibly adverts that favour the host and a very restricted space and bandwidth allowance. You probably also won’t get easy-to-install add ons like Softaculous or Fantastico which help you to install WordPress – the easiest way to put a blog up. You can install WordPress manually but if you’re not totally familiar with it, it can quite an ‘experience’.

The same as above could be said for web hosts for web hosts that charge only a few dollars ‘for life’.

Look for webhosts  that offer the following:

CPanel – most of them do, but there are a few reliable and well liked suppliers who don’t and supply their own control panel. Stick with the herd and learn CPanel. It will be far easier to get help if you need it.

The ability to host multiple domains. Essential as sooner or later you are going to want a 2nd (20th, 30th) domain name. For the  same reason you’ll need a good supply of databases. Don’t worry what for just yet. Just look for the right features.

Plenty of space – actually this is not too bad. The kind of websites we’re going to be building are not huge space hogs and by the time they do get large we will be able to afford more space anyway. One gigabyte (1Gb) is plenty although most will tell you unlimited is available.

Good bandwidth – This is more essential than space really. People these days will not tolerate a slow website. It’s difficult to gauge what is ‘good’ and figures quoted are meaningless without knowing how many people are sharing that bandwidth. Searching for complaints about a given hostname might reveal some clues, but even no complaints doesn’t necessarily mean no problems!

Installation apps – Known as Fantastico or Softaculous, these apps allow the easy installation of many well known web site foundations. The one we’ll be particularly interested in is WordPress, but there will be others of interest too, once we get some experience and learn what they’re for.

My own choice in this matter is http://www.hostgator.com  They don’t have the reputation that they once had but they are still solid and reliable.Go for the ‘Baby’ plan as it offers all of the requirements above and has a good support system.

As with Namecheap their purchasing system is easy to follow. Put in the domain name you purchased when the hosting company ask for it and wait for the email from them which has some important details on. One of those details needs acting upon immediately, if not sooner.

 

Join the Two Together

On the email you receive from your new hosting company there will be your login details, perhaps some other server details and 2 very important lines. They will probably be labelled DNS1 & DNS2. DNS is short for Domain Name Server and is the translation between the name you type in and its location in the world. It is the postal service that stands between a letter and its delivery.

Go back to your domain registrar (Namecheap if you used them) and log in. One of the options will be domain management and within that section will a selection marked nameservers. Select ‘custom’ or ‘external’ name servers and fill in the top two boxes with the complete DNS server names you’ve been given. (They usually look like ns1.hostname.com & ns2.hostname.com). Press SAVE and wait, at least overnight but usually up to 24 hours. This is while the details are shared with nameservers around the world, so that anyone, anywhere can access your website.

And that’s it. After 24 hours you should be able to type your domain name into a browser and be taken to your very own website. At the moment it will either be a totally blank page or the web host’s default page, but it’s YOUR blank page. The next phase will be to put something there for people to see.

If for some reason you don’t get anywhere trying to reach your site… Check your spelling in the browser, check the domain name you actually bought (is it the one you think you bought?), check the DNS settings at the domain registrar. Give it another 24 hours before you complain to anyone (ask the web host first if everything is OK at their end, then try the registrar… So long as you are sure your spelling is correct).

 

Part 2 – HERE