I was planning on sharing a few blogging resources with you yesterday, but I crashed my site. So before I share the tips, I am going to share my experience and how it was resolved.
First I should tell you that I am not a techie. I wanted to move to WordPress and have a self-hosted blog for over a year, but the more I researched how to do it, the more overwhelmed I was by the idea of doing it myself. Especially since I would see “#wp blog crashed after I updated plugin. xhost isn’t responding to emails” in my twitter stream. My biggest fear was that I would crash my site and not be able to recover years of work.
I decided to have Angela Vinez to do the design work and migration instead of doing it myself. She recommended that I go with Hostgator for my hosting service. I had heard positive things about Hostgator from other bloggers that I trust as well so I visited their site and was pleased with what I read. One of the things I liked most about the company was that they had a phone number that I could call if I ever had any problems. That may seem silly, but if you are not tech savvy, it is hard to explain problems in an email. I wanted a human with a clue if my site crashed.
Angie worked way faster than I thought possible and had my blog moved shortly after I gave her my information. I was so nervous about crashing my new site that I was afraid to do anything behind the scenes. Angie encouraged me to start adding plugins and eventually I did. And in a few days I was chugging along, adding plugins and moving widgets. I actually forgot that I was ever afraid of crashing my site which is why I was shocked when I got a fatal error message after updating a plugin. Fatal Error! That’s a bad thing – I couldn’t access my dashboard or view my blog. At all. I experienced ten emotions in less than ten seconds and settled on forlorn: “I’ve lost everything. Why did I think I could do this? I shouldn’t be trying to blog at this level; it is beyond my capabilities”.
The Eeyore act wasn’t helping so I decided to pray. I tried my blog again… and got another fatal error message BUT at that moment I remembered that I followed the advice I read on Blogging with Amy and backed up my blog. So I decided that maybe it wasn’t really a fatal error. A problem yes, but I began to believe that it was something I could recover from. I emailed Angie with the very calm subject line: HELP! She responded by telling me that we could get my blog back up, but to try calling my hosting company first to see if they could fix the problem.
Oh yeah, Hostgator, the company with real people a phone call away to help solve my problems. I called and reached Samir who isolated the problem plugin and disabled it. In minutes I had my blog back exactly as it was before the error.
To save yourself a lot of grief:
1. Go with a trusted hosting company, one that is committed to helping you resolve your problems quickly.
And my tip for staying calm when your blog crashes: remind yourself as soon as possible that you have done steps 1 and 2.
Resources that I was going to share on Saturday:
I love Pinterest! It is a digital pin board where you can keep track of ideas, recipes, and tips by category. Pinterest lets you select an image to go with your link, making it really easy to find “pinned” items. If you would like to join and need an invite leave me a comment letting me know.
I am still experimenting with Google+, but I think I am going to like this new social network. It allows you to create circles and share posts to specific circles (or multiple circles) rather than share with everyone, but you can share posts publicly if you want to. The best thing about Google+ is that you can edit your post if you misspell a word! Second best thing is that you can use italics, bold, and you can
strike through words. If you want to learn more, read The Complete Guide to Getting Started with Google+.
I want to share some tips I picked up from the Savvy Blogger Conference from following the attendees’ tweets on Twitter, but first I want to share a twitter tip: Find out the #hashtag that is being used on twitter by a particular group that is of interest to you, search on it, and save that search. I used Hootsuite to follow the #sbsummit hashtag used by those who attended the Savvy Blogging Conference and picked up some nuggets, including:
Zemanta is a great (and free) resource for pictures, links, and linking to post within your own blog. Zemanta can be downloaded to your browser, Live Writer, or through a plugin on your self hosted WordPress blogs. Because of yesterday’s “fatal failure” I decided to experiment with it on my Live Writer account before downloading a plugin.
Inbound Writer is a resource that makes suggestions to improve the SEO and rank of your articles. I experimented by inserting an old article in their program ( you are only allowed 8 free uses per month, but I thought it was worth burning one of my freebies up to understand the program better). I followed the program’s commands and entered 3 keyword (or key phrase)search terms. Next I entered the URLs of three competitors (Bonus: Inbound Writer does not laugh at you for entering the URLs of blogs that are only competitors in your wildest imagination). Based on this information, Inbound Writer shares keywords or key phrases that will improve your article. It also scores your your article and offers tips like “you are not using high ranked terms” or “you need more relevant terms”. This might seem obvious, but for someone who once wrote a post on coffee titled “How to Make Your Own Legal Stimulants” and now gets a ridiculous amount of traffic from the key phrase “”how to make stimulants” it is a useful reminder. I am not sure how helpful this will be for recipe based posts, but I think it will definitely help when I write tutorials so I will save my 8 free uses for those posts.
Make your blog smart phone friendly. 50% of Americans are going to have smart phones by Christmas 2011. I believe this statistic because even I have one now and I am always slow to catch on to the latest technology. So I downloaded the WP Touch plugin to my site. It speeds up viewing time from smart phones, by listing the last several posts without any of the extraneous graphics. It also allows readers to easily comment on their smart phones.
Have you discovered any useful resources lately?
Disclosure: I have included an affiliate link for Hostgator in this post, but I would not recommend them if I was not completely satisfied with their service.