Archive for the Category »Blog Maintenance «

After you’ve blogged for awhile, you realize there’s more to blogging than just writing.

There’s behind the scenes maintenance; a task some of us would rather forget about.

Today’s Lesson

Over the past few weeks, I learned two great lessons.

  1. If my blogs load slow, chances are, I haven’t done my homework.
  2. If I don’t empty out my spam folder, I may be in violation of the terms of service for my web host.

When I first noticed my blogs were loading slow, I blamed it on my old computer. Then I thought it was Firefox. But after I tested my blog speed on WebSiteOptimization.com and YSlow (a Firefox addon), I found

  1. I had too many images on my home page.
  2. I had images which were not compressed.
  3. I wasn’t utilizing my caching plugin to it’s fullest potential

To correct the above problems,

  1. I removed a few of the images from my home page.
  2. I installed the “Smush It” plugin – which compresses photos.
  3. I chose more options for the WP Super Cache plugin.
  4. I also made a note to myself: when I make changes to my blogs, test the blog page loading time.

With regard to my second problem, my web host (BlueHost) sent me an email stating my account had been deactivated. They requested a call from me to discuss the problem(s). When I called them, they stated I had “inappropriate” content in my spam comments folder and I was in violation of their terms of service, which reads, in part:

Prohibited Offerings. No Subscriber may utilize the Services to provide, sell or offer to sell the following: controlled substances; illegal drugs and drug contraband; weapons; pirated materials; instructions on making, assembling or obtaining illegal goods or weapons to attack others; information used to violate the copyright(s) of, violate the trademark(s) of or to destroy others’ intellectual property or information; information used to illegally harm any people or animals; pornography, nudity, sexual products, programs or services; escort services or other content deemed adult related.

Profanity. Profanity or profane subject matter in the site content and in the domain name are prohibited.

Because I wasn’t able to access the back side of my blog (dashboard), the technician (patiently) gave me instructions on how to delete the spam comments via my cPanel. When I was done, I was instructed to call them back, which I did and they immediately reactivated my blogs.

This problem taught me two lessons:

  1. Read the terms of service for your webhost
  2. Empty your spam folder(s) on a regular basis

In order to avoid having the same problem in the future, I

  1. Installed the G.A.S.P. plugin which verifies those who comment are not spammers or spambots, thus reducing spam.
  2. Delete any spam comments which do come through.

As much as we’d rather spend our blogging time writing or commenting, in order for our blogs to run smoothly, regular maintenance needs to be performed, too.

What say you?

Today’s Assignment

How often do you do maintenance to your blog(s)?

When’s the last time you tested your blog’s loading time?

Care to share?

signature for blog post

P.S. All of my blogs have been hosted with BlueHost* since March 2007. The problem I had resulted from me not reading their terms of service and not deleting the inappropriate spam comments.

*Affiliate link

I like to decorate our home for Christmas.

When I do, the process is pretty simple. I remove my normal decorations and before each spot is cold, I’m adding Christmas decorations.

Photo of Coco Chanel taken in 1020

Coco Chanel

For a month or more as these decorations surround me. I enjoy looking at them. I enjoy having them around. I enjoy the season.

Christmas passes. The New Year comes. It’s time to put the holiday decorations away.

Time to start anew.

This year I noticed something.

Because I was being more methodical about putting the Christmas decorations away and ridding myself of those which no longer brought me joy, where those decorations had been housed, looked REALLY empty. Void of clutter.

In fact, my eyes moved around each room without stopping. Without being distracted.

I liked what I saw.

I redecorated with less.

Today’s Lesson

Blogs are like that.

When we first start blogging we have a blank canvas. If we use WordPress, we see the “Hello World” post, but nothing else.

Sidebars are empty and the header only contains the name of our blog (and maybe the tagline).

The blog is pretty bare.

As time passes, we begin to fill the blank spaces. Just like decorating a home and hanging artwork on the walls.

But, unlike a home which we may decorate for a holiday and then start over, with a blog we often forget to clear the clutter.

In fact, sometimes we add more.

We become blind to how it looks to others.

But our visitors notice.

To them, our blogs may seem cluttered. Busy. Hard on the eye.

In truth, they may have trouble finding our content.

But we don’t see it.

We live on our blogs and know exactly where everything is. Every button. Every banner. Every widget or plugin. They’re all in the same spot we left them.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking it’s time I clear the clutter and get rid of widgets which take up space and ads which don’t pay.

It’s time to start anew.

What say you?

Today’s Assignment

How often do you clean up your blog?

What’s your first impression of a blog which is cluttered?

Care to share?

signature for blog post

P.S. French fashion designer Coco Chanel (1883-1971) is known for the quote, “Before you leave for the day…take one thing off…” She knew the secret to not letting our accessories distract from our beauty.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Before you spend your time reading this post, I will warn you, we’re discussing a topic many bloggers prefer not to think about. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you want to read this post, or just move on.

You see, we’re talking about making our blogs, “our babies”, safe and secure.

Continue reading, or not….

*******


I can still remember when I crashed my blogs.

I stared at the error message on the screen and got sick to my stomach.

Being new to blogging, I didn’t know what to do so I kept refreshing the page thinking it would correct itself.

It didn’t.

In all honesty, I knew it was what I had done behind the scenes that created that error. I “thought” I knew what I was doing.

I didn’t.

Today’s Lesson

It’s one thing when we mess around behind the scenes and crash our blogs. We know who to blame. We know what we did. And we know we can either reverse what we did or call someone and have them fix it.

But, what happens if someone else does that to us?

What happens if someone hacks our blog?

That’s different as we don’t know what “they” did, nor do we necessarily know how to fix “it”.

Hackers will hack any ‘ole blog, because they can. No blog is exempt. Not mine, not yours, not anyone’s.

When his wife’s online jewelry site was hacked and her monthly sales dropped from $1000 to zero, John Hoff of WP Blog Host made it his mission to learn everything about hackers; how they think, how they hack and most importantly, how to secure a WordPress blog against them. With Lindsey”s site being her “baby”, and her online income helping to support their family, John vowed he would never let that happen again. Not to Lindsey. Not to him. Not to you.

John spent months studying everything he could find. As he learned, he documented his findings.

It is from the knowledge he gained and the lessons John learned, how the “WORDPRESS DEFENDER” ebook was born.

This 150 page guide is like no other. John includes hints, tips, tweaks and plugins we can use to secure out site, all written in an easy to understand language. To make things even easier, he includes 14 step-by-step bonus videos to keep those hackers at bay.

An example of the topics he covers include such things as

  1. How to easily back up all of your files
  2. WordPress upgrades and how to deal with them
  3. Picking, protecting and managing your passwords
  4. The truth about plugins
  5. The best form of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to use
  6. Login lock downs and firewalls
  7. Writing and using a .htacess file
  8. How intruders find blogs to hack via search engines
  9. What a hack might look like
  10. Plus much more

Although this security guide and videos will set you back $39, it’s a small price to pay when we consider the alternative.

When I crashed my blogs, I lost a day getting my blog back online. When Lindsey’s blog was hacked, it took John, who knows what he’s doing, nearly a week (in his free time) just to figure out where the hack was located. From there, he recreated the site, but before it could be reactivated, he also needed to reload all of the products onto the newly rebuilt site. In the meantime, Lindsey’s page rank plummeted to zero, as did her sales.

Many of us bloggers prefer not to even think about our blog being hacked, let alone having to learn how to secure it. But as our blogs grow, and our traffic and page rank increases,  it becomes imperative we either learn to protect our investment, or hire someone to do it for us.

Like many of you, this is an area I also avoid, but with the “WORDPRESS DEFENDER” in my library, I know my blogs will soon be safe, secure and locked down.

For all the work John has done on the ebook and videos, I’ll be forever grateful.

Thank you, John.

Today’s Assignment

Have you ever crashed or had your blog hacked? If so, how did you get it back up and running?

If not, how do you think you would react?

If you’re not a WordPress blogger, how do you secure your blog?

And finally, how often are you backing up your database and/or files? (You are doing backups, right?)

Care to share?

signature for blog post.

As a final note. When John emailed this book and video series to me, I told him I’d take a look at it, but wouldn’t commit to an endorsement as I feel the best way to find what works for each of us is to be a smart, informed consumer. However, this book and video series far exceeded my expectations. In fact, when I opened it and started reading, I sent John an email which in part said,

HOLY CRAP! [excuse the language]

I was just reading/skimming your ebook. It’s phenomenal, and I haven’t even gotten to the videos.

All I can say is WOW! WOW! WOW!

P.S.S. Although the links to WordPress Defender are affiliate links, I would have no problem endorsing this book for free. For all you WordPress bloggers out there, why not buy the book, use some of the hints and tips to begin securing your blog, sign up to become an affiliate, and write a review on your site. With just a few sales, you will have earned the cost of the book back. How cool is that?

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