How To

Build an E-commerce Store Using WordPress & Free Resources

If you are setting up a small e-commerce store, or just want to get your feet with e-commerce then WordPress is a good choice.     There are other open source solutions  like Magento and Oscommerce for example but they can be trickier to set up and lack the massive array of plugins that WordPress has to offer its users.

Setting up an e-commerce store with WordPress can be done for free other than the cost of  your store’s domain name.

My favorite free resources for  e-commerce are:

Woo Commerce plugin (for shopping cart and ordering) and

Wootique (theme to make your store pretty!).  Wootique may be considered to be a basic ecommerce WordPress them compared to premium WordPress themes but I think it’s simplicity and clean design is more attractive than some of the paid templates.

Follow along with these 11 short videos (each less than 5 minutes in length) that will guide you through setting up the E-commerce theme and plugin for your new store.

(click the square icon on the video player to view full screen size and use the scroller to scroll through to the next video)

WordPress, is not the best solution for every e-commerce store.    If you have a very large store with a lot of inventory, say 1000s of products (and images) and if you use drop shipping for fulfillment then you may be better off with a commercial solution. Shopify is a commercial hosted solution which has add ons to automate a lot of functions for you.  For large stores processing a lot of payments and stock using a commercial solution could  save you time in the long run.    As always, do your research and see what solution is best for your needs.

WordPress News

7 Wonderful WordPress Women

There are a ton of females blogging about  WordPress.  Often you don’t hear that much from WordPress women who code, design or make a difference to the development of WordPress or to WordPress users. They are out there.  There’s a lot of them, so I thought I’d pay tribute to some of the women I admire and who have inspired me.

It was really difficult actually limiting this post to just seven WordPress women because there are so many that I like that I might have to do another follow up post!

My first WordPress heroine

Lorelle VanFossen–  . Lorelle has to be at the top of my list because she’s certainly someone that has made a difference to WordPress. Lorelle gives out great tips and information on blogging with WordPress at her site. She is the author of a number of books including Blogging Tips: What bloggers won’t tell you about blogging and Social Media for Crafters: Covering the basics of the Social Web. In addition to her podcasts she volunteers writing the WordPress Codex and assisting in the WordPress Forums. She’s a regular guest blogger on popular sites like Blog Herald and Problogger (reading her bio makes me feel very lazy!).

I think Mark Ghosh of Weblog Tools Collection sums this amazing woman up best:

“Be kind, educate.

I adore Lorelle. To me, she is the embodiment of our community in everything she does and in every action she performs. She is supportive and critical at the same time. She embraces and challenges in the same breath. She sticks her tongue out and throws her arms wide open all in one swoop. I believe what makes her approach so nice is that she is kind to the people that can enact change and she loves to teach other people to do the things she does so well. She is a WordPress enabler.

I wanna be like her. So I pledge to be as kind as I can be and I promise to educate everyone that cares to listen. While I am at it, I hope to learn a thing or two along the way.”

Ditto – Mark 🙂

Goddess of  WordPress

Jennifer Stuart is another WordPress goddess,  in fact a Scripty Goddess 🙂 She is a WordPress theme designer and general all round developer with experience in other areas including shopping cart solutions. What I like about Jennifer is the information that she gives to WordPress users, and simple hacks that can make your life easier.

WordPress Developer with Heart

I love that Amber Weinberg   classifies herself as a  WordPress beast and a coder at heart. One of her sites is Hired.IM which is a job board that funds 50% of Code Club, a group inspiring kids that code is truly poetry.  She helps to make a difference to not only existing users of WordPress but also the next generation.

She’s no dummy

Lisa Sabin Wilson has helped a lot of  new WordPress users with the “dummy” series of  WordPress books.  She  is well known as the author of  WordPress for Dummies, WordPress Web Design for Dummies, WordPress All In One For Dummies  and Buddy Press For Dummies. She is a designer, theme creator and developer and partner at  Web Dev Studios.

Multi Site Knowledge Base

Andrea Rennick – I often think that Andrea is a chick that doesn’t sleep. She is so amazingly active in the WordPress forums that I shudder to think how many posts she has answered over the years (and how many have been variations of the same thing). She also works at Copyblogger adding to the customer service in the forum there and is well known, together with her husband Ron, for a ton of WordPress tutorials, plugins and themes with a main focus on WordPress multi site (or WordPress networking).

Behind the Scenes of WordPress

Jen Mylo aka Jane Wells – somewhat confusing 🙂 Jane/Jen is part of  the team at Automaticc (those responsible for letting us play for free with the best software in the world). Jen recently changed her name which you can read about here  if you want to clear the confusion 🙂 Jen/Jane is one of  many at Automaticc helping people enjoy WordPress, helping clients and improving the core WordPress. You can see some of what she does in action over at the WordPress community.

Words for  WordPress Users

Siobhan McKeown – describes herself as a translator for geek speak 🙂 She is the words behind many of the websites, user interfaces, read me files and instructional manuals for WordPress that are available.  She is also an editor at  Smashing Magazine.  She leaves the “code to the coders and helps translate geek speak to user friendly language that users and customers can understand”. You’ve probably seen her words at Manage WP, WPMU Tutorials, Sucuri and Smashing Magazine.  Here’s what Eric Hamm from Catalyst Theme had to say about her:

We contacted Siobhan about re-writing the copy on Catalyst to help better communicate our product and services with our potential customers. Within a few weeks we were in the process of re-designing our site around her perfectly tailored text and couldn’t have been happier! So now we are quick to recommend Words for WP to anyone in need to overhauling their less than effective web copy or who just don’t know where to start and need a push in the right direction.

Wicked Aussie Woman

Last but not least on this  list is Raena Jackson Armitage.   She is  the  co- author of  Build Your Own Wicked WordPress Themes and  Site Point contributor, WordPress developer (theme designer and coder) and the first Aussie on the list!  Her books and articles have helped to inspire new and more experienced WordPress users to delve into css and theme template files.

Got a favorite WordPress woman I haven’t mentioned?  Tell me in the comments below.

How To

Make Quick Customizations to Canvas WordPress Theme

The Canvas theme by Woo Themes is what this site is currently using.   Out of the box Canvas is pretty plain but the good news is that it is quite simple to make customizations to it (even if you are not a coding queen).

One of the quick changes that I made to WP Queen was moving the top navigation from the default left position to the right hand side.

This short video shows you how to move the navigation to the right hand side on the Canvas theme and the code used is below the video.

The css code used is:

[code lang=”css”]#top-nav {
float: right;

One of the other things that I wanted to change on the Canvas theme was the avatar image on the author profile and comments area. By default the image is round but I prefer the more traditional square avatar image. It’s quite simple to change the default avatar image to square with a little css.

This short video shows you where to paste the code to make the customizations and the css code used is below the video.

The css code used is:

[code lang=”css”]#tabs .inside li img.avatar, #tabs .inside li img.thumbnail {
background-color: #FFFFFF;
border: 1px solid #DDDDDD;
border-radius: 0 0 0 0;
float: left;
margin: 0 8px 0 0;
padding: 2px;
.entry img, .post img.woo-image, img.thumbnail {
background: none repeat scroll 0 0 transparent;
border: none;
padding: 0;
} [/code]

The other change that I wanted to make was to display the social media icons in the navigation menu line. This is an easy customization to make. All you need to do is copy and paste the shortcodes that Woo already provides for you.

This short video shows how to have social media icons in your navigation bar (my apologies for the barking dog in the background, what can I say – I love him but he can be naughty:) )

The Woo Short Codes can be viewed here.

These little customizations don’t take long at all to do and are easy to do even if you are unfamiliar with any type of coding.

How To

How to customize your WordPress Theme on a live site

I think at some stage we all want to renovate our sites.  You may want to change the entire layout of the site to make it more in keeping with what your visitor analysis tells you, or you may just want to change some colors, logos and graphics, or it may be a full scale renovation.


How do you change your theme, while your site is live, without visitors seeing the state of disarray?

There are quite a few solutions.

1)  if you are only changing a font, color or something easy you can put your site in maintenance mode or use theme switch.      The problem with using theme switch and preview is that if you are using a theme with theme options the plugin doesn’t display the options panel unless it has been enabled at least once.

2) set up xampp  or a wamp server on your computer and modify the theme from there.    You will need to install all the plugins that your current sites uses as well to do this and add some content so you get the true feel of your site. One problem that you may experience, when you finish modifying and install the new customized theme that there may be server incompatabilities.

Read more about installing wamp on your computer here.

3) set up a test bed on the same server that your site is hosting.  This way you know it is in the same server environment.   I usually do this via  a sub-domain or a directory and I clone the entire site using WP Twin.   This is what I chose to do and I prefer to set up test sites usually to test anything – plugins, new services, WordPress updates or themes.

Step 1

Using WP Twin I take a cloned copy of my original site, install  a new blog via fantastico on a directory or sub-domain and deploy the cloned site.   Now I have a true clone of my site that I can work on.  A clone of my site gives me a real feel for how things would  look on the live site.

The only problem with doing a complete clone is the size of your site and how fast your server is.   My clone took about three hours to load up!   (gave me time to do some housework while I waited).  Due to issues I was having with the server I also didn’t take my own advice and installed the clone on another site (this decision bit me on the bum later!)

Step 2

I made the customizations to the Canvas theme that I wanted on my test site.    There were a few things that I wanted to change; colors, fonts and I wanted a full width theme.   Once I was happy with the look, I then checked the site on my mobile phone and on an emulator.   Canvas is a responsive theme so I wanted to make sure that it loaded correctly on a mobile platform and check the overall site display and functionality.

Canvas has a theme functions backup which allows you to export any of the theme options you have changed and import them to another site using the theme.  I backed up the theme functions in Canvas/General Options and Downloaded the file for safekeeping (in case anything went wrong).  I then downloaded the  theme that I had customized on the test site from wp-content/themes/canvas.

Just in case anything went haywire I also copied any code or data from my text widgets into a text file so I could paste it in later if need be.

Step 3

Now, it was just a matter of going to my original site and quickly uploading the new theme, activating it and uploading the backup options.  I knew that I would have to do some playing around with the page menu navigation so I quickly switched to maintenance mode (Woo themes have a maintenance mode built in to their Woo DoJo plugin pack but you can also use a plugin from the repository.

I only intended to be in maintenance mode for a minute or so.  If I had anticipated being in maintenance mode for any period of time I would have used the theme switch and preview plugin.    This plugin would allow me to display my old theme to visitors while I did some quick changes to the new theme.

I could also have created a page to test my new theme on and used the Multiple Themes plugin.    This plugin would allow me to display my old theme to visitors and my new theme on a special page that I had set up for testing.   I would use this plugin in conjunction with Theme Test Drive to set the options in the Canvas theme.

Did things go smoothly?  um no

Just after I had switched to maintenance mode to fiddle with the menus and make sure everything looked good – I lost my internet connection.

To make matters worse because I didn’t use the same server as the original site a conflict arose on the new server.   Note: always use the same server!

Finally, my web host thought I was doing something “sketchy” and their in built firewall security ip blocked me.   Basically, I couldn’t access my site.   I was eventually unblocked, for half an hour, only to be blocked again.  Apparently, the matter that was sketchy was uploading a new theme!


Inbound Writer WordPress SEO Plugin Review

Inboundwriter is a free seo style plugin from the wordpress repository  They also have a premium version available as well.

What does inbound writer plugin do?

When you write a post it researches the content for you by going out into the internet, using real time seo intelligence, to find out what people are talking about on blogs and social media relating to your topic. It then gathers the popular terms for you to incorporate into your content.  This means that you can then use that data to  create content that has mass appeal.  If it has mass appeal then the logic is that your content will be widely shared and found on the net.

inbound-writer-wordpressThe inboundwriter plugin also assists you write your content by allowing you to set up a Document Strategy. There are three document strategies that you can select: target your content for search and social media, target it for adsense or target it for reader level (all education, high school, grade school etc).

Having a document strategy is something that can be extremely helpful when creating content and something, to be honest, I hadn’t given much thought to previously.

Inboundwriter plugin – Getting Started

In order to get started with your inboundwriter plugin you need to install it from the WordPress dashboard and activate the plugin.

You will then need to register at the inboundwriter site which you can do directly from the WordPress dashboard.

You might want to sign up at the same time for the inbound now newsletter which offers further tips and tricks to maximise the usage of the plugin.

Once you have done that it’s time to get going on your content ….

In order to see the inbound writer score that the plugin generates for you using real-time seo intelligence you need to type in at least 200 words inboundwriter. Once you have done that your inbound writer tallies will be created by the inboundwriter web tool.

This short video gives you a walk through using the plugin to create this post.


If you really want to improve your search engine reach, you can create similar posts on your site and use multi-blog publishing software to create more relevant content. This  is what the inboundwriter team suggest.


One thing that I did not like about the plugin is that in order to use all the terms that they suggest you either have to write a thesis or basically keyword stuff your post.  As the plugin generates  a lot of terms making a series of posts may be a better option (or longer posts)

The Document Score function can be a bit janky.   It only seems to play nicely on my few tests when you actually type the content in rather than paste it in.


Adsense Masters Course – The Final Blueprint Review

If you are looking to make money online with google adsense then having someone to give you adsense training is a good place to start.

There are a lot of adsense courses on the market and information available through google iteself on making money with the adsense program.

One course that I really like is the Adsense Master Course by John Robinson (also known as xfactor). I’ve written about John previously when he released his microniche adsense course years ago.

John has moved from the microniche model and teaches people now via his ebooks, forum and coaching groups how to build a solid auhtoirty site using adsense as the monetization method.

I picked up the Adsense Masters Course when it was first released. In fact, I was on the waiting list for it!

Here is what the course promises:

If you are expecting a short ebook full of fluff then you are in for a surprise. The ebook weighs in at a whopping 512 pages! Whilst there are some pictures and the usual disclaimers the bulk of the book is pure content.

Goal of the course:

To build a sustainable site where you don’t have to worry about Google updates and avoid “internet marketing fads and trends”

One of the things that John has done is divide the course into different phases and steps to make it easier to consume as follows:

1) Finding your niche
2) collecting resources
3) creating your 5 point mission statement
4) choosing domain and hosting
5) setting up WP (optional)
6) Adding social media (optional)
7) installing your site management tool
8) keyword strategy
9) content master – articles, curation, keywords, onpage seo
10)publishing articles
11) polishing your site
12) launching, seo and social
13) blog post action plan
14) checklists

Old hands that are familiar with John’s style are advised to go straight to phase 9 (which has a lot of information in it!).

If you are used to building sites around keywords then John’s insight into finding your niche may be a bit of a slap in the face. Truth is people have been building sites (very successfully) around that method for years. In fact, John has a little study on a guy that did the exact same thing whose site makes $500 per day (adsense and contextual ads) from a niche not based on keyword research and link building.

When most people think of building up an authority site one of  the first sticking points is how to write all the content. John has already got you covered there with some 45 template ideas on content creation.

Who is it suitable for?

[unordered_list style=”star”]

    newbies and more advanced users


Any upsells?

[unordered_list style=”star”]

  • Yes, there is an upsell to a forum to get more hands on help and guidance. The forum is by application only and charges a monthly fee. I did not take the upsell.



  • Really well laid out information that is “doable”
  • Step by step plans to guide you through all the phases of the bluprint
  • checklists to make it easier to action the steps (daily, weekly, mid year etc)
  • The 48 hour fast track plan is great for those that want to dive in straight away, rather than follow the checklist for slower results. The good thing is that John has considered the pace that people like to do things.


  • You will NOT make money overnight! Like all things you need to work and be committed to reach the figures discussed in the sales letter.
  • The ebook is set up for Google Adsense monetization. However, John does state (page 15) that no matter “what your monetizing interests are (Adsense, Affiliates, Product Owners, Etc.) this course is for you.
  • Adsense is not the biggest payer in the world and is known to be quirky (ie banning people). Think of the type of niche and if there are programs that could be used to replace adsense if you get banned or that could be used in conjunction with adsense.

John’s course is quite thorough so it would be impossible to give it a massive review without giving away too much of his information.

If I’ve whet your appetite [ilink style=”info” url=””]click here to find out more[/ilink].

How To

Convert a Joomla site to WordPress

I have never used Joomla in my life but I do know that it is a popular cms platform.

A know of quite a few people that have Joomla sites and want to convert them to WordPress so they can take advantage of the awesomeness created by the WordPress community 🙂

As most WordPress users know already it is easy to export content from a number of  platforms like Blogger for instance to WordPress using the Tools/Importer function built into WordPress.

I figured that there must be a quick and easy WordPress migrator  to do this with Joomla.

First of all though, in order to convert a Joomla site I actually had to build one!    I spent about half an hour building my very first Joomla site (be gentle on me Joomla users – I didn’t read the instructions) and then converted that site to WordPress in less than 5 minutes!

The quick video below shows how simple it is to convert your site to WordPress (5 minutes to watch).

[ilink style=”info” url=””]Resource Info[/ilink]