Secrets that are guaranteed to make your life easier and your website more secure?
Welcome to the first in an occasional series about WordPress, blogging, email marketing and other things geeky.
Many of my clients, readers, and colleagues — the Magnolias West tribe — are doing their online businesses and blogs on a WordPress site. And since I’m passionate about all things geeky, I’m going to share some of the awesome WordPress secrets I have learned and continue to learn — there’s a lot to know! I teach this information one-on-one and in Facebook groups all the time; and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned with you. None of the links in today’s post are affiliate links; I’m simply sharing the tools I know about, use and love.
All the solutions I suggest can, beloved, be implemented by you, or by your awesome web-savvy virtual assistant (VA), or [ahem] you could call me; I can help. If you have questions about any of this stuff, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you understand.
Today we’ll look at secrets in these three areas: backups, updates and how to find out what you need to know
Servers are unstable (they’re just computers), and just because you’re paying for hosting doesn’t mean your site is protected enough by your host to recover everything if your site crashes. Your site is self-hosted, right? Which means its url is yourawesomebusinessname.com, not wordpress.com/yourawesomebusinessname. (If you haven’t made this change yet to a self-hosted site, please do — you get a lot more functionality, and you have a more professional domain name), and if you need help doing this, please get in touch with me.) Many of us, me included, buy cheap shared web hosting when we’re starting out, and servers can go down. Just like that. Often. So you need to have a backup scheme in place.
Consider this scenario: Your site is on cheapsocheaphost.com and boom! — they go down. For days. How empowered would you feel if you could find a better host (more uptime, managed hosting), and in a matter of a couple of hours have your last backup (less than a week old) to the new host, change the settings so that the interwebs see your new site, and move on! The way you do this is to have a backup plugin that automagically backs up your entire site every week (because you told it to do so), keeps a copy on your web host, and to cover your butt in a most elegant way, makes a copy to another cloud independent of your host (also because you told it to do so) — I send my copy each week to my Dropbox. The two most popular backup plugins these days are Backup Buddy (annual fee, which I use) and Back WP Up (free and fee versions available). Please, get one and set it up.
Updates and compatibility
Have you noticed that little circle with arrows with a number next to it on your WordPress dashboard right next to your site name — the number that seems to grow bigger every time you log in? That’s the number of updates that are waiting for you to run them. WordPress is open source, which means that different developers, and different coders, are providing not only WordPress, but the plugins you run on your site. As WordPress itself gets updated (which seems to happen every other day these days, doesn’t it?) your fabulous plugins may no longer play nicely with WordPress or other plugins. It’s an ever-changing playground.
One of the ways you can stay on top of this is to schedule time for you or your VA to regularly run all the updates that are waiting for you, and then to check your live site and make sure that nothing has gotten broken. Sometimes you might find yourself with a broken website. The best way to diagnose and fix this is to turn off all plugins and turn them back on one at a time until you find the culprit. Tedious, yes, but it works.
Sometimes you just gotta say goodbye to your favorite plugin because it no longer plays nicely with everything else. And then you get to replace it with something just as cool or even better! One way to save yourself headaches as you go is to look around and see what seems to be working well, plugin-wise, on longstanding websites in your niche. Use what they use. Believe me, those who have gone before have done a lot of the investigation for you; copy their results — you’ll sleep better at night.
How in the world am I supposed to figure this stuff out?
Two answers: Google and an amazing free WordPress manual. Google is your friend. If you get stuck, and none of your WordPress buddies are available, Google your question. Like: “How do I get multiple paragraphs in a bullet list WordPress?” or “best social sharing plugins WordPress” or “improve SEO WordPress.” You will probably find what you need.
There’s one more really cool resource to share. A man named Anthony Horton has written and is giving away a really really really good WordPress manual called Easy WP Guide WordPress Manual. It’s as good or better than the manual I dreamed of writing for a couple of years now. But now I don’t need to because Anthony has done such a good job. Get yours here. Getting the manual from his site is the best way to go, because then you get notified whenever he updates it. Perfection!
Was this helpful? I hope so!
Did I leave anything out?
Let me know in the comments what you think, what you want to add, and especially what you’d like me to cover in the world of WordPress and blogging in the next installment of this series.