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Lessons Learned while Changing Blog Themes

Aside from the technical aspects that I learned while changing themes (such as installing WordPress in another directory and linking it to the root), I learned that it’s good to go through your blog every once in a while and tighten up a few things.

Typical Newbie MistakeNew Blog Theme

Eons ago when I started this blog I really didn’t have an understanding of what blog categories were all about.  I created categories on the fly.  Just about every new post had a new category.  It got to the point where I had so many categories that I didn’t think I could possibly create a new category for this blog.

On top of my lack of category knowledge I knew even less about WordPress tags.  It wasn’t until about a year or so after I’ve been blogging that I discovered a use for tags.  I think I’m still a little fuzzy on the tag issue but I use them nonetheless.

Categories and Menus

Imagine my shock and surprise when I realized that WordPress categories could be used as menu items.  Yes, sad to say, I’m just finding this out (ya think one of my readers would have enlightened me?)  😉

Anyway, my current category structure here at NJFM is so crazy that it’s going to take quite some time to sort through them.  Let’s face it, with a little over 400 posts and almost as many categories, there’s a lot of consolidating to do.

Why I Selected a Solostream Theme

I purchased my theme from Solostream again.  The old theme was from Solostream too. After searching around the internet and trying the Thesis format (for a hot minute), I decided to go back to what I knew (yes, that is a Solostream affiliate link).

As a matter of fact, I purchased three Solostream themes.  This one is called WP-Clear.  I also purchased WP-MedMag (which I use on my BLULOW blog) and WP-DaVinci (which I’m in the midst of configuring for a different blog).  I bought the three themes because they have a holiday three-for-one sale going on so I couldn’t resist.  If you decide to purchase themes from Solostream, enter “happyholidays” in the discount code section to get the discounted price.

Not for the FaintheartedTweak

I like the look and feel of the Solostream themes, but they don’t come that way out of the box.  I had to tweak (am still tweaking) and play around with the code a bit.  Their back end interface has several configuration options, but it always seems that the options I want to change can only be changed by going into the .css or .php files.

Fortunately, Solostream has a top-notch support forum and their folks are good at providing tutorials and answering specific coding questions.

My Writing Break

Playing around with blogs and themes is a nice break from writing. It not only gives me a chance to do something different, it helps me to come up with a host of writing topics.

Just a warning, if you come to NJFM and its not here, it’s because I went one tweak too far.

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Crystal December 2, 2010, 1:33 pm

    Am I correct in thinking that WP categories are what Blogger calls labels? Or are labels the same as tags? Or does WP have two things while Blogger only has one? This is so confusing:)

    • Felicia December 3, 2010, 5:55 am

      Crystal, it’s so nice to “see” you. Like the gravatar!

      I think the Blogger categories are the same as labels. And yes, Wordpress has two while it seems that Blogger only has one. I think they do this just to keep us guessing.

      • Crystal December 3, 2010, 10:54 am

        Thanks for the clarification – that’s what I thought. On the gravatar – I finally got tired of not having a little picture like everyone else and got instructions from Christina over at Cash Campfire. I would have done a search to figure it out myself but didn’t even know what it was called. And “little picture” didn’t get me the results I needed:)

  • Ira December 2, 2010, 8:08 pm

    I do like the new theme here… it seems a little easier to navigate around for us on this end.

    Can you customize the color schemes with solostream themes? When I set my pages up, I will want to do darker backgrounds. Mainly for my own satisfaction, since white backgrounds are extremely hard for me to read with my eye issues hehe

    Anyhow, just wondered about that. I wonder if you will end up seeing more views overall because of the changes. Heard that Google likes to see changes like this happen on blogs and will up your score in the end.

    • Felicia December 3, 2010, 6:03 am

      Ira, you can change the colors with Solostream. That’s one of the easier items to configure.

      As far as more traffic only time will tell. So far it seems that my traffic has increased quite a bit, but I’d like to see what happens over the next few weeks. I’m not so sure that this is a good time of year to pay much attention to traffic stats with the holidays coming up.

    • Felicia December 3, 2010, 6:21 am

      Ira, your comment got me to thinking. With today’s technology, there has to be a way to modify the background color of a webpage to make it easier to read for folks with disabilities.

      I don’t know which browser you use, but I found a forum that gave instructions for modifying the background and text color in Firefox to make it easier to read.

      In Firefox go to Tools – Options – Content – Colors

      Here you can select the text and background colors that work best for you.

      Before you click “OK” make sure to uncheck the box that says “Allow pages to choose their own colors, instead of my selections above”

      Once you click “OK” the webpage colors will change.

      I haven’t tried it on Internet Explorer as yet, but I got so excited I wanted to share it with you. Now I’m off to try it on Internet Explorer.

      (edited to add IE)

      OK, I’m back and I tried it on Internet Explorer.

      Here’s what you do:

      Go to Tools – Internet Options – Colors

      Select the colors that you want and click “OK”

      Then on the Internet Options window select “Accessibility”

      Place a check in the box that says “Ignore colors specified on webpages.” You can also choose to ignore font styles and font sizes too.

      Click “OK” and then click “OK” on the Internet Options window and you’re done.

      • Ira December 3, 2010, 7:16 am

        Thank you very much for thinking of me with that, Felicia! It’s much appreciated!

        I will give those a shot, I do use Firefox, and an addon I found for it called “No Squint” does somewhat well, in that it allows me to expand the text big time, but does not do so well when changing backgrounds lol its results vary and get rather weird lol

        I will see what the options you said will do for me, it’s always worth a try.

        It gets to be a pain since I have good days and bad days.. sometimes i get these really painful bubbles on my cornea that make it impossible to see out of one eye or both. Those days annoyingly put me out of writing commission lol (I am begging the wife for a Digital recorder for Christmas… can at least do the text to speech stuff 😉 )

        Anyhow.. Thank you again!!

        • Felicia December 3, 2010, 7:37 am

          I’m a big fan of voice recognition software and digital voice recorders.

          The software is not cheap, but it does pay for itself in the long run. While you’re waiting for your digital voice recorder, there’s a voice recognition software called e-Speaking.com. It’s free to download for 30 days and after that it costs $14 to activate in order to use the full version of the software.

          I haven’t tried it, but here’s the link. http://www.e-speaking.com/index.htm Their demos seem interesting. The software not only allows you to control your computer via voice commands and dictate correspondence, but it can read your letters, emails, etc back to you. I think it’s worth a look see.

          • Ira December 3, 2010, 8:09 am

            Oh my you are just a wealth of info! haha

            I will definitely check into that. I’d so love to use Dragon, as I have heard that one is the best, but it is speeeeendy lol

            I know windows itself comes with VRS, but it really seems unreliable hehe

            Thank you again, you wonderful little spark, you!

            (Oh by the way, I just crossed the $.04 threshold with Suite! woo!)

          • Felicia December 3, 2010, 8:27 am

            Ira, I’ve got to say, after checking out your Tommy video, I’ll never look at a salad the same way again! LOL! You are sooo creative and funny!

  • Prerna December 4, 2010, 9:00 pm

    Ohh.. Love the new look, Felicia.. So excited.. It looks wonderful, like a lovely ezine. Can’t wait to see what else you have in store.
    Sorry abt not being “here” more often.. Life just keeps getting in the way:-)
    Am wondering what are your goals for the New Year? Ebooks, speaking engagements, a vlog, a new website? You inspire me so much and motivate me to try higher and harder. So, do share!
    Warmly always,

    • Felicia December 5, 2010, 6:55 am

      Prerna, I understand about life getting in the way. As far as what’s in store for next year, I haven’t quite nailed that down as yet. I’ll spend some time this month coming up with my next year’s goals.

  • Ira December 4, 2010, 9:16 pm

    lol Thanks Felicia! I loved doing that video hehe

    I have a bunch of others that I am planning on linking in that blog site.

    I tried out the options you found for Firefox and it’s made things a bit easier for me to see, so thank you big time for the help there 😉

    And, another woot, i just crossed the $.06 threshold with suite haha 🙂 Yeahhhh I am on my way! 🙂

    • Felicia December 5, 2010, 6:56 am

      Ira, be careful not to spend your $.06 all in one place. 😉

  • Grandma December 5, 2010, 10:10 am

    Oh, Felicia, remember when $.06 would buy a first class postage stamp?

    • Felicia December 6, 2010, 7:24 am

      Oh yes, I remember the $.06 cent stamp. I also remember when a subway token was the size of a dime and cost $.20. Boy am I dating myself. 🙂

      • Ira December 6, 2010, 8:16 am

        Subway token? is that a cheap way to get a sammich? 😉

        Hey I was around when stamps were around $.10 or so… I remember breaking into my moms pag of them and using them as stickers

        Boy was my dad mad.. he asked me if i thought money grew on trees… i pointed out the fact that paper is made from trees and money’s made from paper…

        He didn’t care for that much lol

        Anyhow, I am up to .07 now! Course that’s with almost 500 PV so I am thinking I am doing something seriously wrong haha

        • Felicia December 6, 2010, 10:47 am

          Ira, I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. I’ve found that it takes a while with Suite. Also, it depends on your topics. As always products and services bring in the best ad revenue. Every once in a while, write about a product or service and you may notice a jump in your earnings.

          • Ira December 7, 2010, 12:41 am

            I appreciate that info.

            I understand that about the products and services. I guess I am just afraid of writing on a topic that has been covered too many times before and then trying to compete against that lol Afraid to cannibalize, I guess.

            So far, I’ve written about making emergency kits for your vehicle, tools for the household, ways to reduce heating bills, etc. Of course, those probably do not garner much in the ad revenue rofl

            What it comes down to is trying to find a way to change my mindset that high amounts of pageviews on Suite do not matter… it’s what those pageviews DO that matters. It’s a mindset that’s kinda opposite of everythin I had done so far lol

            I will say I have taken a lot of inspiration from YOU, by reading and rereading the articles relating to your residual income findings. Like how you’ve gained more in the end through the residual articles than you have witht he upfront pay (i.e. at DS). Knowing that YOU’ve done it gives ME hope that I am making the right choice in sticking to it.

            I’ve done about $200 worth of work for a client through elance, so that’s kinda where the mindset is interfering lol “Oh, you’ve made a lot from the upfront stuff, you’re never going to see that at Suite!” is the running argument in the mind.

            man… i do take up a lot of your comment space rofl 🙂

            Anyhow, I guess what I am trying to say is, thanks for being an inspiration, and I am working hard to figure out WHAT I can cover to get me there lol

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