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What is Your Favorite Article on Lorelle on WordPress?

I’ve been asked to put together a best-of collection of Lorelle on WordPress articles in an ebook. Do you have a favorite?

I’m looking for articles that you’ve bookmarked and returned back to over the years to help you with WordPress and blogging, or articles that helped you understand and embrace a WordPress or blogging concept that changed your work and publishing.

Check all that apply in the poll below.

If you would like to visit the articles listed in the poll, here is the list:

Thank you!


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The Web is All About The Writing

Blog writing tips and articlesReading “7 Things You Need to Know about SEO in 2014” from Compete Pulse, I was fascinating to read that “size matters:”

Most blog posts range between 400 and 600 words, but the ideal length for highest ranking is actually around 1,500.

Many still believe that a successful website is one that offers the information the customer needs and nothing more. Or that the ideal post length should be short, 200-450 words.

It’s not. It’s about the words. It’s about the words it takes to make your point and answer the question.

In spite of my 2007 article, “Blogging Is About Writing,” on Darren Rowse’s Problogger, I still hear that blogging isn’t about writing. Learning how to write for the web isn’t as important as learning HTML, PHP, WordPress, SEO, web analytics, JavaScript, and serious coding.

After four years researching and fighting for a Writing for the Web course at Clark College and other schools around the globe, the first class was held this past Spring with good success, and push back from the students who believed that designing and developing for the web had nothing to do with learning how to write on the web.

It’s time to revisit this discussion and explain that blogging and web publishing, from the perspective of the designer and developer to the business owner, is one of the most critical aspects of our industry, and a skill that needs to rise to the top of your skill set and resume. If you can’t write in today’s web world, you are lost and losing out.

Let’s look at all we do on the web and how it relates to the written word. Read More »

Two WordPress College Classes Offered at Clark College This Fall

WordPress NewsThe WordPress I CTEC 160 courses at Clark College are about to close and there are still seats open in the Monday/Wednesday classes.

This fall there are two times to choose from. Days from 1-3:30PM and evenings from 6:30-9PM.

The 5-credit course covers the basics of WordPress, from content to design. Much of the classwork is done online in this fast-paced 12-week class includes creating your own test site and testing environment on WordPress.com and the self-hosted version of WordPress, guest blogging, working on a multiple contributor site, and managing client content.

This is a unique opportunity to not only dive deeply into WordPress as a user, client, designer, and developer, but also to learn from one of the world’s top WordPress trainers with 11 years of WordPress design, development, and training experience.

Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, honors Oregon Columbia River counties with no out-of state resident tuition, and lodging facilities are available for those traveling from greater distance.

This class is a fundamental and required part of the Web Design (CGT), Web Development (CGT), Server (CGT), Computer Support, and an elective for many other degree programs including English, Journalism, Business, marketing, and many more.

If you are a non-credit student, please tell registration clearly when you register.

To register, you may use the Quick Step Registration Form and include a note that you are a credit/non-credit student. Or visit Clark College and register at the registration office.

Registration for these two courses is ending very soon. We’ve only a few more days left, so register now.


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Robin Williams Starts Our Conversation on Depression, Suicide, and Mental Health

The world is grieving the loss of one of our favorite comedic and dramatic geniuses, Robin Williams, and the conversation begins about mental illness, depression, and suicide.

The Facts As We Know It: The news arrived about 3:30PM PST that the actor had died due to suspected suicide. CNN reported that according to the Marin County Sheriff’s office, Williams was pronounced dead at 12:02pm PST of suspected suicide due to asphyxia. The last post on his official site was a week ago. His last tweet was July 31, 2014, wishing happy birthday to Zelda Rae Williams, his daughter with Marsha Garces.

What We Feel: We’ve lost a best friend, one we’ve met through television, film, recordings, and comedy concert halls. Like many highly visible celebrities, we think we know them, then this happens, and we question what we knew, and what we wished we knew.

From time to time, Williams was open about his battles with drugs, alcohol, and depression. Some of my favorite quotes from Robin Williams include commentary on mental health as well as some great lines on the topic from his films.

  • “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
  • “Reality is just a crutch for people who can’t cope with drugs.”
  • “Freud: If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother.”
  • “Reality: What a concept!”
  • “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel alone.”
  • “You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.”
  • “What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.”
  • “I believe in destiny. There must be a reason that I am as I am. There must be.”

The next few months will be filled with conversations, positive and negative, as the facts, and rumors, flood the media waves about depression, mental illness, and suicide. We will celebrate the artist and the genius, but we will also have to face the hard questions.

Like many of you, my life has been touched closely by depression, personally and through family and friends. It comes in many shapes and forms, and rarely does it lead to extreme action, but it can. It is a sly form of mental illness, sneaking in when you least expect it, catching you off guard (“Me? I’m not depressed!”), or be a burden we live with every day, making the decision to keep one foot in front of the other on our journey through life day by day. Read More »

Find, Search, Replace, and Delete in the WordPress Database

The following was originally published on WordCast and authored by Lorelle VanFossen. It is reprinted here as a reference guide.

WordPress Tips and Techniques

  1. You’ve moved your WordPress installation from one server to another.
  2. You’ve changed domain names.
  3. You’ve moved images around on your server and now they don’t load.
  4. You’ve changed your WordPress installation and now images show blank boxes on your posts.
  5. You’ve changed your email address.
  6. An author has changed their name or URL.
  7. You’ve been asked to remove all of someone’s blog comments.
  8. You’ve turned things off during development and it’s time to turn them back on.
  9. You’ve gotten smart and changed your WordPress URL and installation from example.com/wordpress/ to example.com.
  10. You’ve realized that you’ve been misspelling “separate as “seperate” and you now need to fix all the missed spellings.
  11. You’ve realized that WP as an acronym isn’t as SEO friendly as you thought and decide to change them all to WordPress.

These are just a few of the reasons why you need to know how to do a search and replace in the WordPress MySQL database. Some people choose to export their entire WordPress site’s data and edit it in a text editor, but for those with hundreds or thousands of posts, it’s easier to do it in the MySQL database.

Playing with your WordPress MySQL database is not for the weak of heart and faint of code. There is much to fear. The worse case scenario is that you blow up your site. The best scenario is that you fix some problems that have been plaguing you. I’ve some warnings below, but trust that even someone with little coding experience can do this, if you are very, very careful and take precautions.

The following search and replace and delete WordPress-related queries for MySQL are included:

Read More »

Speed Blogging Tips and Techniques

The following are the workshop notes for my popular workshop on “Speed Blogging.” The workshop is designed to teach how to take charge of your website and keep the content flowing with enthusiasm over the long term by learning the shortcuts, tips, and techniques to speed up the process of blogging, allowing your blog to work for them, not you work for it. You will find many more tips and techniques for site management and motivation in my ongoing series called Blog Exercises.


Before we get to the speed blogging tips, especially for using WordPress, let’s get to the excuses that get in our way. After all, an estimated 95% of all bloggers give up after the first year, and it is my goal to make blogging fun and efficient, that you spend more time enjoying blogging than struggling with it.

Begin by realizing that blogging is just about writing, but not only about writing. Don’t like writing, try video or audio. Find a way that works with your personality and capabilities to keep your content going.

Find a way to make this fun. There are many ways beyond what I’m about to share with you to speed up the process of blogging to make it fun and fast, so you can get back to what you really want to do. I’d love to have you share them in the comments below. I’m always finding new ways to save a few minutes. Read More »

Your Blog is Your Business Card

The following are the notes for my popular workshop “Your Blog is Your Business Card”. The premise is that today’s business card can’t hold all the contact information necessary to connect adequately with potential clients, but the blog can. It is the holder of your contact information and online identity. The workshop covers the philosophy behind this position and helps the participant understand how to create an online persona.


In the Victorian age, calling cards or visitor cards were delivered to someone as a request for a meeting. If the recipient didn’t know the person, the information on the card, and tapping into their own social network for information on the stranger’s reputation, would help them decide whether or not to accept the invite.

Today’s business card would fill a billboard with all of the contact information we have on the web. Potential clients may connect with us through Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, Ravelry, MNng, YouTube, About.me, CafeMom, CaringBridge, 43 Things, deviantArt, DailyBooth, DailyMotion, Vimeo, Slideshare, MySpace, Orkut, Plaxo, Plurk, Wooxie, WordPress.com, Bebo…the list is long. That doesn’t include the more traditional email, phone, or snail mail.

While potential clients may find you through a search or these social media networks, the key to a successful online presence is to make it easy for your customers and contacts to find you where they hang out, and they find that information through your blog.

Let me explain first that a blog is a website. The definition of a website is a that is an address with a collection of web pages. A blog is a website, a collection of web pages presented in reverse chronological order. So a blog is a website and a website is a blog. I enjoy the word “blog” as it has many other stereotypical and emotional connotations, and it continues to be a disruptive force on the web.

That said, how does a blog become your business card, your representative on the web. Read More »

Sale on Lorelle’s Book “Social Media for Crafters”

Social Media for Crafters: Covering the Basics of the Social Web ebook by Lorelle VanFossenI’ve updated my popular ebook, “Social Media for Crafters,” and it’s on sale for the next week in honor of the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon, and to celebrate the power of the written word. The book will be on sale for only $2.99 USD. I’ve not had a sale on my books since they were published, so take advantage of this now.

Social Media for Crafters is designed to help the crafter and artist new to web publishing and the social web learn how to connect with the exciting and highly interactive social networks for any hobby, art form, or craft. It covers the core social media networks, blogging, and was recently updated to include Google+, Pinterest, and changes in the social media industry. As always, the ebook promotes WordPress as the blogging platform of choice.

Blogging Tips - book cover, copyright Lorelle VanFossenMy popular book, “Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging,” isn’t on sale, but continues to be available by mail in perfect bound form for USD $12.95 plus shipping. This book covers a wide variety of blogging and social media tips and techniques, focusing on WordPress, and still pertinent today. Written as a giant to do checklist, the book includes ways to promote your site and encourage interactivity. I’m working on the ebook version this summer and it should be out soon, fully updated, so jump now to get the original while it is still in print before it becomes virtual forever.

To buy either book, visit by Books page, and check out the list of books I recommend be in your library from some of the best bloggers in the industry.

I will be presenting two workshops at the Willamette Writers Conference on Sunday on social media and blogging, and speed blogging tips and techniques, helping writers learn how to blog faster and better, and get back to their writing and life. Attendees will be able to buy a specially printed version of the Social Media for Crafters book for USD $10, normally $15.

Please note that I’m also trying a new third-party PayPal service on WordPress.com. If it works, expect an article on the process soon. If it doesn’t, please use my contact form to let me know immediately. Thanks!


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Code Standards Project to Take WordPress Into the Future

WP Tavern reported recently that WordPress Developers are organizing a community initiative to standardize common post types, taxonomies and meta data. Led by Justin Tadlock, popular WordPress developer and author of Professional WordPress Plugin Development, the goals of the community project are to name these common parts of WordPress to create a more stable and portable nomenclature for WordPress.

Tadlock explains that standardization is critical not only to the future of WordPress development but essential to standardize WordPress Themes and Plugins.

However, I’d argue that a little common sense also goes a long way. If you’re making an “events” plugin, don’t name your post type justin_event. Name it event. This isn’t really brain surgery, and I don’t think the WordPress developer community needs that much hand-holding to figure this out. But, if we do, let’s start that Codex page.

The only reason for any type of standards for post type names is so that it helps foster healthy competition between various plugins trying to fill the same space. This is so users can more easily switch between plugins to find the one they like the best.

There are some against such standardization as they feel it would restrict their coding freedom and flexibility, naming things organically rather than meeting a set of required standards. Tadlock and others argue that by adopting existing solutions rather than in-house, custom built solutions, it doesn’t restrain creative coding or proprietary code. He defends his position saying:

Standards are created after we’ve made them and they’ve been adopted by enough people. In other words, we create standards by building good plugins, getting users to install them, and having theme authors integrate with them.

Standards are accepted adoption of a way of doing things or naming things. This is part of the evolution of a language and industry.

As we developed the WordPress Codex, Michael Adams led a community campaign to solidify the names of WordPress parts and pieces. He and I created the Codex articles for Administration Panels, which later was renamed to Administration Screens, an example of the evolution of naming standards. In spite of our attempts to comply with the trademark protection of the term “Dashboard” for the entire backend interface, the WordPress Administration Screens continue to be called the Dashboard. Wrong name, but an evolving name standard as it has been adopted by a majority of users. Read More »

How to Write an Editorial Article Online

For the Writing for the Web course at Clark College, I wrote an in depth article on “Web Writing: The Editorial Article.”

The article serves academic courses on the art of writing for the web, exploring the most common type of web published content found on blogs, the editorial article.

Web content represents traditional media content formats and styles, but editorial writing on the web is a modified version of the traditional editorial or op-ed format and style.

An op-ed piece is an opinion. It is distinguished from other articles in a magazine and newspaper as they may be well written but they do not represent the rules and guidelines required by journalists and reporters. The writers are typically not reports, nor educated in journalism.

An editorial article may be an opinion piece, but it is one that argues a specific point or perspective. On the web, an editorial article may be written by a reporter, journalist, professional writer, or anyone with a defensible opinion.

As I explain in the article, a web editorial article is backed by links to resources and references supporting each point in your argument. Traditional media didn’t have the ability to easily link, leaving the author to cite their supporting arguments with footnotes, end notes, and bibliographies.

Web articles are also written according to web standards, using HTML formatting styles such as blockquotes and proper citation links in compliance with Copyright Fair Use, links, multimedia, and shorter paragraphs broken up by a single thought, concept, or idea rather than a large block of text that conveys an entire concept.

The article on how to write an editorial article online includes a definition of the editorial article, examples of editorial articles that changed the world, editorial writing voice and persona, audience demographics and targeting, editorial styles and types, editorial article structure and formats, technical tips for web publishing, and examples of the problems many have with writing editorial articles online. It also includes a large reference and resource list for more information on editorial writing for the web and in general.


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WordPress I Course: Summer at Clark College

WordPress NewsMy WordPress I course at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, just across the river from Portland, Oregon, is open for registration for Summer Quarter 2014.

The course begins July 7, 2014, on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:30-9:30PM.

This is a five credit hour course, 50 hours of all WordPress basics in 8 weeks.

Pop Quiz for the WordPress introduction Class at Clark College with students answering the questions on the whiteboard - instructor Lorelle VanFossen.The size of the class is limited for an intimate, hands-on learning experience covering web publishing, core functionality of WordPress, basic WordPress Themes, and Plugins.

Registration is open for the public as well as students in a degree program at Clark. First-time registration at the college can take some time, so begin the process now. For more information on registration, see the Clark College Admissions information. The deadline for enrollment is June 20, so hurry to get one of the few seats available.

During the course, students will be working on 4-5sites including their own experimental site on WordPress.com, a self-hosted version of WordPress in a testing (sandbox) environment, the class magazine (multiple contributor WordPress site), and a final project site as a collaborative team project.

Here is a brief list of the things you will learn in the college course. Read More »

It’s About Access

If you have a few minutes today, watch this. Oh, watch it anyway. And share it.

It won a Webby, the equivalent of the Oscar for the web world. And I have to admit that at the end, I cried. Seriously.

Like those in the satirical episode, I don’t live in the wildest woolliest of backwoods. I could throw a rock over a hill and hit Intel and some of the largest tech companies in the world in the Silicon Forest, yet I’m stuck on crap Internet access with speeds at about 1 megabyte on a good day. Trust me, I live on the Internet and there are good days and bad when your Internet is running through a phone line, and that phone line isn’t very stable.

I’ve traveled to and lived in places where I would write my articles in a text editor for this site and wait days for access to the Internet and WordPress. Traveling on the road full-time since 1996, an acoustic coupler and 300 feet of phone cord was our earliest connection to the outside world. I have literally hung out a window and hold a WIFI antenna at the end of my out stretched hand in the pouring rain to pick up a signal somewhere on the block. That was downtown San Francisco only a few years ago, supposedly one of the first cities in the world to experiment with city-wide free Internet access, another of the great pipe dreams. Read More »

Russia’s Bloggers Under Attack

If you haven’t been paying attention to one of the largest countries in the world is persecuting bloggers. I’ve written up a summary in the ClarkWP Magazine site produced by my Clark College WordPress students, “The New Blogger’s Law in Russia.”

In December 2013, the Russian parliament passed a law to allow the blocking of sites “calling for unauthorized demonstrations” without court notification or approval.

While there were many protests nationally and internationally to prevent the new “blogger’s law” from passing, it passed the first week in May 2014.

The new law describes the term “blogger” for the first time: A person who posts open information on a personal page.

This is a literal translation that basically means a blogger is anyone publishing “open information” on a web page.

With more than 61 million online users in Russia, it’s growing online economy and industry is threatened by by such strict media rules and regulations.

The new rules outlined in the bill state the following, applicable to the so defined “bloggers:”

  • Any site with more than 3,000 visits a day qualifies.
  • Such a site must register.
  • Any site (and its domain name) may be cancelled if found to be “inciting violence, “extremist” activity, advocating overthrow of the government, activity in conflict with human dignity or religious beliefs.”
  • Any site found to be in compliance with the above has three days to take down content. Non-compliance and two additional warnings will result in the termination of the site.
  • Applicable site types include blogs and social media networks and channels.
  • Pseudonyms are not permitted. Site owners and contributors must publish with their surname, initials, and email address publicly displayed.
  • All articles must be fact-checked before publishing, confirm the accuracy of the information, and respect electoral law, among other laws similar to those required of journalists.
  • Bloggers are accountable when writing about individuals, organizations, or the government with the intent to “defame or libel.”
  • Bloggers are held responsible and libel for comments posted on their web pages.
  • Fines range from USD $280 to $850, with “legal entities” fined up to $8,500.
  • A hotline is being established to encourage citizens to report “illegal or harmful” online content.

We had a great discussion in my WordPress I class at the college about Russia’s Blogger Law and US and international laws impacting bloggers, as well as what WordPress does to protect its users. I thought I’d share some resources and information we found while doing research on the subject.

How Does Russia’s Blogger Law Impact You?

On the surface, it may appear that this law is restricted to Russia’s borders, but it isn’t. Many countries follow the example set by Russia. Let’s not forget that the United States is still under restrictions put in place after 9/11 with the creation of Homeland Security and the USA Patriot Act. We’ve seen the results of these actions in the news, especially with Snowden and others.

The US government passed the USA Patriot Act a few weeks after the events of September 11. The law brought changes to the laws regarding surveillance. It increased the government’s ability to look at citizen records held by third parties, conduct secret searches, collect foreign intelligence information, and spy on citizens under “tap and trace” searchers. Read More »

Clark College Students Want to Interview You

Students in my Clark College WordPress class are required to interview a WordPress professional and member of the WordPress Community as part of their assignments for our student managed site, ClarkWP Magazine.

Would you like to be an interview subject?

Here are the qualifications.

  1. You must use WordPress actively as part of your business. The article will be focused on the usage of WordPress in your business, not you or your business.
  2. You must work intimately with WordPress on your site or business, ready to answer questions about how WordPress works (or not) for your business.
  3. Understand that you may be the main subject of the interview, or one of many interviewed about a specific aspect or feature of WordPress.
  4. You must be willing to communicate with the student on their time schedule and to their best of the student’s ability to connect. They have deadlines. Students typically do email or social media interviews, though some are open to Skype, Google+ Hangouts, and phone interviews. Interview subjects living close to the Vancouver, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, areas may meet the student in person.

Students come up with their own ideas, questions, and process for the interview. While they do their best to represent you fairly, you will not have an opportunity to review the article before publishing, though you may contact them afterwards and ask for corrections.

ClarkWP Magazine student interview with Jeremy Wilson.

You will need to supply them with a photograph of yourself and links to your sites or examples of your work online.

The interviews begin the last three to four weeks of the academic quarter.

If you are a member of the WordPress Community and willing to help a college student interview you, your information will be added to a list. Students will choose an interview subject from that list. There are 16-25 students per class per quarter. Contact for an interview could be this quarter or a future one.

We started this project in Fall of 2014 and it has been an excellent experience for the students to network with members of the WordPress Community and learn more about how WordPress works. The published articles serve as homework assignments as well as credits on their resumes as published authors.

Past interview examples include:

If you are interested in helping students learn more about the WordPress Community, fill in the comment form below and describe your work with WordPress to help the students pick you. Make sure your email and main website is correct in the form fields. Do not publicly publish your email or contact information in the comment box.

Thanks!


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WordPress For Writers: WordPress Author Sites

In this part of my series on WordPress For Writers, I’ll cover the basic things to consider when using WordPress on site promoting the work of writers and authors. For more on the subject, see other articles in the WordPress for Writers and Authors series.

This article assumes you have some basic familiarity with WordPress and web publishing with websites. If you are new to WordPress, see my many WordPress Tips, Blogging, and Blog Exercises categories on Lorelle on WordPress, Learn WordPress, and the WordPress Codex.

In WordPress, there are two types of content “holders,” posts and Pages (with a capital P to differentiate from web pages with a lowercase p). Pages hold timeless information, and posts hold timely information. If you’ve ever worked on a magazine or newspaper, think of posts as articles and Pages as masthead information. Posts are sorted by categories and tags. Categories are the site’s table of contents. Tags are the index words.

That’s a quick overview of the main content references about WordPress.

WordPress Site Models for Writers

The three basic site models for WordPress are:

  1. Static Model
  2. Blog Model
  3. Integrated or Hybrid Model

The Site Model concept is based upon the design of the front page of the site and the arrangement of posts, Pages, categories and tags within WordPress known as site structure and organization. The navigation of the links to posts, Pages, categories, and tags defines the user experience and customer journey, literally the way the visitor uses the site to access the information they are seeking.

It begins with the front page for most web designers. Read More »

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