Upgrade to WordPress 3.0

Word Press 3.0 Is Here

The Information Sells upgrade to WordPress 3.0 seems to have gone smooth as silk.

If you are going to upgrade, here’s my advice (I assume your blog is already at WordPress 2.9.2 If you are at an earlier version – follow the steps below to upgrade to the current version, then upgrade to 3.0 Don’t jump from, say, WordPress 2.6 directly to WordPress 3.0):

1. Be sure all your plugins are compatible with 3.0 and upgrade to the most recent version of all your plugins before you upgrade.

2. Be sure your theme is compatible with WordPress 3.0 and upgrade to the most recent version of your theme before you do the WordPress upgrade

3. Back up everything. If you are an Amazon s3 subscriber, do a manual backup to S3 using the Automatic WordPress Plugin If you are not an S3 subscriber, try using the WP-DB-Backup plugin and the WordPress Backup plugin (yes – use both).

4. Disable all plugins. Theoretically, WordPress will go into maintenance mode and disable your plugins. Also theoretically, nothing will go wrong, so you don’t need to back up, either. Back up, then disable all plugins.

5. Upgrade. I use BlueHost and have never run into any trouble using the automatic core upgrade. If, however, you have found that on your web host, you cannot automatically upgrade plugins, that you must enter your FTP password everytime you want to download a theme, or anything else happens where you have to do a step or two more than WordPress’s default upgrade requires – then I’d suggest you do the manual upgrade instead of the automatic one.

And there you are – WordPress 3.0!

This upgrade has gotten a lot of attention, but you may find that the new features are pretty underwhelming for a regular user with a single blog. Anytime anyone has to use the word “taxonomy” to describe a feature, my eyelids begin to droop.

Many of the new features are improvements to “the core,” that is, the guts of WordPress. Their value will become more evident in future versions, where you will not have to tweak the code to get them to work.

So is it worthwhile to upgrade? Yes – there are very important security features included in this upgrade. You should always keep your WordPress installs up to date. Is it necessary to upgrade today? No – you can safely wait another week to make sure all your plugins and your theme are compatible. But this upgrade has been in the works for a long time and most developers have been keeping their software up-to-date, so you shouldn’t have a problem upgrading.

Learn To Build An Ecommece Site

A 3 Part Series Exclusively for Members of the Web Sellers’ Circle

If you’ve sold on eBay or Bonanzle, Amazon or Etsy for any time, you’ve probably wondered if you couldn’t make more money by also selling on your own web site. This short series will teach you how to build such a site – no matter your level of technical expertise. 

This 3 Part Series is an exclusive Web Sellers’ Circle Seminar. You must be a member to register.

Wednesday, March 24, 7:00 EDT; 4:00 PDT

This episode will cover the 5 tools you must have for an eStore

  • A PayPal account
  • A Domain Name
  • A Web Hosting Account
  • A Web Site Design
  • A Shopping Cart & Inventory

Where do you get them? How musch will it cost? How hard will it be?

Wednesday, March 31, 7:00 EDT; 4:00 PDT

This episode will get you beyond the bare essentials. We’ll cover optimizing your software for ease of use (for both you and your customers); SEO; Privacy Policies and Contact Forms.

Plus the most important Add-Ons and Plugins – where to find them and how to install them.

Wednesday, April 7, 7:00 EDT; 4:00 PDT

Finally, we’ll look at several shopping carts, both free and paid versions.

  • How do you integrate your payments with your cart?
  • How do you add inventory?
  • How many items do you need just to start?
  • How much does it cost?

If you are following along with the classes, when this series is done, you’ll have a fully functioning store online, ready to sell and accept payments. And you’ll have done it all yourself – like the enterprising bootstrapper you are. Congratulations!

Remember- these classes are a part of the Web Sellers Circle membership package. No charge to register if you are a member. All classes will also be recorded for posting on the site.

I hope to see you on Wed., March 24 (7 PM Eastern, 4 PM Pacific time)

Check here for information on how to register for the How To Build an Ecommerce Web Site class(es)

Find out more about Joining the Web Sellers Circle here  Huge savings on annual memberships now available.

How To Add A Fan Page to Facebook

You’ve heard the statistics by now:

  • If Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populous country in the world, behind only China and India
  • Facebook had over 40 Million users in January, 2010
  • Facebook users are glued to the site and spending more and more hours there every month (up 10% just from Dec to Jan)

Facebook is the Number 1 social media site by a wide margin. Yet it can be baffling to navigate.

It has grown so quickly, that the usability of many features lags far behind the demand for them.

Cindy Shebley of  The Web Sellers’ Circle, put together a short video to answer a question she received about how to add a fan page to your Facebook profile.

Take a look:

How to Extract Audio from a Flash Video

Although we all love watching video webinars, sometimes you just want to listen to the audio when you are away from your computer – maybe when you are driving or exercising or just relaxing outdoors.

You can’t add an FLV file to an MP3 player – but you can extract the audio from a webinar and convert the sound to an MP3 that can be played on an iPod or any other MP3 player.

This short video will show you how:

Shrink The Web


Small, Medium, and Large Size Images from Shrink The Web

Have you ever wanted to add a thumbnail picture of a web site to illustrate a post?

If you’ve tried, you know it can be difficult to make the picture small enough to fit your project while still keeping the image sharp enough to be identifiable.

That’s where the free tool, Shrink The Web, comes in.

Once you sign up, all you need to do is enter the URL of the site you want, choose the size of the image, place a line of code where you want the image, and – presto – your image will appear.

There are a few limitations to the free version. First, you can only do 5,000 screencaps per month (or 179 per day). That shouldn’t be much of a hardship for the average blogger. More annoying, however, is that free accounts can only snap the home page of any URL. For instance, since this blog isn’t the front page of the Ghost Leg site, I can’t use Shrink The Web to capture an image of the front page of Information Sells – I can only get the front page of Ghost Leg Media. (See the image in the right hand corner of this post.) The Pro version starts at $9.95 per month and can go up to several thousand dollars, depending on the features you want. For most of us, free will do just fine.

Easy, Cheap, Reliable – Amazon S3 and Amazon CloudFront

Amazon CloudFront

Trust Your Content to the Cloud

If you do anything on the web, sooner or later you are going to need a place to store files.

You may want to host photos for your eBay auctions without having to worry that the service you use will suddenly go out of business or raise prices. Or you may want to add video to a blog or web site without paying the overhead for streaming. Maybe your photo blog was frontpaged on Digg, and you are suddenly over your bandwidth limit.

Or maybe you just want to know you can grow without paying now for bandwidth you’ll need in the future.


With Amazon S3, you not only get unlimited storage and bandwidth – you only pay for what you use.

And it gets better still …

Until June, 2010, S3 is offering free data transfers in (i.e., uploads) up to 50 Terabytes. If you are just getting started, it will cost you nothing to add all you files, no matter how many or how large, to your S3 bucket (until you cross the 50 TB line).

Actual data transfer is charged at $0.15 per GB for the first 50 TB (it goes down from there). That equals 100 GB of bandwidth for $15.00 – with no overage charges, no server throttling, no demands that you move from shared to dedicated hosting.

And of course, you only pay for what you use. If you use 10 GB, you pay $1.50.

I don’t think there’s a better deal.

Pair Amazon S3 with Amazon CloudFront, and you have incredibly fast, distributed content for pennies.


What’s Distributed Content?

Instead of downloading directly from your S3 Bucket (whatever the physical location of its server) Amazon CloudFront calls the original content in your Amazon S3 bucket. CloudFront is a global network of what Amazon calls “Edge Servers.” When someone clicks on the link for one of your videos or a web page with your photos is loaded by someone’s browser, the Edge Server closest to the end user serves the content.

The result? Faster performance.

That’s pretty cool (although maybe not worth the added cost for small users), but what is truly amazing is the new streaming servers that have been added to CloudFront. These servers work with the RTMP protocol, offering  streaming video at a fraction of the usual cost and with no need for complicated set ups.


Most web video, especially on blogs and non-commercial web sites, is a type called “Progressive Download.” Before the video starts to play, a predetermined percentage of the video is downloaded to the user’s computer. As the video continues to play, more is downloaded.

If the download cannot keep up with the viewing, the user experiences “buffering.” The video pauses while it waits for more data to be transferred. The bottleneck can be on the viewer’s computer or on the web server, but the effect is the same: viewer frustration. In fact, one study suggests that 81% of viewers click away if a video stops to buffer.

By contrast, streaming video plays as it is downloaded.

Streaming has other advantages:

  1. Only the protion of the video that is actually viewed is downloaded. If a user clicks away 2 minutes into a 10 minute video, you won’t pay the transfer costs for the unwatched portion of that video.
  2. The video is never stored on the user’s computer for playback. This makes it harder to pirate the video.
  3. “Seek” is enabled by streaming. For instance, if I am watching a 25 minute video, and I know that the part I want starts at 22 minutes in, with streaming video I can pull the scrub bar to 22 minutes and immediately see the relevant portion of the video. With Progressive Download, I have to wait until 22 minutes of video have been downloaded. There is no “jumping ahead.”


Amazon S3 has a somewhat opaque interface. It is, in fact, downright difficult to work with.

Fortunately, the free S3 Fox for Firefox or Cloudberry S3 Explorer for Internet Explorer offer a familiar FTP like interface that make working with S3 a snap. Both also offer CloudFront integration.

The set up for all these services is a tad complicated. But the payoff, for you and your users, is well worth the effort.

A Simple Way To Automatically Add New Blog Posts to Your FaceBook Pages

I spend a fair amount of time writing blog posts, and I’d like to get as much mileage out of that content as possible. At the same time, I want to keep adding new content to my FaceBook Fan page… but there are only 24 hours in the day.

Something’s got to give.

Or does it?

How would you like to have a short excerpt from each new blog post added automatically to your FaceBook profile? There is a WordPress plugin called “WordBooker” that will do just that.

In this short tutorial, I’ll show you how to find the plugin, add it to your blog, and configure it so that FaceBook’s security settings allow it to write to your FaceBook page and WordPress allows Facebook comments to be automatically posted back to your blog.

It’s a great way to get new readers for your blog while adding fresh content to FaceBook.

This text will be replaced

After inatalling the plugin, if you receive the error message that Wordbooker lacks permission to publish to fan pages, use the following URL which will give you a dialogue box where you can grant permissions.


The Sale You Didn’t Know You Lost

a roll of money rests on a table

Are you leaving money on the table?

It’s bad enough when you know you lost a sale. At least then you can take whatever steps are necessary to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

But what about the sale you didn’t know you lost?

Must your customers jump through hoops before they reach your shopping cart? Do you offer them the payment choices they want instead of just the one that is convenient for you?

Is there a third party vendor standing between you and your customer who is costing you sales?

Consider this story:

I was ready to buy a piece of software for this blog. It is reasonably priced; it works as promised; and I can see lots of uses for it.

I wanted to buy it before the close of 2009, for tax purposes. I went to the developer’s site, credit card in hand, ready to click the buy button.

But PayPal got in the way.

PayPal will only let you pay by credit card if your PayPal account is empty. I was expecting a recurring fee to be charged to my PayPal account the next day, so there was a small balance.

I tried three different times to pay by credit card – but PayPal insisted on using the small amount in my PayPal account and charging the rest to my credit card. For reasons irrelevant to this discussion, I was neither willing to split the charge nor empty the account.

So the sale was lost.

You could say this was through no fault of the product developer – after all, it was PayPal’s policies that got in the way. But all the developer had to do was offer an alternative payment method, such as Google Check Out, to make the sale.

Don’t leave money on the table. Resolve that in 2010, your customers will never leave empty handed when you could have sold them exactly what they wanted.

Are Things Harder Than They Need To Be?

cannot see over the wall

Stopped By The Barrier

No matter how fast you run or how hard you work, when you run into a wall, you are stymied.

Sometimes you can only peer over the wall, wondering why everyone else seems to be getting ahead.

Sometimes you just bang your head into the wall until you give up.

The wrong tools turn a simple job into an endless chore.

Installing and updating WordPress should be insanely easy these days.

If your web hosting comapny makes it hard – find another web host.

Annual hosting plans from companies like BlueHost or HostGator offer everything from unlimited domain accounts to one click installs for applications like WordPress or Simple Machine Forums – for less than $100.00.

Your time is worth money – and saving $2.00 or $3.00 a month is no savings at all when your website doesn’t perform correctly.

Here’s a checklist. If you answer no to any of these questions, your life is harder than it needs to be.

  • Can you install the latest version of WordPress with a simple mouse click?
  • Can you update WordPress from within your blog with a single click?
  • Can you browse, install, and activate plugins and themes without ever leaving your Admin panel?
  • Can you keep your web site, plugins, and themes patched and up  to date easily?
  • Can you host multiple web sites and blogs, each with its own domain name, on a single account for less than $10.00 per month?

On the other hand, if you answer “Yes”  to these questions, your web site needs upgrading:

  • Are you charged over bandwidth limit fees?
  • Are you running out of space for video or audio files?
  • Do you have to enter an FTP password and configure FTP settings if you try to use WordPress’s plugin or theme updater?
  • Is updating plugins such a hassle that you are afraid to even try the new WordPress version upgrade?

I use and recommend BlueHost orHostGator (and I earn a small commision if you buy a plan after clicking on these links), but there are other good, inexpensive web hosts as well.

Any time you spend reviewing hosting options for the new year will be time well spent.

Don’t struggle with your site unnecessarily. Make it a New Year’s Resolution to spend your time creating content – not struggling with outdated service providers. Once you see how easy it can be, you’ll never agree to run an obstacle course again.

Photo by Giuseppe Bognanni Released under Creative Commons License