AdRotate Banner Flexibility!

One of the problems I had with AdRotate was that the widget form doesn’t allow for multiple widgets to show different groups of banners in a sidebar. (At the time of this writing.) At least, not using the WordPress admin panel.  But, after reading through the site I realized you can ad banners everywhere. No really…, everywhere!

Thinking about that I realized we can even add them to our headers, or better yet use it to replace the header image entirely! *shock*

Now one thing I’ve always wanted to do is to have my “skins” change for the seasons. More over the images (that would be an amazing plugin!) would change while the structure of the site remained the same. I’m sure this could be done by using a PHP script that changes a CSS document per a certain time period. But I’m not PHP wizard… yet.

But then I got to thinking, and that is a dangerous thing as I begin to experiment. I may not be able to use AdRotate that way straight out of the box, ( although with the new “timed” ads it -may- be possible to at least change the header per season, there is an experiment to do to be sure) but it can be hand-coded into the theme of the site. The Plugin’s support website offers a list of code snippets. You can even add individual or random rotating ads to a post or page, inside the post or page! It doesn’t have to stay inside the widget!

Amazing.

How so?  Easy!

First you’ll need to install the plugin. You can either do this by hand by downloading the plugin, or if you have WordPress 2.7 installed you can go into the Plugins Panel and do a search for banners, ads, adrotate, or other such words and look for it in the list. Installing it through the Plugins panel is a lot faster.

Now the next thing you may want to do, if you can, is add the \banners (<– note the ‘s’) folder to you wp-content folder. (wp-content\banners ~ don’t forget that ‘s’). This is where you can put all kinds of banners that you will want to use.  How ever, sadly, you cannot organize them into sub-folders in order to keep like-images together. You must label them in a way that you will be able to distinguish them.

What’s this do? AdRotate can attach images to the banner rotate code so you don’t have to type out a huge line of code. Not to mention you can -change- what the image is with a simple few clicks if you use the %image% inside of you image tag. (<img src=”%image”>) All you have to do is upload the images into the banners folder and then pick the image from the Banner Admin Panel.

Sweet.

Next you need to log into WordPress and add your banners and links. These can be affiliate links, or they can be general links, it doesn’t really matter.

Set up your groups first, this is done under the mainPlugins Panel under the Manage Banners link. Create groups to help keep yourself organized.

Then under the Posts Panel you can find the Write Banner link where you can start adding your banners!   So, next is to start adding banner code and images!

Under the Settings Panel is an option for AdRotate. This is the opt-in / opt-out to help the creator with determining how the plugin is being used and what the creator can fix it to be more beneficial. It’s a study, nothing more. But, you can opt to not have your specific information sent. None of the information is sold and may only be shared in a stsitical analysis. Make sure you set these settings to what you are most comfrotable. Me. I left myself opt’ed -in. ;)

Once this is done then you need to decide where your banners are going to go. Doing a quick design prior to this will help you get an idea of what it will look like. If the banners are too big, you’ll need to re-size them and re upload them. Far as I know AdRotate doesn’t re-size banners for you, you still have to do that by hand in general.

Each of the tags or PHP snippets goes into specific locations. The first number in the PHP code displays banners from a specific group, where the the second is the specific banner ID number. In the shortcode the group and banner numbers are a bit more obvious as you have to type them out.  You can find these group and banner ID numbers in the Manage Banner link in your main Plugins Panel.

Make sure you book mark the install list for future reference!

~

Side note: In the most recent update (as of this posting) the creator has added a CTR (Click Through Ratio) to give you and idea of how your banners are doing!

Suggestion: Donate to this man if you use this Plugin and make money from it. It’s such a powerful and useful plugin, even a dollar or two is a nice thank you. It’s kind of like tipping your waiter. ;) ~ Drakenhart

WordPress.tv? Yes! Video Tutorials Ahoy!

WordPress got wise, real wise. They’ve started to populate their new domain, WordPress.tv, with videos. This tickles me in ways I can barely begin to describe.

First: I’m a person who is very much supportive of people using the proper ending to their domains. The endings were created to help differentiate between content types. This way people would know from first glance just what the company is, does, and it’s intents.

  • .com –> Commercial Business (Drakenhart Studios.com is being held by a friend currently. Lost contact.)
  • .net –> Network (We are in our own way a network. Rather then just offer you our business end and sales pitch, we offer a form of community and continued service. Links to places that benefit our clients and viewers, and connections to our clients’ sites for people to check out!)
  • .org –> Organization, like the World Wild Life Fund or the Red Corss, etc.
  • .tv –> Television of other form of video media. (Thus WordPress.tv offering a site Full of helpful, online walkthroughs and tutorials. Bonus!)
  • .biz –> General Business
  • .us –> General Web Site located in the United States
  • .info –> Informational site, often like a wikipedia and the like.
  • .me –> No joke, this is a website that is about you.
  • .mobi –> Mobile phones. Yep.

And so forth…

Why else? Video Tutorials rock in my book! Reading a manual and jumping back and forth between pages, versus  actually seeing what is being describe are two very different ways of learning. “Visual” people learn best by watching or interacting. “Abstract” people learn best from reading or looking at diagrams. I am a visual leaner rather then an abstract-text learner. So watching the videos as they -show- me what to do is exceedingly more helpful then slogging through pages after pages of Codex – of which some of it is not up to date!

Down side / Up side: It is not a “community” per say. Only certain people are allowed to post videos, unlike YouTube. This means a greater quality. This also means slower wait times as they put up more and more specific tutorials. They have to put the basics up first!

Go check it out! :)

Reviews & Review Policies Overview

Welcome and thanks for stopping by to check out my site. Secondly I’m glad to see you are intrested in this little side service of Drakenhart Studios. We try only to promote services and resources we think are greatly beneficical to our viewers and clients. To do so we offer personal reviews, check out the product, site, or service, and act as a filter for the junk so that our viewers and clients don’t waste their time or money.

We prefer honesty and forthright opinions in our reviews, and do not like to sugar coat our dislike of something if a product or service isn’t what it claims. But we do strive to be professional about our reviews as much as possible to keep away from unwanted slander. In some cases the site mascot may insert her more vibrant opinions, but this if for comedic value only. ;)

The reviews themselves, if beneficial, can act as a form of advertisement. In some cases if we like a product, service, or site well enough we might choose to join their affiliate program. This is a bonus, for all concerned, and shows we truly do enjoy what has been offered!

Quality is key, and we only join and thus promote affiliate services we believe in and feel will help our clients and viewers! If the product, service, or site is not of a quality, that damages our reputation first and secondly will eventually reduce the in-flow of any affiliate monies. Neither is then beneficial to us, and it does not actually help our viewers and clients! What good is that?  The money is a bonus that helps us to earn more profit, yes. But they are not how-ever our primary service. (See Articles on running a business and why this is actually important!)

Our intent is to do honest business -as- we do our business, and thus to serve our clients’ and viewers best interests.

If someone feels they have a product, service, web site, or such that would truely and honestly help our viewers, clients, and others you may ask for a review. Be aware though that there is a difference between a polite request and spam. We do not tolerate spam, nor harrassing emails requesting reviews for products we have previously politely declined.

We only review services, sites, or products that offer our viewers and client’s useful help, information, or such – As it is related to our site’s content! Thank you for understanding.

Adding a Blog to Your Site.

General Overview

A lot of websites out there today are very static. They offer the viewer the general information about their product or niche market, offer a service, artwork commissions, or physical product(s) and then just leave it. Now, this isn’t to say a fully static site can’t be a good thing. For some people that’s all they need. But a static site for others isn’t enough for what they are trying to accomplish, so they indeed need more!

One way of giving your static site a bit more interest and interactivity is to add a blog to it. Some kind of journal, or perhaps a news feed to a journal to give your viewers something more to look at!

First thing’s first, you need to ask yourself – why am I doing this? Do you want to merely update the site and keep it’s content fresh? Do you want to share something of related content to your site? Perhaps you want to find a way to make a little bit of side-cash by blogging.

Why Add a Blog?

Some of the more marketing-savvy folks know they have to find ways to promote a site in order for it to deliver sales. A site alone will not bring in sales unless you are a known entity!

Traffic = Sales.

If you are doing this for more personal reasons, adding a blog gives the site a personal touch. You can even link to what ever online journal / blog you already have if you don’t want to integrate it into the site. But from a business perspective, try to make it related to your site’s content and keep posts generally centered around your art and/or services!

Either an on-site or off-site journal /blog keeps the site updated in ways that general adding to your “Gallery” or “Products” doesn’t offer. This keeps people sure that your site isn’t just sitting there gathering dust, and that there is in fact someone alive behind the scenes!

Added to that the bonus of site-traffic-draw. What better way to help drive site traffic then to add a small blog or other “news section” to a website? This keeps people informed, up to date, and enages a reader to be more then a reader. It thus allows them to comment, ask questions, and get responses from the site owner as well as other users.

Even if you use an .rss feeder to take your Livejournal, WordPress, Blogger, or other such online journals to feed into your site’s “news” section, you are still blogging! Linking directly to these sites also helps you to help yourself by increasing your reader subscriptions!

The ‘cons’ of blogs

Not all blogs get the same kind of attention. There are hundreds of thousands of them online, and many of them about art. So no matter how much you write or update, very few folks will see it unless you put forth more effort to get it seen. A blog / journal will help your web site, but the blog needs its own help. This is where you need to ask yourself that all important question again – Why am I doing this?

Blogs will get spammed by people who are not interested in your content. Just like email spam, postal spam, phone spam, forums spam, network spam, and more, you’ll get useless stuff that is trying to sell something many people are not interested in at all. This is not going to just go away, but there are things you can do to reduce it. [link tba]

Online journals will draw trolls only interested in trying to get your ire up, and thus ruining your reputation! Don’t fall for this. Always, always, act with professionalism and decorum. Don’t let the less mature and more aggressive types get the better of you.

Pros to Adding a Blog

First, writing about something you love to do is beneficial to your sense of self and inner self image. I don’t know about you, but talking to others about the things I love really gets me happy an excited. Then again I’m very much an extrovert in some ways!

Secondly, letting people know you’ve updated your site helps them to keep track of what’s going on.It keeps the site fresh, new-feeling, and let’s people know you are alive. It also lets people know what’s going on in your life, generally speaking, that is effecting your work, services, and products. If you share articles that are of related content, it helps them keep up to date with what’s going on in the world.

Sharing ideas, tutorials, insight, on the topics related to your site draws people of the same mind-set. Or, when posting these ideas, you might also post problems you’ve had with a particular medium, code snippet, or bit of design. People generally like to be helpful, so you may end up with a random critique, or a suggestion! Talk about useful!

Also, one of the key concepts of Web 2.0 is user interactivity. People want to know who you are! They want to talk with you! People with similar interests may even hang around and check out your site semi-regularly to see what you’ve posted!

If you blog about your art or products, you are promoting it! For Free!

A blog itself can become a money maker as well, and bring you in extra income. This is true whether you want to Blog for Money, or if you want to just share your thoughts.

Blogs can make money?

Yes. But! Yes the infamous “but”. There is a right way and a wrong way to do this.

The wrong way can hurt your search page rankings. This equals decreased traffic. Remember, traffic = sales! The wrong way can make you and your services look fake! This equals decreased sales. No sales, no money! The wrong way can cause others to blog about you, your site, and your blog in a bad way. This can hurt your reputation! In business one’s reputation is important not only to sales but to client trust. Client trust = repeated business. (Not to mention good Karma!)

The right way can bring you in small trickles of extra income from different sources. Don’t expect to make a LOT of money from just one source! That doesn’t always happen. The right way can offer your site more hits, or more interest from viewers. They see that you’ve tried something or are reviewing something, and want to know more themselves. If you’ve set things up the right way you can bring money in from those products! The right way may well give you and your site a bit more credibility and a better reputation!

An example of this can be found right here! We offer a blog as a tool for others’ education, as well as a site updater. Articles on related content, reviews of useful products, and more can be found here. We also offer articles on products that we do not produce ourselves, but as a rule we don’t blog about products that we don’t support in some way or form.

Drakenhart Studios doesn’t write reviews unless we’ve tried it, because that is what a “review” is.., you’ve seen it, read, it or tried it and then want to tell people about it!

So how to make money from your blog? That is another article entirely!
[link tba]

Ways to add a Blog to your site.

Keep an eye out for more detailed tutorials on various tricks and techniques on how to add a blog into your site. Below are a few short tips to get a blog into the site.

  • Off-site Journals / Blogs: Some of them offer <embed> codes so you can add your journal to your site. Be a ware not all of these codes are SEO compatible, as they use <iframe> tags.
  • .RSS feeds: This is a “cheat” in some ways, and some off-site journals / blogs won’t like it. But some online services (like Feedburner) offer you the ability to post your journals / blogs to your website.
  • On-site Blogs: Some CMS programs offer the ability to post threaded pages (ie. others can comment on them). Were as some Blogging software can be used as a CMS instead, yet still retains the ability to blog!
  • On-site Blogs: There are some online services that offer very basic blogs, or blog-like codes for free. These aren’t always 100% reliable or safe for sensitive data, but some are pretty good.

Generally some CMS programs offers you the chance to add .rss feeds or blogs directly to your site. Either of these is a good way to go, especially if the .rss feeds allows for comments from viewers!

How to Bring Attention to your Blog

Attention to your Blog brings attention to your site and thus your product! So how do you get your blog the attention it deserves?

There are several ways to go about it.

  • Get friends to link to your blog as well as site.
  • Don’t baddger random people you don’t know, even if their sites, blogs, or forums are of simialr content! That’s spam!
  • Ask politely to have people who have used your services to blog about you, your site, and blog! Testimonials are a wonder!
  • Check out the various online “help sites” like the ones we’ve listed here or written article about! [tba link]
  • Go to other blogs, sites, forums, and such community centers and put you site and blog link in your profile!
  • Some such communities have areas where you can self-promote by adding your site links, online Gallery links, other community links, and more. Make sure you use these!
  • Web 2.0 is really about community and the networking done within those communities. Go be a part of a community, help out, offer advice, be sociable! People will want to get to know you better! This creates traffic.

Final Comments

Online journals, blogs and others of the same type have cropped up in the last 10 years and people have jumped on it with a passion. Why? People like to communicate, talk, chat, etc, and journals have been part of our lives since we learned how to write as a species. Add those two together and you have a wonderful communication medium.

Add to that the ability of some journal-sites to promote community by allowing one the ability to post to communal blogs! Amazing! There is even the ability to share your content with other sites in a similar way that a cartoonist can share their artwork with different newspapers!

But it is a choice of the site owner, to blog or not to blog!

Designing a WordPress Theme (2.7)

Welcome viewers.

If you are like me, you’ve scoured the web for more information in a more concise and basic form. The WordPress Codex is great, but huge and bulky. Buying the next “how to” book may only leave you behind as the CMS upgrades over time.

So what I offer here is the most up to date listing of information, tutorials, links, reviews and pointers to try and help you along in your designing needs. WordPress may seem daunting, with all of it’s php code and not-quite stero-like instructions. But once it is broken down, yuo are good to go.

There are two paths that diverge from here. Basic Theme editing and more Advanced Theme editing. Basic Theme editing uses WordPress’ general settings, and some plugins. A slightly more techincal (Intermediate) aspect of Basic Theme editing  is using the WordPress internal editor and some knowledge of either php code or WordPress’s Template Tags. The Advanced Theme-styling requires a bit more boldness as you either convert a current theme to fit your needs by editing the php code, css files, and the templae tags, OR you start from scratch, using other themes as your reference point.

Choose your preference!

  • Basic Theme Styling.
  • Intermediate Theme Styling
  • Advanced Theme styling I
  • Advanced Theme styling II

*note* Updated as I am able. Keep this page bookmarked, or subscribe to my rss for site updates.