How to Install SumoMe on a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog

SumoMe provides a useful set of tools to help with a number of audience building activities within your blog. Installing the plugin on your WordPress dashboard, then activating some of the key features will stand you in a good stead.

How to Install SumoMe on a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog

Step 1: Login to your WordPress Admin.

Step 2: Head to the Plugins section on the left hand side

DashboardPlugins

Step 3: Click “Add New”

Step 4: In the Search field (top right), type in SumoMe

PluginsSearch

Step 5: Click on the SumoMe “Install Now” button

SumoMeInstall

Step 6: Activate the Plugin post installation (note, if the installation failed, check your settings)

ActivatePluginSM

Step 7: Follow SumoMe’s setup link

SumoMePluginSetup

Step 8: Register your Email Address/Password (step not shown)

Step 9: Follow the mini-tutorial to get your feet wet (this will take you through List Builder setup)

Note: Many of the more useful functions are set under the “Pro” features so be aware of this as you set up the apps you want to use.

SumoMePluginDashboard

At this stage you can play as much as you want but I will now include step to setup “Share” and “Highlighter”. Depending on how much friction you want to generate with your readers, you can also use “List Builder” and “Door Mat”.

Shares Setup

Shares allows your audience to share your article with the wider social world. Another benefit is that you can use the weight of number strategy to encourage the audience further.

Note: Showing the number of Social Shares is visible as a default. This option can be deactivated.

Step 10: Set up Share by clicking on the “Share” button

ShareSetup1

Step 11: Press the “Activate” button.

ShareSetup2

Step 11A: Choose the “free” option if presented to the far left (step not shown)

Step 12: In the settings tab to the left adjust your required social media accounts as suits. These are simply dragged between the Available and Selected Services fields by clicking and dragging.

ShareSetup3

Step 12A: If you have more than 6 services, adjust the option to change the number shown.

Step 12B: Click “Save” in the bottom right when happy.

Step 13: Go to the “Layout” tab

Step 13A: Set up Share Buttons Placement. Click on the location you want the share button to appear. You can select more than one location. Ensure you have a good share placement on your mobile screen as well.

Tip: The middle most position on the right and left of the screen will follow the article down to the bottom as the reader scrolls down the page. If you hover over each location, the dialogue box will tell you where the location is situated (if it is not obvious).

Step 13B: Press “Save” in bottom right

ShareSetup4

Step 14: Go to Services Tab

Step 14A: Enter your Twitter username

Tip: this is quite important as it will append the @blogprefect (in my case) to the share.

Step 14B: Press “Save” in bottom right

ShareSetup5

Step 15: Shares is now set up. To return to the apps screen, press the ‘X’ button in the top right

Note: You can toggle this app on or off simply by hovering over the app in the SumoMe Dashboard and clicking the toggle. Grey/Gray is off, Green is on.

AppActivationToggle

FYI: I think SumoMe has a Taco fetish.

Step 15A: Click the X button in the top right to return to the SumoMe app dashboard.

Highlighter Setup

Step 16: Click on “Highlighter”

Step 16A: Activate the App (as with Step 11)

HighlighterApp

Step 17: Enter your Twitter Username (you don’t need to add the @ sign)

HighlighterSetup

Step 18: Press “Save” in the bottom right

Step 19: Press the “X” button in the top right

Step 20: Highlighter is ready to use!

 

In Closing

There is much more you can set up from the apps list. Many of the items will require the “Pro” version to have full functionality.

I found a problem with the Contact Forms which has meant that I can’t use it at the moment. My issue is that the text entry boxes have resized to unusual dimensions and the overall box is squeezed to minimum dimensions which is less than useful. I suspect this is my theme/CSS setup rather than the box itself so I’ll have to have a tweak under the hood.

I will be evaluating the plugin over the next 3 months to determine if it is worthwhile using going forwards.

Contact me at headboy [at] blogprefect [dot] com, via Twitter or via Google+. Feel free to comment and share to your heart’s content!

 

Recommendations

Preview the changes before settling on your placement. Allow the audience to get used to the features before fine tuning!

 

Image Credits

Featured image edited by Jackson Davies, SumoMe logo copyright of SumoMe. Sumo wrestler and Taco image from Pixabay.com

All images with the SumoMe logo or SumoMe content are copyright of SumoMe and have been used for illustrative purposes only.

Why I Chose FastMail Over Google Apps

Blogprefect has always been lacking dedicated email services. One particular criticism I have for BlueHost is their frugal offering in this regard. I went in search of an email provider who could hand my needs in the best possible way.

This will only benefit you if;

  • you have a self hosted website and need to use emails with your domain, e.g. Joe@JoeBloggs.Biz
  • plan to use a paid email service rather than the numerous free options available

Why I Chose FastMail Over Google Apps

Affiliate note:

Throughout BlogPrefect’s history I have remained neutral by not introducing advertising or being in the pocket of any corporation.

This article contains an affiliate link. By clicking on this link you are under no personal obligation. I have recommended this service through a positive response from using it myself. To be transparent my view may engender bias. In order to provide balance, an alternative option is available to view on my blogging friend’s website; Ahmad Imran at ReasonToUse.com. There are other alternatives out there for you to find.

I’ve decided to offer an affiliate link on this service for two reasons:-

  1. Bloggers need a dedicated email service if the host provider does not provide one. Email is essential for networking and social activity. Many hosts provide a basic email system but it can be difficult to setup and work effectively.
  2. I wish to try and supplement some of the running costs of BlogPrefect.com. These costs have been increasing over time. By clicking the link and signing up for services you provide me with aid in providing you content. I appreciate this form of contribution.

Note: A trial version is available.

 

What is FastMail?

It is a mail service provider. If you are familiar with Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail, you’ll know exactly what it is and what it does.

FastMail1

Why is FastMail Different?

  • There is no clutter from advertising.
  • The look is cleaner and sharper and does exactly what it says on the tin.
  • This system is silky smooth.
  • Fastmail is fast.

 

How I Use FastMail

I specifically wanted a secure way of viewing all of my emails including those from my domains. I  have started the steady process of moving the email I want to FastMail.

The major benefit of using this system is using my domain’s email!

 

It Isn’t All Plain Sailing

Note: there is some tech-speak in this run through. If you are not familiar with the back-end of your hosting service and are afraid of code don’t worry!

Disclaimer/Words of Caution: Before amending your DNS MX records ensure you have recorded the original settings in case you make a mistake and need to reverse changes made. When coding, it is always wise to make a backup/restore point where the system was working, prior to making changes (it will be difficult to steady the horse after it has bolted). FastMail and your Host may indicate that the changes made in these records are “highly visible” and should be conducted out of peak viewing hours. The change will take time and you may have further work to do if the changes made were unsuccessful. Whilst the information supplied by FastMail’s help section is comprehensive, it doesn’t address specific Domain Hosts and their unique settings. If in doubt, don’t carry out.

 

Nameservers

I decided to leave my “Nameservers” where they were and simply point my MX records to FastMail.

FastMail provide their own domain hosting but I didn’t want to switch.

MX Records Via the DNS (Host Side)

The MX records are a little tricky to set up if you are a novice.

I will be creating a guide for BlueHost users on how to change your settings. There are other useful guides for other hosts.

The change took a while and I had to make sure I was typing in the right code for my DNS. You get to your DNS records via the Cpanel.

MX record amendment requires one element to be edited and a new element to be added.

Domain Security: DKIM & SPF (Host Side)

In addition to setting up the “name-engine” portions of the MX records (Host Side), you have to set up a DKIM Signing Key and an SPF record.

The DKIM signing key is to prevent other email recipients from being spammed by your email. Consider it a wax seal on the envelope. The SPF record helps in a similar way for the IMAP protocol. These records are added as txt instructions. In BlueHost’s case an SPF record was already present so I modified it with FastMail’s details.

Most of this is copy and paste. Simple stuff. A few dropdowns and you get the right detail.

Confirmation

I left the system to switch over night. BlueHost indicated that it would promulgate the changes in 4 hours.

After aligning all the cogs, FastMail sent a confirmation message to say that my Domain was ready to rock. All I had to do next was setup my aliases.

Alias Must Haves (FastMail Side)

Two aliases that you should have at the start are abuse and postmaster. You can then go crazy on the aliases. Obvious choices are;

  • First Name
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Support
  • Inquiries
  • Ideas

 

Give FastMail a Spin

I’ve rattled on about this service but ultimately the proof is in the pudding. Why don’t you give it a try? You get a limited account for 1 month to try out the system and see if you like it. $40USD a year isn’t bad in my book.

>>>>C L I C K  M E<<<<

In Closing

This is only a very brief view of FastMail so far. I’ve only just started using it and in order to give a rounded opinion I’ll be returning in 3 months time to let you know more on my thoughts about the system.

I am looking forward to writing a more detailed guide mentioned above for BlueHost users on how to set up your records. It is super easy when you know what you are doing. At a later date I’ll also make a guide for subdomains.

In the meantime, please feel free to share this, make a comment or get in contact with me. I am now even more available through headboy [at] blogprefect [dot] com and via Twitter.

 

Image Credit:

Featured Image derived from FastMail.com, used for Illustrative purposes. The FastMail logo is copyright of FastMail Pty Ltd.

Ebay: The obvious way to make money online

Before entering into this article grand scale, I’d like to point out that most of my observations are taken from my personal experience. I live in the UK which works slightly differently to the US but there are many principles that are the same.

Ebay: The obvious way to make money online

Ebay: The obvious way to make money online

Tips:

  • Know the value of what you are selling
  • Take a good picture
  • Make the description as in depth as possible

 

If selling second hand:

Research similar items by watching auctions:

If your item is common, you can gauge based on what you’ve included with your item such as additional power cables, cases and so on.

 

Clauses you should use to protect yourself:

“Sold as seen” and “Used” are two important terms you should write in your advert. This prevents unnecessary comeback.

 

Why in particular it is important to write “Used”:

My colleague sold a fully stocked tool chest 2nd hand on Ebay but didn’t indicate that the tool chest was used. He therefore lost the claim and was forced to pay the buyer an undisclosed fee and await a return of the heavy item incurring a second fee of postage and packing. On top of that he received a negative rating (which can really dent buyer confidence).

You should indicate all damage.

If the item has some particularly fierce scuffs or cracks that aren’t visible in the photo or that are prominent and reduce the value of the item, note them. This is because often a buyer will think about whether they are likely to sell this item on, or need it as part of a project and so will be able to determine its full value.

I have sold many mobile phones (because 2nd hand phones sell really well) and it is worth noting all scratches, dinks, cracks and scrapes. I was able to pick up a brand new Ipod touch (in 2008) with a substantial discount because it had a noticeable crack on the screen. I still use this to this day.

Many buyers look to buy items to cannibalize or sell on as piece parts, especially with electronics which leads me neatly onto:

 

Selling Broken

You can sell non-functional items. Just make sure you are detailed in what isn’t working. Often there are ladies and gents looking for certain parts of the item to cannibalize but they’ll only bother if that particular element is included and can be reused. Be prepared to answer a few questions from the buyers because they may be after something specific.

 

Buy it now versus Auction

If you have a definitive value you want the item to sell for and know that if you sell it at that price, you will in turn receive a profit, sell buy it now. It is a good way to move your product quickly. You’ll need to have met the minimum criteria to be allowed to use the Buy it now function in your sale.

The straight auction allows a bidding war to occur, should the item be popular. Be prepared for the opening bids to be low. The disadvantage with auctions are that by their very nature they take longer to conclude but you could stand to make more than a buy it now auction if the item you are selling is unique or rare.

You can use a Buy it now in conjunction with a best offer to encourage a sale in a respectable area of money. This can be a good tactic in high value items over £100 ($160) because a potential buyer might need an incentive and making an offer gives the buyer a perceived sense of bargaining power.

 

Setting a reserve

If you need to hit a certain amount of acceptable profit to make selling the item worth your while sending, set a reserve. For items of low value it is better not to set a reserve but I would recommend this for higher value items.

 

Ebay terms of service and closing the auction early

You may get pressed to end the auction early by an eager buyer. You should not do this as it breaks with the terms of service. Once an auction is committed you are honour bound to conclude unless there is a major problem with the item you are selling.

Be aware that anybody trying to purchase outside the auction could be fraudulent. This individual could be selling a similar item and tries to close you out to put some warmth on their auction. There are a number of games afoot so be wary.

 

What do I mean by major problem?

Some items such as stuffed birds and big cats (panthers, tigers etc.), new ivory and other animal based goods are prohibited for sale due to them promoting the trade in illegal poaching. There are other prohibited items that you should not put on sale including firearms, offensive weapons and stolen goods.

On some occasions If a buyer points out that you can’t sell a certain item because it won’t work (like a video game without the activation key) then you need to either check with Ebay staff or make the executive decision and pull the auction.

 

Postage sting

Watch out for the postage sting. In the UK specifically there are certain ways you can get caught out by Royal Mail or couriers and can get yourself into hot water with the buyers.

It is important to get the total right, it is okay to overpay but it is not good to underpay. Your buyer will have to take a trip to the post office depot to recover the item with a penalty charge which is best avoided. I made this mistake on two items and one of the buyers viewed this very dimly.

There are a number of third party couriers you can go with but you are likely to get some complaint from some buyers if they are the types of courier who are decidedly useless at delivering during sensible times or put items in useless places. Larger items are often cheaper to sell with the buyer coming to pick them up in person.

Make sure your items are well wrapped, especially if fragile. You may also want to indicate if an item is to be carried a certain way up or handled with care. Stickers can be bought to make this job quicker.

Retaining old boxes, jiffy bags, newspaper and bubble wrap is a way of keeping costs down. I find shoe boxes to be the most effective.

If you can’t get a box that fits, use brown paper to wrap the object or alternatively if you are concerned about the item getting wet, use a plastic mailing bag (especially useful for awkward shapes).

 

Any more tips to share, you know where to stick them!

 

The Disqus Commenting Embargo has been lifted

I have been vocal in the past about being an anti Disqus individual and in my humblest step down I have to admit that it isn’t that bad. I’ve signed up to the comment system (but haven’t full scale rolled it out on my site (and am unlikely too)) but I have it now to make comment on other people’s grand works.

But there is another reason I’ve signed up to Disqus (evil grin)….

The Disqus Commenting Embargo has been lifted

DISQUS - 10th August 2014

 

Backlinks

 

As many of you are aware (or should be aware) backlinks provide excellent traffic and as long as they are above board (not on dodgy sites or sites with black flags) you’ll be okay. Disqus, unlike the WordPress comments, allows images to be put in the comments (which can be cool) and comes with a better system of managing your Avatar than Gravatar. Basically, your mugshot. I notice that trillions of people can’t be bothered with a basic mugshot but you’d be surprised what you are missing out on by not putting a face to the name. Gravatar makes you jump through a number of hoops to get your image square but Disqus is more streamlined on that front so it gets a bonus point from me.

There are some other benefits to Disqus in that you always know when your comment got approved, when it got responded to and whether it has been upvoted or not (Reddit fans will know about this scheme). WordPress and other systems of comment aren’t quite as involved and I always think it is nice to know when your comment got featured.

 

The evil grin comes in the shape and form of Smart Passive Income

Something I didn’t report on as a post (but wish I had) was a day where I had commented on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income and someone had been to my blog and viewed 75 posts. Yes, 75 posts. I called that day the “Pune effect” because the individual originated from Pune in India. If I have any bizarre spikes in future, they will be put down to the same phenomenon, the mysterious Pune effect.

AplacecalledPune

Pune-tang

For my statistics and for my readership a day like that is awesome, during that time it accounted for 33% of that month’s views. It is interesting where one person has been motivated enough to go through that many posts. Now, this individual could have been topic/content poaching, and I’ve been guilty of that myself but it all counts. It means that what I’ve been doing has been worthy to poach so that gives me recognition that my work is good.

As a blogger you need that boost because you aren’t just writing this for yourself, what you produce is meant to be for others.

I want to re-engage with Pat’s content and he has provided Disqus as the method. I think everybody who is a blogger, can get some warmth, by posting a comment or two on Pat’s site.

 

Returning to my misgivings of Disqus

Part of my misgivings of the system was that it added another password wall to commenting, I found that somewhat annoying, and boycotted it completely. It is the reason why I won’t add the system to my site. I reached a tipping point where I had to swallow my pride and my rigid rebellion against the system and cave in. And boy, I wish I’d done so sooner.

I still stand in my principal that it won’t get added to my comment zone but I will now contribute if I see it on other people’s sites.

 

What’s my beef about password walls?

I don’t want to make my audience jump through hoops to get a message to me. It takes courage sometimes to write a comment and some people pour in some time in order to convey their thoughts. Often those thoughts spur me into other directions and point out areas I’ve missed or were poorly implemented. All that information is useful and welcome.

 

Resistance in general

I have a bit of a history to resistance of certain useful systems. I resisted Twitter entirely until last year when I got going with blogging. I wished I had got into that sooner because there were so many lessons I needed to have learnt.

I had a pop at SEOClerks and then back tracked and actually used a service from the place. Egg on my face.

Often this resistance comes through fear of the unknown. We are anxious about how it is going to turn out so refuse to try on that basis. This is an example of an irrational fear, one that causes paralysis.

This resistance can come from other people and their clouded experiences. Often we might try to seek some view from others that this system is okay and often people are more vocal about negatives than positives so we are clouded by how they’ve been badly affected in situations that may no longer be valid.

A personal example is outlined below:

I receive satellite television from Sky where I currently live. I love it, plain and simple. Yeah Murdoch and all that jazz, yeah monopoly, yeah captive audience. But the service was brilliant when the installer came around. I have broadband through the same provider. I receive brilliant service and am unlimited in the true definition of unlimited (of course there is a fair usage policy in there but you’d have to seriously caning it to use that much). I was initially skeptical of Sky, why? My parents had tried to get this installed before and it had been so much trouble that they had to abandon the purchase and go with “FreeSat” instead (a free satellite service that basically required my parents to buy a dish, buy some coax cable, buy a decoder box and borrow a satellite signal tuner from a geeky friend at work who’d done the very same). The reason behind the Sky fiasco was a matter of distance from the ground. Because my parents have quite a tall roof it was above the short ladder height that the engineers were prepared to install at, health and safety apparently.

You can see how one bad experience can taint your decision-making process when that problem was not a problem when you came to do it.

 

Word from the Headboy

Try things out, especially if they are free. You can always cancel or disassociate yourself with the system if it really isn’t working out. Do be careful how much you commit to something, if it digs deep into your system and is “invasive” think twice.

For the areas that are of most value to you, treat them with care. In my view, comments are golden, so make sure you preserve the quality in what you decide to play with. WordPress self-hosted comments are forever, Disqus could fold (like companies can do) and your comments disappear with them.

Try to see beyond the nay saying and see if the system is a best fit for you. We don’t always know how to do everything straight off the bat, we have to bed in a little, sink our heels into it. Nobody expects you to be a first try hero, the creators of such systems try to make them as easy to use as possible but you still might not be a great fit with what the system is trying to do.