WordPress Membership Plugin WP-Members 2.8.6 Release Announcement

An update for the WordPress membership plugin WP-Members was released tonight.  This is the 2.8.6 release and it is a minor code update along with some minor changes to the stylesheets for the forms.

For a full description of update (and of course, more information on the plugin in general), see the release announcement at the plugin’s support site.

RocketGeek.com Rebuild on Genesis 2.0 Framework

With the launch of Genesis 2.0, I have been getting my hands dirty with the Genesis Framework.  I’ve always liked the framework, and I’ve owned it for quite some time; but I never really got in there and made full use of it.

After giving butlerblog.com a makeover with Genesis 2.0, I moved on to rocketgeek.com where all of the support goes on for WP-Members.

RocketGeek.com had launched in 2012 for supporting WP-Members and was built around Twitter Bootstrap.  At the time, I liked what I could do with Bootstrap, and since part of the site’s function is to show how flexible the WP-Members framework is, that gave me the opportunity to do some pretty cool things with the plugin framework.  To make these reproduceable for users of the plugin, these were all written up as example code on the site in the “How I Did It” category.

But there is always room for improvement.  With Genesis 2.0, I decided to get in there are give that site a makeover.  It is not fully complete, but the Phase 1 build is launched.  Go over to rocketgeek.com and take a look.  The site is running on Genesis 2.0 and WP-Members.

Here are some of the cool custom features that I did (and I’ll be adding these as new tutorials in the “How I Did It” category):

  • Unique login page makes use of the Genesis full width template so we don’t show two login forms (body and sidebar widget).  Also, this page uniquely styles the login form and adds some text for non-members inviting them to learn more about joining.
  • Now running the WP-Members with the Genesis Stylesheet Pack Add-on.  There will be additional stylesheet add-ons in the future, but I am still trying to get through plug-and-play stylesheets for the plugin to integrate with the various StudioPress child themes.  And as Brian Gardner continues to roll out new versions of the various child themes for the 2.0 Framework, that will likely keep things pretty busy over here.
  • Site continues to run with the WP-Members PayPal Subscription Add-on, which will be getting a major update after we roll out and test it on the site.
  • More to come!

There is still a lot to do for Phase 2, but I am excited about the project.  For those of you that liked the Bootstrap Tabs that I had done as an example on the old site, I’ll be doing another tabbed customization of the login/registration form combination as part of Phase 2.  The Bootstrap version was pretty tricky to implement.  I hope that this new one turns out to be an easier customization for general users to implement.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog Redux

I have reviewed Darren Rowse’s 31Days to Build a Better Blog (31DBBB) ebook before, but it is such a great resource, I am doing it again.  If you are looking for ways to better your blog, to increase your readership, this is a resource you need to have.  This is a dense resource full of material that remains relevant to today’s blogging.

Bloggers with an existing blog and perhaps an existing audience will be the ones to most benefit from this resource; improving your existing blog.  But that doesn’t mean you must fit that mold.  If you are just starting up, this will help get you started on the right track.  And for beginners and experienced bloggers alike, Darren also has Problogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging – which I also own a copy of, and may review in the future.  But getting back to the point…

A Well Defined Plan

This resource is full of good ideas to improve your writing, your traffic, and your readership.  It is so dense, you might be tempted to skip around and try different things right away.  I would encourage you to follow the outline of the book, which is outlined with material and exercises for each day – Day 1, Day 2, etc. for 31 days.

You will experience the best results if you follow the days as outlined with consistency.  Don’t jump around, and don’t skip days.  Commit to following the structure day by day.  That will return the best results.

An Ongoing Resource

You will find yourself returning to it later as a resource.  I personally have found that every once in awhile it makes sense to go through it again and it always gives me some new ideas.

Here is another usage suggestion:  instead of just reading the PDF, print it out.  I keep a printout with a binder clip that I have written copious notes in.  I come back to this in time and will add new notes, update old ones, maybe make new highlights.  It is an ongoing resource.

About Recommendations

In the spirit of full disclosure, I receive a referral fee when you purchase this book via my affiliate link.  I am not writing this post simply to generate affiliate income.  I truly believe this is a fantastic resource and that you will benefit from it (if indeed you are looking for success as a blogger).

There have been products that have been listed on this site before that I have removed because after testing and receiving feedback from readers, they did not turn out to do what was advertised (or didn’t do it well).  That is not the case with this book.  In fact, I purchased the original 31DBBB book even after seeing Darren’s posts from which it was developed.  Then, when he released a new updated edition, I upgraded (albeit at a discounted price offered presale for previous edition owners).

So, I have no problem saying that I personally recommend this book.  Whenever someone tells me they want to improve their blog or they are thinking of blogging, I recommend this resource.

Click here to visit ProBlogger and get the book

Get 31 Days to Build a Better Blog

Get 31 Days to Build a Better Blog

3 Core Concepts for Unending Writing Inspiration

You’ve cleared your schedule.  You have a fresh cup of coffee and a heart full of desire to churn out some great material.  You sit down at the computer.

But the screen is blank.

You came to the table without inspiration.  It is hard to produce quality work when you have nothing to write about.  Fostering good habits will help you produce a steady stream of writing inspiration for producing consistent material over time.  Any discussion you read about developing on-going inspiration and material will likely contain these three core concepts.

Read – A Lot

Almost any list you see about how to develop inspiration for writing will include reading as an exercise. Matthew Cheuvront writing on Copyblogger.com sums it up this way: More Books, Fewer Blogs.  The premise is that spending some time in a good book start to finish will give you enough material to generate many articles (and posts).  This is good advice.

Leo Babauta gives similar advice on the site Write To Done.  The post 31 Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Writing gives several variations of the “read books, not blogs” concept, but he includes blogs (and I do, too).

Keep Notes

I read a lot of books.  When reading, I always keep a pen and paper with me to jot down notes and ideas when I have them.  Trust me when I tell you that if you don’t write it down right away, you won’t remember it later.  And even if you do, it will not have the same wording as when it came to you the first time.

It becomes second nature to generate copious notes from reading a single book, and you will find much new material within those pages later.  From this material, you should be able to develop some writing inspiration – some new ideas to explore.

With my Kindle I can highlight and take notes in the book and then transfer those right not my computer.  I generate a lot of material this way, too.

Most writers will tell you that keeping some kind of journal handy is critical.  Get into the habit of keeping a notebook with you at all times in order to write ideas when they come.  You should be able to develop quite a stash of material for future use.

Go Old School

Notice I mentioned that I keep a pen and paper handy at all times?  I know I mentioned the Kindle, and keeping notes in the book on the device is great, but the old school pen and paper are even better.

And take some time to do this all away from the computer.  You will be surprised at what you can come up with when you are taking a stroll, sitting in a chair reading a book, or relaxing in a park. It clears your head to get away from the screen.  Let it lead to a flow of ideas.

I think just about every article, book, or blog post I have read about developing inspiration for writing includes keeping some kind of a free-form journal old school style.  Most writers I know keep a journal and use it regularly both writing in it and referring to it for ideas.

So what inspires you when you are sitting down to write?  What techniques are effective?

Site Review: Digging Into WordPress

Digging Into WordPress (DigWP.com) is a great site and resource for WordPress powerusers, theme developers, and plugin developers.  This is a blog by Chris Coyier and Jeff Starr that focuses on the finer points of fine tuning your use of WordPress with excellent (and well documented) tips and code snippets.

Both Chris and Jeff are WordPress veterans with several sites under their direct tutelage.  They both have been involved with WordPress as long as I have, taking us all the way back to 2005 (which seems like a long time ago).

Digging Into WordPress is set up to be full of useful information about tuning your WordPress site – code snippets, how-tos, widgets, design, and more.  It also serves to promote their book Digging Into WordPress.

10574-1259010890I personally own a copy of the book and I heartily recommend it for your library.  You can get a print version (currently sold out) or a PDF version.  The print version includes a copy of the PDF version, and both versions include lifetime updates – very nice plus.  You also get access to a few other extras including some exclusive themes.

The site is loaded with how-tos and code snippets, and both Chris and Jeff operate under a similar school of thought as I do, which includes the following:

  • Less is more
  • Do it the right way
  • Don’t do it with a bulky plugin when roll-your-own will be a better fit

A favorite post of mine is their tutorial on how to make WP’s Visual Editor actually WYSIWYG.  If you freelance and you do this for a client site, I guarantee they will be amazed!  Especially if they are already using WordPress.

If you want a good overview of their best articles, take a look at their Best of DigWP.com.  This has a list of their top posts for the last few years and should give you a good idea of what you can find on DigWP.com.

Whether you are looking to improve your self hosted WordPress site or you are a WordPress developer, there is going to be some good material for you on DigWP.com.  Check them out.