I’d like to conclude my WordPress Plugins for Writers series with a FREE! way to backup your site.
If you use Dropbox, you know that your first 2GB of backup storage are free. Many of you probably pay a pro version to get a lot more than that. If so, you’re paranoid like me and mistrustful of technology.
As described in their marketing materials: Dropbox is a file hosting service that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, and personal cloud services and access. The Dropbox client enables users to drop any file into a designated folder. The file is then automatically uploaded to Dropbox’s cloud-based service and made available to any other of the user’s computers and devices that also have the Dropbox client installed. Users may also upload files manually through the Dropbox web application.
I use the Backup to Dropbox Plugin to sync my site’s files to my Dropbox account once a week. I think it is worth giving you the caveat that I’ve never had to restore my site from backup. This is important because I can’t really tell you how good the plugin is at disaster recovery when disaster actually strikes. I just want to let you know, if you are paying for another solution, that there is a free tool out there.
That brings me to the end of the series. I hope I have shared at least one or two new tools that have excited you and helped you get the most out of your wordpress site. If you have any questions, please contact me.
It might be worth mentioning at this point an important fact about WordPress plugins. If you’ve been following this post series you might be getting excited and carried away by the many possibilities discussed. Keep in the back of your mind that plugins slow your site down. The more you have activated, the slower your site will run.
The reason is that each plugin consists of extra code that must run in order to render the page correctly. If you have twenty plugins activated, then twenty sets of code must run, each plugin demanding its round-robin piece of computation time to make sure it’s performing properly. Whenever you see a plugin advertising itself as “lightweight,” that’s tech speak for very little code, thus very little added load time.
Broken Link Checker
The Broken Link Checker is a great plugin that you can install and run periodically. It will search your site and check every link and report back to you any broken links that need to be repaired or removed.
As you know, it dents your credibility for a link on your site to come up with an error. External links are forgivable, since your reader knows you might have linked some content that has since disappeared through no fault of your own.
If there are any internal broken links, that makes you look much worse. Avoid them all by sweeping for them from time to time and fixing even very old posts. Per the caveat above, this is exactly the kind of plugin that is indispensable, but doesn’t have to be installed and activated 24/7 in order to work for you.
When I first tried to use WordPress, I didn’t get the concept. I’ve worked as a software developer and built my fair share of websites. So the whole “new page,” “new post” GUI made no sense to me.
To me, a “new page” was an empty notepad file and I got to build it from scratch. WordPress asks you to create content in this tiny little box within your page, while it “takes care of” all the functional parts of the site around your content.
This is called a “pass-through” redirect, and it is useful for folding special pages into your site without going through WordPress’s theme. The plugin offers other kinds of redirects as well.
External Link Checker
Every time you create a link in WordPress, there is a checkbox that says “open link in new tab.” SEO considerations aside, the rule of thumb is to open external links in a new tab so that your website stays open in the original tab, thus the user hasn’t truly yet left your site.
For your own internal links, you want the user to transition from page to page without annoying them with an explosion of new tabs each time. What This Amazing Plugin does is search through the hundreds of links on your blog and find any that violate this rule of thumb so that you can fix them.
The only problem is This Amazing Plugin does not exist. I’ve found dozens of plugins that, when activated, scan the page as the user loads it and make this change, but the change is not saved permanently. What I want is a plugin which, like the Broken Link Checker, I can install & run periodically to catch mishaps without having to leave it permanently activated. If you find such a plugin, or decide to make one on this inspiration, please contact me about it!
In order to use this plugin, it is a good idea to first implement the Media File Manager plugin from last week.
Let’s say you want to show a collection of photographs on your site, like a Facebook album. There are plugins that allow you to create galleries by selecting a group of images from a list. If you have many images, this can be cumbersome, and if you have to upload new versions of some of the images, you have to re-add them to the gallery.
The Folder Gallery Plugin allows you to create a gallery by pointing it to a folder. The gallery displays all the images in that folder. Here is an example of the plugin in action:
At the bottom of the linked page, you will see the images above lined up in neat rows and columns. To create the album, I simply uploaded all the images to a single directory using cPanel File Manager, and used a single line of code in the WordPress post to display them. Notice (below) how it’s simply the “foldergallery” short code with two parameters, and that’s it, dozens of images spill out of that one line!
The plugin takes care of the rest. Importantly, I didn’t even have to go through WordPress’s Media section in order to upload the photos.
However, if you want to make a gallery of photos already existing on your website, see last week’s post to learn how to consolidate a group of scattered files into a single directory.
This plugin also requires what it calls a “Gallery Engine.” This is just the necessary plugin that pulls up a lightbox when you click on each image. Though it’s too simplistic for me to write a separate post about it, I use the Easy Fancybox plugin for this.
I have to start this one with a caveat: there are pros and cons to creating your own web store. As an indie author, you may think it’s a good idea to sell your ebooks on your own website. Why not? Well…
It provides another revenue stream, besides Amazon & Smashwords &tc.
You get 100% royalties (less payment fees, see below).
You appear professional, with a high-tech site with a store and all.
You have total control over how to sell, market, present, price, and format.
You get to harvest emails from your purchases, unlike with third parties.
Read the fine print on your contract if you are with a small press publisher. Some may explicitly forbid you to sell the same content online, even if you own the copyright.
If you are enrolled in KDP Select, you may not sell on any other retailer, including on your own site.
Customers don’t always feel comfortable using shopping carts on sites they don’t know. Some will refuse to give a credit card on “yourawesomesite.com” and others may not even feel comfortable using Paypal.
The plugin I use processes payment using Paypal, which means you pay a fee on every transaction, (but usually the fee will be nothing compared to the lost royalties of other sites).
Okay, having said all that, of all the online store plugins I looked at, the one that made the most sense for me was the Easy Digital Downloads plugin. That’s how you can create store pages like this one. Notice the page I linked you to has a bunch of 99-cent items. If you want to see how the process works, feel free to “buy” a few free items from this store instead. All I’ve done is used the same plugin and listed items for $0.00.
To use this plugin, you’ll configure a few settings, then create new downloads. You will set the price and upload the file(s) the customer will be buying. For me, to avoid confusion, I let the customer buy three files for the price of one book: an epub, a mobi, and a pdf file. Since this plugin was created for photographers, musicians, authors, etc, it’s not specifically tailored for ebooks, so you’ll have to be a bit creative in terms of how you want to set it up.
That said, the biggest boon this has given me is information. If you have a “freebie” on your site, you are kind of flying blind on who downloaded it, right? Well, by using this plugin, you can create your freebie as a downloadable free “purchase.” Your fan/customer will click a buy button, it will ask for their email, and email them the freebie file.
The advantage of this approach is information. You now have your fan’s email (instructions later for how to auto-subscribe them to a mailing list), and you can track your downloads after a promotional. The disadvantage to keep in mind here is it does increase friction. That is, the more clicks, keystrokes, and decisions a customer has to make, the less likely they are to continue and to actually purchase your book, even if that purchase is free.
Bear all of this in mind before deciding whether to stick with KDP or attempting to set up your own shop.
NothingAnyGood.com is a book blog that provides authors and readers with book recommendations and book promotion while helping and supporting other indie authors.
NothingAnyGood.com provides authors opportunities for guest posts that provide writing tips, marketing advice, publishing information and more. We also provide author interviews and unique book marketing and advertising opportunities.
NothingAnyGood.com supports indie authors of all kinds. Guest contributors provide useful insight into their experience as an indie author and with the self-publishing publishing process. Here you will find countless articles providing important knowledge about writing, marketing, publishing and book promotion. We are a community of loving and supporting indie authors. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on being a featured author on NothingAnyGood.com or for advertising and marketing opportunities.
Welcome to my Book Blog! NothingAnyGood.com was Created to help Indie Authors with Writing Advice, Self-Publishing & Marketing Tips & More!