Murder Blog Is Moving – Yay!

Though I’m biting my nails to the quick, I’m very excited to announce that Murder Blog is moving to a self-hosted site. The new site, if all goes according to plan, will be the same domain: http://www.suecoletta.com. I’m adding the upgrade to redirect http://www.crimewriterblog.com to the new site too, so, God willing, I won’t lose all of you in the process.

Why am I chancing this right before Marred is set for pre-release?

Because I’m a glutton for punishment I want to do so many things that WordPress.com won’t allow. As many of you know, we’re at the mercy of WordPress.com to tell us what we can and cannot do.

That’s not okay with me anymore. Also, I can only go so far with WordPress.com. I’d need to add images to the sidebar to sell books, I can’t use a Hello Bar, or any HTML coding. With the move I can also get better SEO ratings because I’ll able to track what works and what doesn’t. The reasons are endless.

WordPress.com was my home for so long it’s still kind of sad to leave. But I’m a firm believer in looking forward, not back. In order for me to achieve my new goals I must make a change. So, I’m jumping in with both feet and hoping for the best (after hours and hours of research).

The only con that I can see is the ability to reblog, which you cannot do on WordPress.org. However, if anyone wishes to republish a post, contact me using my email or contact form, both of which can be found here.

In this post, as well as notifying you of the change I figured I’d share the new features in case anyone else is thinking of moving. If you are, here are simple step-by-step instructions on how to do it: Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.

The best part of moving to a self-hosted are plugins. Here’s a list of some of the ones I’m going to use and what they do:

Comment Luv

I love this plugin. It’s sharing to the fullest degree. If you’re not familiar with this plugin, I’ll explain. When you comment on a post a link will appear next to your name with your latest post. So if you have a new book release, a kickass post, or even just a recent post you’re especially proud of, come by and leave me a comment. All my readers will see your link and you could get new readers. How cool is that?

Shareaholic or Easy Social Share (haven’t decided yet)

I already have share buttons, but these plugins allow for sharing buttons on the sidebar, big or small, you have more flexibility and more options. Plus, you can track your shares. Very cool.

Dig Dig

Allows a floating share bar. Not sure if the others do as well. Need to research more.

Google Analytics by Yoast

This plugin tracks your site and gives lots of information about your stats.

Yoast SEO

I just took a webinar from Mary at Write to Done about using SEO to optimize posts for first page ranking on Google. Stay tuned for an eye-opening post about how to best optimize your posts. She recommended this plugin.

Akismet

Ban that spam!

Front End Editor

Checks for typos and grammatical errors. A must, in my book!

Copyright Proof

So no one can steal your content and post as their own. I’m really not worried about it, but I might as well include it.

Mail Chimp for WordPress

No brainer. It intergrades Mail Chimp with the site so I can use an actual opt-in box rather than the hassle of using an image and having readers click a million times to get to the sign-up page.

Mail Poet

This is cool. It will send you guys an email of my new posts and when I reply to your comments. Because I don’t think I’ll be in your readers anymore, I needed a way to reach you guys. You should have the option of choosing whether you receive a “digest” or “instant”. Digest would be a weekly roundup and instant is self-explanatory.

Facebook and Twitter Widgets

Post directly to FB from the site. Or add Facebook Feed to show your custom feed for your author page. There’s also a Facebook Like Box widget. Show your latest Twitter timeline.

Hello Bar

Instead of those annoying pop-ups a Hello Bar gives a call-to-action discreetly at the top of each post and page.

Social Media Widget

Posts automatically to all my social media sites.

Goodreads

This is really cool. You can ask your readers to add your book to their To-Read List, which raises your rank on Goodreads. All you authors want one of these, huh? Squee!

Subscribe to Comments

Allows non-followers to subscribe to comments so when I reply they’ll get a notification.

Easy Digital Download and WooCommerce

To sell books directly from site, with shopping cart, discount options, and user data. Turn your site into an online store on the sidebar. How cool is that?

Love It Pro

Because WordPress.org does not use “likes,” this plugin puts a tiny heart at the bottom of a post so you can “love it.” Awesomely adorable!

Jet Pack

This is a beast of a plugin with all kinds of features, including a social sharing. I need this in order to switch, but there are tons of other things to do with this plugin. I can hardly wait to see what they are.

WP Touch 3

To make your content mobile-friendly.

Super Cache

This plugin has more users than there are people in Costa Rico. Why? Because it streamlines your site for super fast uploading and allows you to use a static page, like I do now, turning your blog into a website as well.

Notification Bar

Because WordPress.org does not have one, I’ll have to install this plugin in order to see my notifications.

Contact Form 7

I get so many people using my contact form on the front page that I’d be remiss not to include one on my new site.

BackUp WordPress

This is really cool. You never know when problems can arise. So with this, you back up every time you publish and if anything goes wrong…voila. You’re up and running in minutes. Incidentally, you can get your backups emailed to you so they don’t take up space on your hard drive. Cool, right?

Uber Menu (premium feature)

This only costs $19., but I think it’s important to have. With this menu option you can create drop down menus, layered menus, all kinds of different menus to make navigation easy for your users.

Security Ninja

There are two. The Lite, which is free, and the regular. This protects your site from hackers. Very important. Wouldn’t you agree?

Pretty Pink Lite

This is cool, too. You know how bitly.com shortens links but turns them generic? Well, Pretty Pink allows you to customize short links for sharing, using your domain name, or anything else you want, and tracks that link wherever it goes. You can see how well a post is doing on Twitter, or any other SM site, by using this feature.

WP Google Fonts

No more paying for the custom fonts that have a limited supply and you can only use one font for certain things, like header, site title, post font. With WP Google Fonts you can choose from 600 fonts and use them wherever and whenever you want in your theme.

Font

And this free plugin allows you to change the font in portions of your posts and pages, and/or change the color too.

YARPP

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin allows readers to see related content, like you get with WordPress.com. I get many click-throughs to other posts this way, so I’d be remiss not to have this plugin.

Automattic (yup, two “t’s)

If you’re thinking of switching, you should add this plugin to ensure your WP site stays up-to-date and working properly. With one click you’re all set, and safe from hackers, too.

Plugin Performance Plugin

You can install 50 good plugins and if you install 1 bad one, your site will crawl to a stop. By utilizing this plugin, it will test your plugins to make sure they’re working for you instead of against.

There are so many other plugins that I haven’t listed here. Honestly, there’s a plugin for every need imaginable. If you’re thinking of switching to a self-hosted site, you need to be careful when choosing plugins. Like anything else, there are people looking to infect your site with malware, and they do it by offering free plugins. I’ve stuck to WordPress recommendations and ones I know others use and love.

So, I’m off to pack up and move. I’m told my site (this one) should not go down or become temporarily available while I’m implementing the switch.

Wish me luck and I’ll see you on the other side!

Power Of StumbleUpon & How-to Add Sharing Button To WordPress.com

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StumbleUpon drives massive traffic to websites and blogs. In a earlier post Brand Building On Social Media I discussed how to use StumbleUpon to your advantage, along with Twitter, FB, Google, Pinterest and Reddit. For those who haven’t read this post, as an author your brand is you, not your book. That’s your product.

The Power of StumbleUpon

Whenever I added a blog post to my “likes” on StumbleUpon, including my own, that site received a burst of traffic. But I had no idea how or why it worked.

Until recently.

To help illustrate my point I’m using an infographic from Column Five.

Stumbleupon-lifecycle-web-page-c5-1

As you can see StumbleUpon drives more traffic than Twitter, FB and Reddit — combined! This infographic shows that 51 pages per minute are added to StumbleUpon. Think about that a minute. That’s 3,060 pages per hour, 73,440 pages per day, 514,080 pages per week.

Now, as far as the infographic showing FB as the number two site… Sorry, I don’t buy that. But I’m guessing it’s because so many people on Twitter use bitly.com or something equivalent to shorten links. This, in turn, can skew the results. Regardless, Twitter will never surpass StumbleUpon. Ever.

This is why…

StumbleUpon is essentially a browser add-on, which adds a second menu bar that shows a thumbs up/thumbs down button, allowing you to “stumble upon” random sites geared toward your interests. Any post you give the “thumbs up” to is automatically added to your “Likes Page”. Your “likes” are built over time.

StumbleUpon isn’t simply a sharing site where you physically plug in a blog address. But you can certainly use it that way, too. What it does is it grabs other posts off the internet and suggests them to you. If you’ve tagged your post, or someone else’s post, properly StumbleUpon will suggest your site to everyone with similar interests. Which, in turn, drives huge traffic to your site that you wouldn’t normally receive.

Therein lies its power.

For instance, recently Nicholas Rossis wrote a very inspirational post (click link to read). I, then, added that post to my “likes” and tagged it “inspirational” “writing” and a few other things. Anyway, within one hour he received over 700 views. Why? Because I gave his post a “thumbs up”. Yes, it only takes ONE person to drive that kind of traffic. Now, imagine if two or three others also gave a “thumbs up”. His numbers would have been astronomical. Another example is my Q & A With A Real Undercover Operative – Part I. In less than an hour I had over 2000 views. Meaning, more than one person gave it a “thumbs up”. That three-part series garnered more views faster than anything else the previous year. Incidentally, if you missed this interview you can find Part II and Part III by clicking the links.

I’m always surprised by authors that don’t use this powerful site. I can only conclude that they don’t realize its inherent magic. Hence, my motivation for this post.

Still not convinced?

Let’s take a look at the life of a post. Herein referred to as a link. Because StumbleUpon grabs posts by “interests”, which is why proper tagging is so important — that’s a post for another day — it doesn’t matter if that post is one year old or three years old. See where I’m going with this? You got it. Your old posts are magically resurrected with StumbleUpon. Which is why I don’t shut comments off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a new comment on a six month old post, and often times that leads to a new subscriber. As a reader of blogs I find it frustrating to not be able to leave a comment when a post really resonates with me. This, of course, is up to you. But why not encourage communication regardless of date?

Here’s the next half of the infographic…

Stumbleupon-lifecycle-web-page-c5-2

With Twitter and Facebook the half-life of your link is only a couple of hours. Meaning, that’s how long it survives so others can share it. With StumbleUpon that same link lives on for 400 hours. And that’s only half the life. Take a moment to look at the life cycle of a link in the lower half of the above infograph. This is not to say that a link will die after 800 hours. As stated earlier, since you know to properly tag your posts your link can survive for years after it was first posted… with StumbleUpon.

Below is the last part of the same graphic…

Stumbleupon-lifecycle-web-page-c5-3

Nowadays people don’t spend much time reading blog posts. Instead, they skim. Personally, I still haven’t figured out how to do that. Anyway, StumbleUpon beats out Twitter and Facebook by 25%. Incidentally, that’s longer than the average web page view. A StumbleUpon session, where people are reading the “suggestions” lasts for over an hour. Where with Twitter and Facebook most people only spend a little over twenty minutes browsing links.

If you’re still not convinced of StumbleUpon’s power there isn’t much more I can say to change your mind. All I can suggest is try it. See for yourself what it does to your traffic and how many more page views you’ll receive. The proof will be in your stats.

Problem is, when WordPress.com changed our sites around again — the so-called “improvements” — we lost our StumbleUpon sharing button. After noticing a pattern I took a look at my own site and was absolutely shocked when I find it gone. This isn’t okay with me. And it shouldn’t be all right with you either.

Don’t fret. I have a solution.

Go to settings > sharing > available services

Available services is where it shows your sharing buttons. Only now you will no longer see StumbleUpon as an option. You’ll need to install it manually.

Click “Add a new service” and a pop-up window will appear. In the “Add sharing url” input: https://www.stumbleupon.com/submit?url= (and then choose your variable from those listed below) I use: %post_full_url% But you can play around and see what best fits your needs.

Like with most improvements in WordPress.com they tell you that you can add any variable to your sharing link. I tried them all. None of them worked by just adding the variable to the end of StumbleUpon’s url. You must include this: /submit?url= And then the variable. Without this formula you’ll either get an error message that says StumbleUpon can’t locate the page, or it violates the site in some way.

If it’s easier for you to just copy what I did the entire url looks like this:

https://www.stumbleupon.com/submit?url=%post_full_url%

In the box below (same window) it will ask for the icon image. Here’s where it got tricky because most sites want you to buy image icons. What I did was to Google “StumbleUpon Icon” click “image” and then copy and paste the image into my library. I then took the url for that image and pasted it into the “icon url” box. Voila!

Within that same window press “Save” Then drag your new StumbleUpon sharing button into “Enable Services” window and press “Save Settings” at the bottom of the page.

Since I wasn’t able to find a StumbleUpon icon image that fit the perimeters of WordPress.com, under “Button Style” I chose “icon and text” instead of my usual “icon only”, and then dragged less important buttons like “print” “email” “pocket” etc. into the shaded box of “Enable Services”. What that does is it adds a “More” button to your lineup that readers can press that will show the other sharing buttons you offer without taking up a lot of space.

And that’s the power of StumbleUpon. I hope this helps to increase your blog traffic and make you all hugely successful. If anyone finds a better icon image I’d love to hear about it. Also, if you use a self-hosted WordPress site I could probably help you figure out how to add sharing buttons. Just shoot me an email or fill out the contact form on the main page.

Want to take it for a test spin? Press the StumbleUpon sharing button at the bottom of this post and give me a “thumbs up”. Tell me in the comments, leave a link to your post (once you add the button) and I’ll do the same for you. And isn’t that what the writing community is all about, helping one another?

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