Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Welcome to the first Tips Tuesday for 2019!! I’m your host MaAnna.
This is a special edition with a peek into my crystal ball and what I believe will empower you as a DIY site owner and bring you success in the coming year.
Listen to the Podcast
Tips Tuesday Live Party
And I do hope you’ll join me for our live chat at 3pm ET / 12pm PT for the party and an interactive Tips Tuesday recap and breaking news discussion on the BlogAid Facebook Page.
This past week I’ve been on fire with Gutenberg training and research. More on that in a moment.
All sales end Jan 4 for big discounts on:
- Site Audits
- Webmaster Training
- DIY SEO course
And we start our SEO workshops on Jan 10, so now is THE best time to get in.
If you’re already in the course, look for an email later this week with our first workshop info.
Watch for Surveys Coming Soon
I’ve got all kinds of new programs coming for you on BlogAid in 2019.
And to ensure I’m on the right track for what you need, I’ll be sending out several surveys this week and next.
You may get more than one, depending on what group or email list your in, so please do open and reply to all of them.
I promise they will be short.
And I’ll likely be doing livestreams to share the results with you too.
This weekend I was thrilled to publish my first post on the Heartwood Art Creations site in 4 years!!
There’s still a LOT to be done with changing over that site to bring everything up to speed with what’s in the sidebar, the optin, the authorbox, plus a new logo and design, along with changing over to Gutenberg with that site.
But, I’m changing the tires while the car flies down the road!
If I waited for everything to be perfect first, I would never get it done.
So, I’m just diving in and I hope you’ll follow my journey and projects there as I go.
On BlogAid, I’ll be blogging about what it takes to turn a hobby site into a money maker, so watch for those posts here.
WP 5 / Gutenberg Workshop Extended
For those of you in the workshop, I’ve extended availability of the tutorials to Jan 7. But that will be the final cutoff date.
I also published a bonus tutorial with more things for you to check. So be sure to go see that.
I’m Convinced Gutenberg is the Way to Go
From taking Morten’s Gutenberg course, and doing a deeper dive into more possibilities with it, I am absolutely convinced this is the way forward for WP site owners.
Several folks in the workshop are delighted with Gutenberg too!!
This past week I also got a peek into what’s coming with Genesis, and it’s very exciting!!!
They are, as I predicted, going to leapfrog WP making Gute a full theme builder.
And, as I predicted, Genesis’ new parent company, WPEngine’s acquisition of Array Themes and the Atomic Block set that came with it, will be incorporated into Genesis.
I checked into the Atomic Block set, but honestly, I can’t see much with it that you can’t do directly in Gutenberg now or with just a single other block plugin compared to loading a whole set.
Keep in mind that those early block creators were all making up for what Gutenberg lacked in the early days.
So, I’ll continue to delve into what’s right around the corner for us on this front and I’ll keep you posted.
For now, I’m not changing the theme on the woodworking site, as I believe everything about Genesis on Gute is about to make a major shift and I want to test that first.
Site Revamp Service and Training
From brief chats with my Webmasters, who are mostly designers, and feedback from site owners in the Gute workshop, it’s apparent that most folks using Genesis now have themes that support most all they want to do with Gute.
My designers are telling me that it’s not hard or expensive to add that additional Gute support.
And, they’ve also let me know that if you are using one of the themes that Genesis recently updated to be fully Gute compliant, you don’t want to update to it, as it will wipe out all of your current customizations.
It would be better to have your current theme manually updated for those additional Gute elements.
And, from the feedback of those in the workshop who are using theme builders currently, they are chomping at the bit to ditch them and move over to Genesis right now.
So, this week I’m meeting with a few designers to chat about opening a new site revamp service to help folks make the switch to Genesis and/or check their theme for full Gutenberg support.
I’ll be putting the foundation together for that service immediately.
But, I won’t be offering it until we see what’s involved with these next big changes with Genesis.
I had predicted that it would be closer to 2020 before we would be switching to Gute.
But with the major advances Genesis has made since coming under the WPEngine umbrella, I’m now thinking as early as spring.
And, I’m thinking it will be cheaper and easier for current Genesis theme users than ever.
I still can’t see a way to create a profitable, standing Gutenberg course.
So, I think doing limited time workshops for it on a regular basis is the way to go.
Those will be far less expensive to do and maintain, meaning even more savings for you!!
I LOVE the TinyMCE Advanced plugin and I am so happy that we can still use it with Gutenberg!!!
Be sure to see my post on how to set it up with both the Classic Editor and the Gute Block Editor, as everything has changed with the settings. You want to ensure its right for you now.
And if you’re currently using the Classic Editor plugin, you won’t need that if you switch to the TinyMCE Advanced way of doing it, which is what I’m doing on my sites.
All versions of PHP from 7.0 and down have zero support as of Dec 31, 2018.
If you have not done so yet, be sure to read Why You Must Upgrade to PHP 7.1 or Higher Before 2019.
It has all the links you need to get it done, including a link to fix most issues with PHP 7.2 if that is the highest level available to you.
But if those don’t work, you can stick to PHP 7.1 for now.
FYI, I spoke with A2 Hosting and they should be rolling out PHP 7.3 in the very near future.
SiteGround made it available already, and honestly, I think they jumped the gun with that, as it wasn’t fully stable at the time they released it.
Also, if you’re on a VPS account, you will need to ask for higher levels of PHP to be installed by the host. VPS accounts are run lean and they don’t install any more than what is required.
So, if you have only PHP 7.1 available, stay there until PHP 7.3 rolls out, and then ask for that to be installed.
Google recently updated their reCAPTCHA service to version 3.
If you integrated it with Contact Form 7, then you’ll need to re-register your site and get new API keys.
I’ve made a super quick and easy tutorial on how to do that.
For the most part, our contact forms are still working, but I have heard from site owners who are not getting their emails. So, do check yours and make this quick switch. Will take you about 5 minutes.
FYI, my Site Audit Plus Clients are the ones who alerted me about this issue, and they were the first ones to get the fix too. It takes a village and we all help one another.
Site Success Tips for Empowered Site Owners in 2019
Okay, that’s the news, let’s take a peek into my crystal ball for what I believe will help empower you to be a successful DIY site owner in the coming year.
Sites are technical things.
For years I’ve heard folks say that they don’t have time to deal with the tech end of their site and they just let their host take care of anything that pops up.
Or, they don’t want to learn how to build a car, they just want to drive it.
Here’s your wakeup call on that.
Do you get the oil changed on your car?
Do you get your HVAC serviced regularly?
Do you pay someone to do those things for you?
Would you ask your car mechanic to fix your home air conditioner?
The tech side of your site needs periodic maintenance beyond just updating plugins.
Ask any of my site audit clients about all the eye-opening things they learned in their 20-30 page report and 2 hour live chat to go over it in non-geek speak about what was killing their site speed and chewing up all their hosting resources.
And then ask them about how much money they paid folks, who didn’t know what they were doing with it, or how much their host actually made things worse or missed stuff all together because the host doesn’t know WordPress, they know hosting.
Place a Value on Site Tech Education
If you don’t have time to learn about your site, then put a dollar amount on that time and value the expertise of folks who do know all about site security, speed, HTTPS, and more.
If you’re not paying at least $80-$100/mo for managed WP hosting, then consider paying that much for independent site maintenance. And I mean the real stuff.
If you’re paying a designer for that now, have them take a look at my Webmaster Training and see how much of it they don’t know.
I’ve seen folks pay $150/mo for someone to maintain their sites who can’t even get through what’s in Level 1 of that training.
You are being cheated and they are running an irresponsible business.
You could spend a fraction of any of that and do site maintenance yourself.
Ask any of my non-geek clients how easy it is once someone just explains it to you in plain English.
And it’s crazy cheap to hire someone for the host side, super techie things that are one-offs, like all the stuff we fix after an audit.
And there is no price on the peace of mind it gives you either.
I’ve also heard site owners say they’ve never had a problem.
That’s because they’ve never looked.
My clients make more money after an audit.
Stop suffering from what you don’t know that you don’t know.
Getting caught by surprise by the latest site changes is not only costly, it can throw your whole life into chaos.
It’s not fun to do things in a panic, especially when you are uncertain about what you are doing, and even more especially when you are trying to do it from incomplete instructions you pieced together from who knows who.
It takes only 15 minutes a week to stop that cycle.
Tips Tuesday keeps you ahead of the curve with what’s coming so you can plan for it.
You’ll know what to do and when.
Besides all of the free info and tutorials I give on BlogAid for these changes, my Site Audit Plus Clients get deeper instruction on our private Facebook group and member site. And those resources are free to them too.
Same with my Webmasters. We have a Facebook group that is a goldmine of help. We even hire each other for specialty tasks that are out of our wheelhouse.
Get a Solid Backup
This is your last, and most important safety net.
If you ever need to restore your site, you’ll be in a panic.
The ONLY thing that is going to give you peace of mind at that moment is to know that you are positive you have a solid backup and that you have every file you need.
READ: Backup Checklist to ensure you’re getting everything.
I have witnessed firsthand the heartbreak of folks losing their entire site due to not having a solid backup.
Don’t let that be you.
Watch Your PHP Level
This is something we’ve never had to concern ourselves with much until the last year or so.
I’ve been jumping up and down about it for 2 years now.
And this will be something you have to keep your eye on from now until forever.
And no, it’s not the host’s responsibility to do for you, not even on managed WP hosts.
PHP is the coding language of WordPress and your plugins and your theme.
It is constantly being developed.
That means the version is always changing.
The current highest version is 7.3.
You MUST upgrade to at least 7.1 right away, as support for any versions lower than that were dropped as of Dec 31, 2018.
READ: Why you must switch to PHP 7.1 or higher for more on how to do that. I have tutorials and everything to help make it easy for you.
My eyes were opened at WordCamp US 2017 to the future of what the web will become in just a few short years. It won’t be limited to a screen. Voice search and Virtual Reality are quickly gaining momentum.
Our sites and our content have to change to stay current and hit the waves as they come in.
I believe Gutenberg is the way forward with WordPress.
It may have taken 2 years to get to this point of incorporating a new page editor into the core.
But, this development train is rolling fast and we’re already seeing rapid changes to plugins, and especially to themes.
Last year I predicted that it would be closer to 2020 before most of us would be making that switch.
But, the pace of development in just the last two months of 2018 has convinced me that jumping on the Gutenberg train by this summer will be the way to go.
As you heard in BlogAid Happenings, I’m already laying the foundation to make it easy for all of us, including me, to make this switch sooner rather than later.
Gutenberg and Themes
As you also heard previously, I’m keeping extremely close watch on current developments with Genesis and Gutenberg.
I strongly believe that Genesis will remain the top theme framework in the world, and with their coming moves, may very well put to bed most other theme builders.
If the nail wasn’t already in the coffin for theme builders with the promise of what Gutenberg will allow us to do soon, I think what’s going on with Genesis may do it even sooner than expected.
I believe this so strongly that I’m betting my future business on it by creating the courses and workshops and offerings I mentioned earlier.
I see a record number of site owners leaving their theme and page builders in the dust this year and into 2020.
Designers and Gutenberg
If you’re a designer, especially one that relies exclusively on theme builders to deliver low-cost alternatives for your clients, this is your wake up call.
I would strongly suggest that you learn everything you can about Gutenberg and how to design for it, including making custom blocks for themes.
I would also strongly suggest that you don’t continue to rely exclusively on current theme builders, no matter how they are trying to incorporate Gutenberg now. I believe those builders will not be around in the next 5 years.
Smart designers are learning Genesis and/or other non-theme builder frameworks.
Designers and Site Tech
Another way designers can hedge their bets and diversify their offers to ensure they don’t go down with the theme builder boats is to learn site tech for speed and security.
Savvy site owners are going to be passing up on just design firms and going for all-inclusive agencies.
And let me tell you from my own change of client demographic, the 45 and under site owner group is savvy.
That’s where the new business is.
They have a super sensitive BS meter and they do their homework.
They are not buying into all the older gurus who are saying you don’t need to know any site tech to have a site.
Learn and Do SEO to Diversify Income
The younger site owners are also willing to try new things and to diversify their traffic streams from every source possible.
That includes organic reach on SEO.
2018 was the year I finally heard folks big on Pinterest start to get serious about not relying on that rollercoaster of algorithm changes to supply their entire traffic stream, and thus bet their entire income on it.
Whenever you are creating a post, you are already handling every element needed to create good SEO.
You just need to know how to do that, step-by-step.
And that’s what I teach in the DIY SEO course.
We start by laying a solid SEO foundation and not with keyword research. Doing that the other way is not only 5 years out of date, but it can’t possibly work well. That’s a Pinterest way of doing it, not a Google way.
Plus, we dive into how to gather feedback from more than analytics to help ensure you get found in search instead of playing a guessing game with it.
Better User Experience
I’m on Pinterest a lot these days, mainly for recipes and woodcraft ideas.
Every site I go to looks the same, and has the same ads on it.
And they load so slowly!!!
Or, they disrupt my enjoyment of the content with junk ads that have zero relevance to the site, like putting an elevator in my house. Really? Who does that? And what does that have to do with the content? Nothing!!!
Foodie sites are the worst.
I’ve learned to scroll past 10 pictures of the same thing and blathering, meaningless content as fast as the slow loading site will let me just to get to the recipe at the end.
None of that is a good user experience.
If I don’t leave the site right away over it being so slow to load, I’m certainly not going to waste time on irrelevant ads.
I’m not going to sign up for a newsletter I don’t want.
I’m not going to even leave a comment.
I’m just going to leave.
That’s not how you build tribe and repeat viewers.
That’s how you work yourself to death to get 10,000 new visitors a month.
That’s working too hard.
Younger site owners are taking a different approach.
They don’t want a cookie cutter site.
They want something that builds an engaged audience that returns to the site over and over and stays on it longer.
They want a tribe that interacts with each other in comments and on social media.
The food, craft, DIY niches are so insanely crowded now.
Doing things differently could be the way you get noticed.
How about trying a few of these tips:
- Show me your family loving the thing you cooked
- Do photo journalism and tell a story with your pictures
- Stop including so many huge images that never get pinned so your site loads faster
- Break up the project into multiple posts, again which tells a story and lets you go deeper into each step
- Create a compilation post at the end of the project that gives a holistic view and a bunch of internal links pointing back to each step with details. That’s great for SEO too!
If you have an established blog, it’s time to break the cookie cutter mold.
It’s time to get real feedback on what’s working and what’s not.
It’s time to drop what no longer serves and that frees you up to try new things.
What are your site plans for 2019?
What do you plan to do differently?
What will you be ditching?
What will you be adding?
What is THE thing you’re going to get serious about this year?
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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