Planning Sweepstakes – Any Advice?

prize

A few months ago SBI’s superstar Elad made an interesting interview (available here) where he actually revealed the secret of his traffic. Well, he might have many other secrets – Elad is obviously a very clever guy, but still he revealed enough.

prizeThe interview was made to promote SBI!, however if you watch his interview and listen carefully, you’ll realize his success has nothing to do with SBI! Well of course, that’s how he started, but then he discovered his own unique way to success which he shared in that video.

Doubting? His new printables website is not hosted by SBI! In addition, it appears he transferred some of his old websites away from SBI!. I am not saying this to take another chance to pick on SBI! I don’t really hate them, although I didn’t like to be there. Here’s the proof – today they are going to make another interview with one successful lady and I am going to watch. I like new ideas! This post is not another SBI! scam or legit post. I don’t want to be dragged into that. It’s about traffic generation.

Elad nailed it – contest, prizes, particularly cash prizes are the key to driving traffic. John Chow does it all the time. It must be the way. I am tired of my petty dependence on Google. I want to break free. I decided to run sweepstakes with cash prizes. No, guys, not here. Not yet 🙂

I am really new to this. Does anyone have any constructive advice? Any useful links? Any warnings (laws for example)? Any suggestions will be very much appreciated.

Edited to add:
just found something useful http://www.savingforsomeday.com/blog-law-is-your-giveaway-legal/

How to Transfer Your SBI! Domain Management to Another Registrar

cow for Tucows

Okay… Hopefully you followed one of my three tutorials on here, here or here and are already hosted by someone good. The dust has settled, everything is great and all what’s left is to transfer your domain to another registrar.

Important Don’t do this a day before your domain expires. Leave yourself enough time to do this, preferably a month. If your SBI! subscription expires before your domain does (which might happen if you are on monthly renewal), then please contact SBI! support and ask them specifically how much time you have to transfer your domain management to another registrar. For those who are on yearly renewal the domain expiry date and SBI! subscription date are usually same.
TIP: registering your domain for more than one year is considered minor quality signal for Google rankings because low-quality or spam sites rarely get registered for more than one year. If you want to take an advantage of that register for a few years in advance.

Keeping your name, telephone and address publicly available is another quality signal. So, if you don’t mind for that info to be publicly available, do not pay for WhoIs privacy. It is often checked by default so you will need to uncheck it in your shopping cart.

Where to register your domain

It’s wise to keep your domain management and hosting separate. You don’t want to allow one company to have complete control over your web properties. Never again! In addition, if you ever decide to move to another web hosting company for whatever reason, it’s much easier and faster to do if your domain is registered somewhere else.

Now almost every host will offer you domain registration and even domain registrars will offer you hosting… Are you following me? Just checking 😉 This makes a perfect business sense for them and it doesn’t mean they are trying to cheat you. However, you should do what’s in your best interests and in this case it’s to keep these two things separate. So don’t listen to them!

I love, love, LOVE my host, but I am not going to give them control over my domain. Instead, I am going to move to Name.com. I like their support and clear clutter-free interface. And then they have such a fantastic name – Name.com!

You can do your own research on registrars. I believe it won’t be much different, but in this tutorial I am going to work specifically with Name.com. I will include screenshots and everything I possibly can to make things easier for you.

SBI! Part

cow for TucowsIt looks like SBI! registers all its domains in Tucows. Who could think that all this web business thing is more like a zoo! Pandas, penguins, turtles, cows, monkeys and alligators – like it or not, you have to deal with them all. Just like that cow on Tucows homepage said, we are going to “mooooove” to another registrar! Here is how, step by step…

Step 1: Unlock your domain

First of all you need to make sure your domain is unlocked. We unlocked it before when we were transferring our website files to new host. If not much time passed and you didn’t ask SBI! to lock your domain again your domain is probably still unlocked. You can make sure by searching for your domain at WhoIs. If it says Client Transfer Prohibited, your domain is locked and you need to contact SBI! and ask them to unlock it. You should include following information for them to unlock it:

  • original order number when you purchased SBI!
  • last four numbers of credit card you used
  • your IP address as it appears here

You should also make sure that

  • contact email address at WhoIs is NOT on your domain (it’s not something like you(at)your-domain.com. Use your gmail or yahoo for this.),
  • your domain privacy settings are disabled, i.e. you have your name and contact details publicly available on WhoIs page.

If you need to correct your email address or disable your domain privacy you should fix it now at build.sitesell.com/manage.html. Forgot your password? Search your emails, like I described here.

SBI! will unlock your domain, however you need this updated information appear in WhoIs database. So wait until you will see this next to your domain (under Registration): domain ulocked in whois database When you see registrar status “OK” instead of “Domain Transfer Prohibited” you know you are ready. Usually it takes about a day to update.

Step 2: Get EPP Code (Auth Code)

The instructions for getting Auth Code or EPP will be sent to you by SBI! once you hint you want to move. I will explain it here once again in my own words and include screenshots. So go to http://manage.opensrs.net/domain managementEnter your domain, username and password (the one you got from SBI’s email when you ordered the package). Once you are in, click on Domain Extras… auth code and get that code!

Your New Registrar

Step 3: Initiate transfer

There are many good registrars, but I personally chose Name.com. If you choose another registrar things might be slightly different, but the idea is the same. So go to Name.com (or other registrar of your choice) and create an account. At Name.com you can also enter default payment option so you don’t have to get distracted when you are doing something important like transferring your domain. Then click on domain transfer button… Name.com domain transfer Enter your domain (no www.) and Auth Code you just got from cows… Name.com interface for domain transfer Decide whether or not you want to order domain privacy (that is to hide your name from public view at WhoIs). At Name.com it’s checked by default. It costs a little more than $3 per year. If you don’t need it make sure to uncheck it… domain privacy Name.com Without privacy it costed me $8.25 for transfer and entire year of registration. Click checkout… order complete Name.com Now go back to your account at Name.com. First click on Account Settings (to the right) then big blue button that says “Edit Default Name Servers”. change default name servers Name.com You will see that you have default Name’s name servers which you don’t need and should be deleted. You need to MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU ENTER YOUR ALREADY FUNCTIONAL NAME SERVERS on your host. Triple check that you don’t make any mistake. Here is an example how it should look like if you were hosted by A Small Orange.

A Small Orange name servers

Step 4: Confirm your decision

Go check your email. If you are moving to Name.com you will find two emails in your inbox. One is to confirm your order, the second one is to approve your transfer. emails from Name.com domain transfer Open the one that says “Name.com Notices – USERNAME: Recent transfer(s) APPROVE TRANSFERS” and click on the last link in that email (just before their closing “Much love” 😉 Your domain registrar actually loves you. How cool is that?) Much love email from Name.com It will take you to this page where you will click on Approve Transfers button… approve transfers name.com If you check your account and click on View Registrar Transfers (to the right) you will see this: transfer in progress It tells you that domain transfer is in progress, everything is progressing smoothly, they contacted the losing registrar (the one with cows) and if they do nothing the transfer will be accomplished automatically within 5 days. If cows bother to answer things will happen much quicker.

Step 5: Confirm once again

About 10 hours later I received an email from someone called “Transfer” with subject “Transfer away request has been received for the domain mydomain.com” – that’s right, that must be cows. There will be link in that email, which takes you to a page where you can either confirm or reject this transfer request. sbi confirm domain transfer Check the box next to approve transfer and have some rest.

Step 6: Lock your domain

After a few hours I received another loving email from Name.com with the subject “Name.com Notices – USERNAME: Recent transfer(s) SUCCESSFUL”. If you sign in to your Name.com account you will see that your domain now appears under domain list. domain transferred Name.com Here you can set automatic renewals if you wish or enable domain privacy if you change your mind. However, this is not as important as locking your domain. Click on your domain name. You will see this: domain unlocked Click on that little lock to lock your domain. You will get this: domain locked name.com You are done! Congratulations!

You can go now and say goodbye to everyone in SBI! forums, print everything you want to keep for future reference. Your keyword list would be a good example. SBI! tells you you won’t have access to their tools as soon as you change your name servers, but at least in my experience that’s not what happens. You have access to their forums, tools, including their precious Brainstormer, TNT and pretty much anything you want until about 2-3 days after DOMAIN transfer. I lost access to SiteCentral after a few days I transferred my domain to Name.com. I still have access to forums although I don’t know how long it will continue.

IMPORTANT: DON’T FORGET TO CANCEL YOUR SBI! ACCOUNT You actually have to send one last email to SBI! support and cancel your account otherwise they will automatically bill you for next year (or month).

I hope you found this useful. If you have any questions, corrections, tips please post in forums. Keep in touch. It’s not fun to be alone. I am starting a new thread where you can post corrections and/or additional tips to this tutorial. Perhaps you chose another registrar and would like to share how you did it or maybe you know a better and easier way of doing things. Please share! You can do so here.

I will be posting tips on WordPress and other stuff you might find useful, so don’t forget my little blog. If you have anything specific you want to know about let me know and I will see if I can help :D. Good luck!

How to Convert a Static Website to WordPress, Part 3

wordpress logo blue

This is part 3 of the tutorial. If you didn’t watch or read Part 1 and Part 2 you can do it here:

Part 1
Part 2

Here is video version of this tutorial. However, there is a few important points in text version below.

First of all, the default WordPress theme doesn’t look very good the way it is out of the box. You have several options:

  • you can customize the default theme to something you can live with (not a very bad option, because WordPress default themes are supposed to be the safest themes out there);
  • you can install one of thousands free themes available right from your dashboard or on the web (pay attention to users’ ratings in this case and always keep your theme updated);
  • you can buy a professionally built theme.

I believe it’s best to use either one of three default WordPress themes (you must be able to customize it to something acceptable) or get a premium theme from places like ThemeForest. If you are just starting out and feel overwhelmed with the amount of information, stick to default themes for a while. Later you will know your way around WordPress and will enjoy playing with your design. For now all what matters is that things are done correctly. When it comes to default themes blank twenty twelve theme seems to work best for most precisely because it’s blank. Here is the demo. Once again, you can upload header which will appear over menu and you can change background color.

I am still going to show you how to change your theme using one of free options we have available right from the dashboard. Go to Appearance –> Themes –> Install Themes. You can search by keyword, color, background options and column number. The search system isn’t perfect but I am confident you’ll be able to find something suitable. Enter your criteria and hit “Find Themes” below. You will get something like this:

free wordpress themes

Many of these themes can look good, but click for Details to see users ratings. Never take something with less than four stars – you have too many options to settle for less than perfect theme. Once you found what you like click Install Now and then click Activate. Refresh your homepage and you will see your new theme. Usually it won’t look like in demo, because it needs customization. Go to Theme Options and see what customization options you have available.

Another thing you can do is to google something like “best free WordPress themes” or “best free minimalistic WordPress themes”, or “best free WordPress themes for…” and see what people are talking about. Some of these themes will not be available at appearance section and you will need to go to the designer’s site and download a zipped file and then upload it via Appearance ==> Themes ==> Add New ==> Upload Theme. Just be careful with free stuff.

Your theme choice is not a final decision. You will be able to change your theme later. Usually it’s a matter of one click. If your theme had non-standard options, however, minor issues are possible. For example,

[icon_list style=”crank”]

  • this crank is not something every WordPress theme has.

[/icon_list]

If I ever change this theme all my cranks will be replaced with standard list bullets.

Update: as you see I switched to another theme and crank isn’t there anymore. That’s what I meant! 😉 And so that you know how it looked like here is an old screenshot of my crank:

demo

Adding pages to RSS feed

By default WordPress comes with RSS feed and you don’t have to do anything to make it work. However, default RSS settings are to include only posts. If you are using pages, you probably want them to appear in your RSS feed too. If you are wondering what’s the difference between posts and pages and what you should use, here is the answer ».

To include your pages in RSS, go to Plugins–>Add New and type in search box “rss includes pages”. This is the name of plugin that will solve the problem for you. Simply install it and activate it.

More important RSS settings

Now go to Settings –> Reading. We’ve been here before when we were setting a static page as homepage in part 2. There is more important stuff here though. You can set the number of items you want your feed to display and choose between full text or summary RSS.

rss settings

There is a lot of debate whether you should use full text or summary. I will only tell you my opinion, but you don’t have to agree and do the way I do it. If you choose full text you make it super easy to republish the contents of your entire website elsewhere. In addition, some of your ads such as PPC ads will not display in your RSS feed. People who subscribe to your feed can read it in their readers without ever visiting your website. Some other webmasters argue that setting it to summary makes you look cheap, although I don’t see how. In my experience, if your website is in a non-technical niche and/or your visitors are not bloggers themselves, your visitors have no idea what RSS is anyway.

I personally set my RSS to summary and don’t worry about looking cheap.

Improving your website’s SEO

In your plugins area find, install and activate WordPress SEO by Yoast. This is a fantastic plugin from a highly reputable source that allows you to do tons of SEO pro stuff. At the very minimum, it allows you to add custom descriptions to your pages and posts and allows to add noindex and/or nofollow tag to individual pages (Advanced area, see image below)

wordpress seo by yoast description

This will appear right after the text editor when you create your posts or pages.

It also creates your .xml sitemap automatically and you can set it to submit it to Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools automatically. It can change the way your titles appear in search engines and social media (doesn’t have to be the same), ping search engines, edit .htaccess without having to go to cPanel, add ads or custom text at the end of your RSS feed, and does a lot of other advanced stuff I simply can’t cover. These additional settings will be available under SEO link that will appear once you install the plugin. Plugin is constantly updated and like everything else, always keep it up to date.

Alternatively, you can use Google XML Sitemaps + Add Meta Tags plugin combo instead of SEO by Yoast.

Robots.txt for WordPress

There are different opinions about what should be in your robots.txt file if you are using WordPress, but at the bare minimum it should be this:

User-Agent: *
Disallow: /wp-content/plugins/

Open your robots.txt and add the second line under User-Agent: *

If you don’t have robots.txt, create it in your cPanel and paste these two lines.

You can use WordPress SEO by Yoast to block individual pages.

Same author (Joost de Valk) has Google Analytics plugin, so in case you use Analytics, maybe it’s a good idea to install that one too. You don’t have to use Joost’s plugins, but I suggest them because he has a great reputation and keeps everything up to date.

Converting the rest of your pages

Converting your inner pages is no different than converting your homepage – simple copy/paste job. You have visual and HTML editor, so you can choose what works best for you. You have to upload images via Add Media button. If your images are uploaded to your host, you can embed them with HTML code using HTML editor if you think it’s quicker. Don’t forget to ensure page URL is exactly same as it was in static version. If you are using description tags, add descriptions (below editor if you are using WordPress SEO by Yoast). Preview your work, if everything is OK hit Publish.

Do not use WordPress parent page feature if you need to keep all your URLs same (and you do. There is nothing wrong with using this for new pages but for your old pages it will change your URL address. It is NOT same concept as Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 in SBI!

If you were adding a new page your page would go live immediately. However, because we are TRANSFERRING from static to WordPress we still have plain HTML version in our cPanel. This prevents your WordPress version of same page to go live. To fix this, go to your cPanel, find the file name of this page and delete it. Now refresh this page and you should see WordPress version of page you just created.

Repeat the process for all pages. You don’t have to do this all at once. You can take months to convert entire website – it’s not a problem. The only time you had to rush is when you were converting your homepage.

Fixing your sidebars and footer

Sidebars are managed from Appearance –> Widgets menu. You can drag text widget to your right sidebar and then paste any text or custom code here and click Save. The widget should appear on all pages of your website.
wordpress text widget and sidebar

You will be able to manage footer area in similar fashion and the changes will take place on your entire website.

Some themes will give you more options for sidebars, such as left and right sidebar and additional widgets for header. Some other themes give you only one right sidebar. So it really depends. Depending on the theme you chose, you will see different options in your Widget area.

Different layouts for different pages

It’s possible to have different layouts on different pages. For example, you might want your homepage or your sales page look different from your regular pages. For example, you might want to have a special layout for homepage or no sidebars on sales pages. This depends on your theme you choose. Some themes offer many custom layout options, so you need to find something that satisfies all your needs. To change the layout of an individual page, find this page in your dashboard, click edit, then click on drop-down menu under Page Attributes. You will see what layout options you have available. Here are mine:
wp layouts

If I want to change layout of one of my pages I will simply choose the layout I need from menu to the right and hit Update. You might have less options there. Again, it depends on your theme.

Adding menus

By default WordPress will add your pages to main navigation bar, but most probably that’s not exactly the way you want it. To create your own menu go to Appearance –> Menus, enter menu name (whatever you want it to be, this won’t be visible on your website) and add URLs you want to appear and labels (that’s what will appear on the buttons) and click Add to Menu. You can drag and rearrange buttons to get the order you like. You can also do drop-down menus here. Once all URLs are added, make sure you choose the menu you just created as primary menu (top left) and hit save. Refresh your pages and make sure the menu looks right.

Wordpress custom menu setup

Contact forms

WordPress has a great plugin called Contact Form 7. Install, activate it and set it to deliver you messages to email address of your choice. I will not cover the setup, because it’s very intuitive. Basically it gives you a piece of code to paste into your blank Contact Us page and it will become a form when you publish. You only need to make sure that email specified for delivering messages is email where you expect to receive them.

Ads

You can ad ads to sidebars via Widgets function. If you want to add ad code inside the text you can either do it manually using Text editor (HTML editor instead of visual) or use one of may great plugins built especially for this purpose. I like to use Quick Adsense (you don’t have to use it for Adsense, you can use it for anything you want). You can set it to add ads automatically before, after and inside the content. You have complete control.

I also use Seo Smart Links+. It allows me to choose keywords and convert them to affiliate links (or any links) on my entire website. It’s easy to update them or change to another product this way.

Speeding up your website

Because WordPress is database driven, it is natural for it to be a little slower than static websites but you don’t have to put up with this. There is a number of cache plugins that will help you speed up your website and I think I tested most of them if not all of them. I could spot some kind of problem with each of them, but there was one that was just perfect Hyper Cache Extended. I highly recommend that you install and activate it once you are done with converting your website. After you activate it, you will see message in your dashboard telling you insert a line of code to one of your core files – do that. Just be careful not to mess up anything as you are editing. The best thing to go about this is to back up file before editing just in case. That way you will be safe. I described how to activate Hyper Cache Extended here.

More…

You can do nearly anything you want with your WordPress and there is really no reason for you to use something else. You can have forums, member areas, receive submissions from your users using Users functionality and much much more. I would recommend to add plugins slowly, stick only to well tested and widely used plugins and whenever you can manage without plugin, do so. Plugins are cool of course, but sometimes they might needlessly expose you to dangers and get your WordPress hacked or display ads you don’t approve or hide links. The same goes for free themes. I am not telling you not to use these fantastic free options, I am just advising you to be cautious.

You will also need a backup plugin. While most hosts provide free backup services you should never rely on it. I cannot advise you of any particular backup plugin at the moment as I am doing my research. See for yourself what backup plugins are available, read reviews and find what’s best for you. Make sure it backs up files and DATABASE. Store your backup somewhere safe, such as Dropbox.

I personally backup manually. I described manual backup process here.

I hope this was comprehensive enough and you found it helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to post in WordPress forum.

How to Convert a Static Website to WordPress, Part 2

wordpress logo blue

This is part 2 of the tutorial. If you didn’t read (or watch) part 1, its available here. While this tutorial is useful for anyone who is converting a static website to WordPress, I am writing this with SBIers (or ex-SBIers to be precise) in mind. Website owners who convert from SBI! to WordPress have special requirements, such as www. prefix before the domain and .html at the end of custom URLs. It’s all covered here.

As usual, I prepared video and text version. I believe it’s better to watch videos and read text version for best results. If you have any questions, please post in WordPress help forum.

Here is video version:

In part 1 of this tutorial we installed WordPress into the root folder of our domain. If you were to start a new website from scratch this would be enough. However, we are converting already existing static website to WordPress, so we cannot settle for WordPress default settings. We need to make a few tweaks to make our WordPress installation work much like a static website (not without amazing dynamic features of WordPress though.) This part is especially important – ignoring it might lead to lower search engine rankings. The good news, the fix is not hard. If you already watched my deliberately slow video above, you know it took me only about 5 minutes. Let’s get started!

You can access your WordPress dahboard by typing in your browser

http://yourwebsite.com/wp-admin

Use your username and password you created in part 1 of Static to WordPress tutorial to sign in. This is your WordPress dashboard:

wordpress dashboard

Adding www. before domain name in WordPress

If you always had www. prefix before your domain name, you need to fix this now. If you didn’t – ignore this part. To add www. simply go to Settings, then choose General and type in www. before your domain name under WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL) and hit Save Changes, as shown in the video. WordPress will get you signed out automatically. Simply use your username and password to sign back in. Refresh your homepage. It displays with www. now.

Adding .html at the end of WordPress URLs (same for .php or anything else)

If your pages were indexed and ranked with .html extension (or any other particular extension, such as .php, .htm, .asp, .aspx etc.) and you have links to your website all over the web that link to these pages, you definitely want to have exactly same URLs. There is no need to do any redirects. There is a number of plugins that helps you fix that.

In my example I am using plugin called “.html on Pages”, however there are other plugins you could use. There is a plugin called “WP Page Extension”. It allows you to set any extension you want. I personally didn’t test it, but reviews are good. There are separate plugins for .html, .php and other. It’s up to you what you will use. I would suggest to use plugins with good reviews, like 4-5 stars. You almost always have a choice of plugins that do the same thing, so you have many options to choose from.

Go to Plugins, Add New and type the name of plugin (or keyword) into search box. Choose the plugin you need, install and activate it, as shown in the video. When I am not sure which plugin to use, I like to make Google search first, find the plugin I need via Google and then type the precise name of the plugin in Plugin search box in WordPress. Here is WordPress plugin installation page:

Wordpress plugin installation wizard

It’s really simple to install plugins in WordPress. You can see how I did that in my video. The wizard guides you through the process. WordPress is very intuitive.

Setting custom URLs in WordPress

SBI! (Site Build It!) concentrates on teaching you to make keyword research and then give pages URLs that contain keywords + .html. Keyword research is an excellent idea of course, however in my opinion you don’t want to let your competitors know your keywords. If I know your website is successful due to keyword research you’ve done and I know you have a habit of naming your URLs with keywords phrases, technically I can take an advantage of all hard work you have done and build my own website using same keywords. You saved me tons of time and money. I will compete with you now. To make matters worse, Site Build It! uses the keyword meta tag. If you add extra words to your keyword phrases in URLs I can always see your page source and know your precise keywords.

However, if your website was online for some time, you have no choice but to keep these URLs and that’s what we are going to do (you can get rid of keyword meta tags though).

Go to Settings, choose Permalinks and check the radio button next to “Post Name” and hit Save Changes. With these settings, WordPress will give your pages and posts URLs that are basically your titles, like:

http://www.yoursite.com/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-wordpress.html

There will be an Edit button where you can change this to anything you like, including pure keyphrases or something totally different (you can see that in video).

.html at the end doesn’t give you any additional benefit, but in our case we HAVE to keep it, because our website was already spidered and ranked with .html (or .php or any other extension you might have).

Creating a Static Homepage

It’s time to fix our homepage. Right now our homepage displays latest blog posts (which is WordPress default), but you can set any page you like as your homepage and I will show you how to do that. First of all let’s create a page. Go to Pages, Add New, give your page exactly same title as it had in the static version of your website.

For homepage URL, if your homepage was previously available at, let’s say, www.domain.com/index.html, edit URL to be “index” now. If you are using .html on Pages plugin, the .html extension will be added automatically. This way if you had any old links pointing to your homepage as “www.domain.com/index.html” they will be redirected to your homepage at “www.domain.com”. I talked more about it here.

Go to the your homepage content backup, copy the contents of your homepage and paste it right here. The cool thing about WordPress editor is that it pastes links too. So, it’s really fast and simple. If you want HTML editor there is a switch between Visual and HTML at the top of the editor.

Regarding images, you can copy them same way you copy text and links without uploading them to WordPress. This will save tons of time but in the future when, let’s say, you are moving to a new host or another server you should remember you did this and take image folder from your File Manager with you.

This only works in our particular situation when you have a static site hosted by a certain host and you convert it within the same host. If images need to be realigned you can use Text button where you can edit html for your image. Here is basic html you could use:

Align left:

‹img src="http://www.domain.com/image-files/image1.jpg" class="alignleft" alt="image description"›

Align right:

‹img src="http://www.domain.com/image-files/image1.jpg" class="alignright" alt="image description"›

Align center:

‹img src="http://www.domain.com/image-files/image1.jpg" class="aligncenter" alt="image description"›

If are an ex-SBIers who was using block builder you might have “images” instead of “image-files” but whatever it was WordPress will copy it. You only might need to realign your images to make your page look more professional and attractive.

Otherwise you can use Add Media button or bulk upload feature. In the future when you add new images you should definitely use Add Media button.

I don’t think I have to explain much here. It’s a very intuitive experience. You can preview your page and if everything is ok, hit Publish.

WordPress default themes don’t look particularly good, but you can customize them. You can also go to Appearance, Themes, Install Themes and search thousands of free themes. Many look good, but always pay attention to ratings. I personally never use these free themes and prefer to buy professionally designed themes from ThemeForest or Genesis compatible themes by StudioPress. It might be not your priority at the moment and you can use something free for now and switch to another theme later. WordPress makes it easy.

If you are going to use ThemeForest you need some experience with WordPress. Some of their themes are hard to configure or are not properly SEO-optimized titles-wise. Your best bet is to stay on twenty twelve for a while, which allows you to upload your own header and change background color. The theme is blank so can be adjusted for any type of site. When you get a little better at WordPress you will find something you really like and switch in one click.

I decided to keep the default theme for now as I don’t want people to get confused by all details involved. So never mind, my website doesn’t look good but my setup is correct. URL is what I want it to be. I will simply hit publish. Here is what I got:

wordpress defalt theme

In part 1 I backed up my homepage under index-2.html. I don’t want duplicate content issues so I will go to my cPanel at Hostgator and delete index-2.html.

How to Make WordPress Display a Static Page as Homepage

Right now WordPress displays my latest posts instead of homepage. To be precise, it displays its sample post Hello World!, because I didn’t write any posts yet. I want my homepage to display index.html instead of latest posts, so I will go to Settings, Reading and check Front Page Displays a Static page radio button. I will then find my homepage title in dropdown menu and hit Save.

wordpress reading options

If I refresh my homepage now I will find it displays my homepage contents correctly and the blog is gone. I could play with design right now using Appearance, Themes, Theme Options or even install new themes.

Here is part 3 »

How to Convert a Static Website to WordPress, Part 1

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In today’s tutorial I’ll show how to convert a static website to dynamic WordPress CMS (content management system).

Is your website STILL with SBI! and you want to jump straight to WordPress?
Your tutorial is now here. This tutorial is for those who already have static websites on other hosts (other than SBI) and will teach them to convert their sites gradually.

If you prefer videos, I have a video version of this tutorial. Here it is:

And here is the text version. Please take time to read it even if you watched the video…

I assume you have a static website hosted by a decent host, such as ASO or Hostgator, who allows you to use cPanel for managing your website’s files. What we are going to do now is this:

  • Go to your websites cPanel, which is located at yourwebsite.com/cpanel.

    Enter your username and password and login. You will see something like this:

    Under Files, find File Manager (NOT Legacy File Manager), click on it, make sure you choose the right “Document Root For” (in case you have more than one website under the same account or if you have subdomains you will have a drop down menu) and click “Go” to enter. Something like this will open in new window:
    Hostgator's cPanel File Manager

    See that folder list to the left? Make sure public_html is highlighted.

    Scroll down the file list (to the right) and locate your homepage, which will be under index.htm, default.html, index.aspx, index.php, home.html or whatever you were using (ex-SBIers: index.html), right click and choose rename. I usually call it index-2.html. This is necessary for backing up your homepage just in case something goes wrong. You also want to access the contents of your homepage easily. Once you rename your homepage to index-2.html your homepage will be not available to your visitors for a short while (while you do the installation). If you open your homepage you will see this:

    index of

    This is basically the list of all your files and folders available in File Manager. You don’t want to leave it that way for very long, so if you reached this step, continue your work until you convert your homepage. Don’t stop here. After you convert your homepage you can take a break and go as slowly as you wish. You can open in a new tab yoursite.com/index-2.html. Your homepage will show here. Keep it open, you will need it soon.

    If you edited your .htaccess previously to add www. before your domain, you should edit once again and remove the following code

    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteBase /
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yoursite.com [NC]
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yoursite.com/$1 [L,R=301]
    

    Once your remove it your domain will be available with www. and without www. That’s ok for a short period of time. Once you install WordPress you will be able to fix this right from your WordPress dashboard.

  • Now go back to your cPanel and find Softaculous (for A Small Orange users, Fantastico de Luxe icon OR QuickInstall icon (Hostgator users). All these allow you to easily install WordPress and are located under Software/Services. Here is Softaculous at ASO:

    Softaculous at A Small Orange

    As for Quick Install or Fantastico, these are available with Hostgator. Both allow you to install WordPress (and many other interesting platforms with a click of a button). There is not much difference between the two, except that QuickInstall will assign you a default username “admin”, while Fantastico allows you to choose your own username.

    Click whatever you will be using and choose WordPress. Here is how your settings should be with Softaculous (click to enlarge):

    Softaculous settings

    In case you are using QuickInstall:

    QuickInstall settings for root folder installation

    And in case you prefer Fantastico de Luxe, here are the settings to use (for root folder):

    Fantastico de Luxe settings for WordPress

    Once again “Install in directory” should be empty if you want your installation to be in the root folder.

    Follow through the instructions until the end and once you are done refresh your website’s homepage. You will see something similar to this:

    Wordpress default installation, homepage

    This is the default WordPress theme (or template) called twenty ten. It doesn’t look very good, so perhaps you’ll want to change it anyway. There are a few ways to go about this. If you are really new to WordPress, are not technical or / and have no time to obsess about details, start with another WordPress theme called twenty twelve. It is one of their three official themes and comes with your installation. This theme is safe, mobile optimized and you can customize it to something you can live with. Check Appearance –> Themes, find twenty twelve and activate it.

    If you are a fashion victim, there are a lot of free WordPress themes, but sometimes they have technical issues, security issues or even hidden links. That’s why I suggest that you stick to default (twenty twelve) for a while and buy a professionally built premium theme later.

    I will not discuss custom theme installation in this tutorial. So I will continue using WordPress default theme just to show you the basics. A few days in, you will figure out this type of details yourself. In addition, theme authors usually provide videos or written instructions on installation.

Not feeling confident? You can make a test installation of WordPress in a folder. This means that while your site will be running as usual, you will have your special area where you can perform tests. Use Fantastico de Luxe to create your test site. Instead of installing WordPress in the root directory of your site create a special folder and install it there. In this case you should postpone renaming your homepage until you are ready to work with WordPress in your root folder.

When you reach the place where Fantastico asks you in what directory you want to create your WordPress installation specify something like “test”. You don’t have to create this folder manually, Fantastico will do it for you. Once the installation is complete you will be able to access your test site at yoursite.com/test and your dashboard at yoursite.com/test/wp-admin.

You don’t want search engines to index your test site. Once you are done with installation, go to Settings –> Reading and check the box next to “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” and hit Save Changes. THIS IS ONLY FOR TEST SITE. Also DO NOT add www. to your test site. However you can try everything else, like themes, plugins, and all other WordPress features.

When you feel confident enough to make installation in your root folder and actually convert your website don’t forget to remove this test installation. You can remove it via Fantastico under “Current Installation”

This post is becoming too long and I have a lot more to say. I will split it in several parts. Here is Part 2 (text and video). If you have any questions please post in my forum.