Updating WordPress and Backing Up Data

People are smart – really!  I know sometimes it doesn’t APPEAR that way but they really are – IF you understand the WHY behind what they’re doing.  In my experience, you must identify the “why” behind a problem before you can begin to provide a real solution.

When it comes to updating WordPress and backing up data – I’ve seen that there’s a REASON for why many people don’t perform these essential WordPress tasks and my daughter provided a GREAT illustration the other day.

Danielle gets REALLY annoyed with one of the exercise DVDs she uses because during the workout – the featured Barbie-esque creature chirps, “You just have to MAKE time for exercise.”  My daughter is annoyed because – when she looked up this woman online – she discovered that she works full time  as a personal trainer.  She snarled, “Of COURSE she has no trouble making “time” to exercise – she works in a gym!”

So I get it.  I get that many WordPress bloggers aren’t “working in a gym”.    Just as you have to find a way to fit exercise into your schedule – you have to find a way to fit blog maintenance into your life.

Nagging Never Works

The reason people don’t back up their data and update their WordPress installation is  not for lack of “nagging”.  WordPress gurus who speak geek fluently (for some – “plain English” is a second language). are constantly admonishing WordPress users to keep their installation of WordPress current.   They go on and on about “security” issues and can even share tales of horror about lost content and blogs destroyed because someone failed to update their WordPress blog installation.

Yet – there are still many – MANY blogs operating on outdated versions of WordPress…. like prior to 2.8 in some cases.  Why?  It’s not because the WordPress development team hasn’t TRIED to make it easy – they’ve included beg notices and made it so you don’t even have to log out of your blog to update.  Yet – I’ve found that even technically savvy clients will contact me – quaking in fear – because of the warning which appears before you update WordPress –

Important: before upgrading, please backup your database and files.

This links to a Codex page which is approximately 10 miles long.  I know from experience that when my people (who aren’t signed up for automatic updates) get to this point – their reaction is something like this…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9df0Kz6A_58[/youtube]

The reason the page is 10 miles long is because they have to try to cover EVERY possibility available from various web hosting companies.   This is what happens when you try to write a message targeting EVERYONE – but that’s a rant better suited for my book’s blog Beyond Niche Marketing.  🙂

Quick Easy Database Backup

So here’s a quick EASY way to back up your blog – it’s a WordPress plug in called WP-DB Manager.  Install it on your blog and you can not only backup – but optimize and repair your database without logging out of WordPress.  I then FTP a copy of this backup to my hard drive and then burn it to a CD.  (This level of OCD  is  only defined as paranoia if you’re NOT working with Windows based computers.)  By the way – I feel this plug in is WELL worth a $20 donation to the creator.

Remember, your database is WHERE your blog content REALLY lives.  Pulling a backup of your WordPress blog without pulling a copy of the database is NOT backing up your blog. (If you’re thinking “duh”  as you read this – let me just say – there’s a REASON I’m clarifying this here.)

If you think your blog may have been hacked – Donncha et al have created a plug in to scan for exploits.

I know it’s one more thing in an already busy day – but it’s truly a zen moment when you experience the inner peace of having your database backed up and your blog purring along.

Introducing WordPress 3.0

WordPress 3.0 was recently released and it has caused quite a stir in the WordPress community.  I had to chuckle when I saw the RSS feed widget below appear in my iGoogle.

The first post is the post at the bottom which is  “Dowload WordPress 3.0 now.”   It was promptly followed by two later posts of how to FIX the problems caused by updating.

Most of my clients don’t know what they don’t know – and in many cases that leads to WILDLY unrealistic expectations – such as blog updates being effortless.  When it comes to updating WordPress blogs – expect the unexpected.  While the WordPress development team does an exceptional job of vetting the software – there’s no way for ANYONE to know how the software will work on the wide array of hosting providers who host WordPress blogs.

For those of you who don’t know, I provide hosting for over 100 WordPress blogs and as part of that hosting service, I provide automatic updates for my clients.   I also provide support services for about a half a dozen more clients who maintain multiple WordPress blogs as part of their internet marketing strategy.

Which is why – I maintain several blogs which act as “update guinea pigs” – so I can see if it’s time to unleash an update on my clients.   For example, the last time WordPress changed it’s internal architecture this significantly – many of my clients discovered their beloved theme wasn’t going to make the transition.  Fortunately, I was able to contact the clients and warn them of the impending update meant for their blog.

When I began providing my hosting with automatic update service over 4 years ago, WordPress updates were few and far between.

At that time, the battle was raging between Typepad and WordPress – with WordPress being labeled “hard to use” and “only for geeks”. Other blogging software contenders like DruPal were actually in the running in those days so deciding to “back” the WordPress “dark horse” was a risky decision for the direction of my business.

Fast forward 4 years and it seems everyone is on the WordPress bandwagon – with good reason.  One of the reasons WordPress blogs are SO popular is that they are so search engine friendly.   Another reason is – despite the initial “press” – the only “hard” part about using WordPress was installation.  My business began offering WordPress installation for clients and discovered there were a LOT of people who were ready to take control over their web destiny.    As a result, I have several clients whose technological expertise is limited to opening and responding to emails who have successfully taken their blogs to the top of the SERPS for their chosen keyword.

This has not gone unnoticed and the same quality of people who fill your mailbox with offers of “get rich while watching porn” – are also launching attacks on WordPress self hosted blogs.  The early “hacks” were an attempt to hijack your blog – or to hijack your email program to send spam.  However, lately the attacks are becoming more frequent – and more fiercely devastating.

It is more important now than ever before to make sure your installation of WordPress and all of your plugins are up to date.

Over the past few months, I’m getting more calls than ever to try to “rescue” blogs on older versions of WordPress.  Unfortunately, these are people who “passed” on my Cyber Angel hosting service and they are now facing the consequences of their decision.   In yet another example of ” WILDLY unrealistic expectations” – if your blog is hacked – there is no magic ritual which will enable anyone to retrieve your database without a backup.

The “foundation” of your WordPress blog is your database.  To perform a periodic backup of your WordPress blog – you need only to download a backup of your database and then simply FTP the contents of your wp-content folder to your hard drive.  You only need to FTP the contents of your wp-content folder once – to preserve your theme.  As for backing up the database – do this once a week – or even once a month -and it will mean never having to say “goodbye” to all of your blog’s content overnight.

Everything’s relative… setting your life thermostat

Today in my little corner of south eastern Florida – it’s 60 degrees today.

BRRR!!!

I don’t expect you to cry me a river – especially if you’re living in the path of the bitter cold that is blanketing much of the northern United States. However let me assure  you that temperatures in the 60’s feel positively FRIGID when you’ve spent a few summers surviving “surface of the sun” heat indexes in the mid to upper 120’s.

Meanwhile, a check of the weather back in my hometown in Indiana reveals that the current AIR temperature is currently -11 and the wind makes it feels like -29 … and those temps are °F by the way!   It’s even worse where my in-laws live.  It’s -20 and it feels like it’s -40 below just an hour north!  (Yes, I’m deeply concerned about the state of the plumbing in my Indiana property!)

But this whole weather thing has got me thinking about how where we are (and who we’re with) affects us and how our experiences shape our view.  In other words – there’s more than one setting on your life thermostat.

For example, I know that the weather today at my house would have felt positively tropical in January when I was living in Indiana five years ago.  Unfortunately, KNOWING that doesn’t make it FEEL any more tropical today.  Living down here for four short years has reset my thermostat – without my “permission” I might add.

That’s right.  I didn’t make a conscious decision to TRY to reset my body’s  thermostat.   I didn’t attempt to use “positive thinking” to change my body’s physical reaction to temperature so 60 degrees would feel cold to me.   As a matter of fact,  the opposite is true.  I desperately didn’t WANT to be a “Flor-idiot” who complains about being cold when it’s 60 degrees outside.

It didn’t matter what I desired, by moving to southern Florida, I changed my physical environment and as a result, my body’s physical responses have been altered.

Setting your Life Thermostat

However, there are other aspects to setting and regulating your life thermostat – beyond that of your physical perceptions of hot and cold.  Call it self help, call it self awareness, call it authentic expression or call it creative productivity –  the input you allow into your mind greatly affects your life thermostat settings.  (Oh, and if you think you can separate your “business” from your “life” ….. good luck with that.)

Just as your body will get “adjusted” to your physical environment – your mind will also get “adjusted” to the environment you create there as well.

Way back in 1997, I taught myself to code in HTML.  When word got out around town that I had acquired this skill, local business people started hiring me to create websites for their businesses.  One day about a year later, a very progressive woman who called herself a “life coach”  hired me to create a website for her business.  This turned out to be a significant “life thermostat altering” event.

What you read – what you watch – and the people you choose to accompany you on this journey called life – all have a dramatic effect on where your “life thermostat” is set.

Because I started working with forwarding thinking, successful people, my life thermostat settings changed… to the point where I find it difficult to relate to people from my “previous” life.

I recently was contacted by a co-worker from my past.  She was laid off from a subsequent employer and worrying about what she would do when her unemployment ran out in a few weeks.  She contacted me in hopes of landing a “J-O-B”.  However, her passions don’t lie in administrative work – and as much as I would have LOVED to have a passionate virtual assistant, it was easy to see that she was not that person.  So, in the course of the conversation (which lasted less than 40 minutes), we came up with a plan for her to start her own business based on the very things she was passionately devoting her time to during her unemployment.

I was surprised at how blatantly OBVIOUS what she SHOULD be doing was – and then I realized that my life thermostat settings have changed DRAMATICALLY since we last worked together.  She’s been punching a time clock, rubbing elbows with other “wage slaves” over the past decade.  Meanwhile, I’ve been spending the last decade connecting with other people who breath “rarified air” on a daily basis.

I am honored and feel privileged to be surrounded by such an amazing group of successful business owners.

Don’t underestimate the power of your surroundings to impact your perceptions and thinking.   What changes have you made (or do you need to make) to change your life thermostat?

Sneak Peak at WordPress 2.7 Dashboard

If you’re using an updated version of WordPress, you’ve been seeing what is known in the trade as a “beg” screen asking you to update to WordPress 2.6.3 for the past few weeks.  (If you’ve been ignoring the previous beg screens, you should have noticed the message changed recently.)

It’s really important to keep your WordPress installation current.  These beg screens help to remind self hosted WordPress blog users that part of using the world’s best CMS software is keeping your installation current.

A self hosted WordPress blog installation is the closest thing to web site marketing magic you get – and when you’ve got something that is that powerful AND easy – well, the “bad guys” on the internet will want a piece of that action.

Imagine if there was a possibility that you could gain back door access to some of the most highly trafficked sites on the internet.  Imagine that if you could find this golden ticket, you could gain access and inject high PR sites with code to link that site to websites of your choosing.   Wouldn’t you be constantly searching to find that hidden way in too?

The WordPress development team is faced with the challenge of matching wits with those “bad guys” every day.  They’re working tirelessly to make WordPress even better AND easier to use.

THANK YOU WordPress Development Team for all your hard work!

(I’m going to bitch and whine a bit later, so I wanted to preface that whine and bitch session with an expression of gratitude!)

If you’re one of my clients, don’t panic when the beg screen appears asking you to update WordPress to the 2.7 version.  I’ll be “testing” it thoroughly on my test blog before I update yours.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  WordPress 2.7 is not ready for production blogs yet!!! Wait until your “beg screen” tells you it’s time before you update.

I just installed the beta version on one of those test blogs.  Here’s the screenshot of the new and improved dashboard:

If you aren’t my client and aren’t familiar with my business model, I work with people who need tutorials to be able to use WordPress.  Because I’m a SUCKER for customer service, I prepare these tutorials in the format my CLIENTS desire (PDF) , not the format which is easiest for me to create (video).

I won’t leave my clients on 2.6 for any longer than necessary – and that means I need to get started creating a whole new suite of tutorials – created with “regular” people in mind

WARNING:  BITCHING AND WHINING LIKE A PRE-PUBESCENT GIRL STARTS NOW:

This change in the dashboard is effectively rendering the last Blog Post Tutorial I created EXTINCT!  WORTHLESS!!!

Just like the ones I created for all the versions that have come before!

I HATE IT!!!  I’ve got other things I need to do!

I know why they made the changes. The new dashboard IS more intuitive and is easier to use.  However, I enjoy the comfort of the familiar.

In the movie, V for Vendetta, V begins his address of the nation with:

Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption.

I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke.

Fortunately, the new WordPress isn’t promising you order and peace, nor is it demanding your silent, obedient consent.   However, ignoring this update will no doubt create chaos and confusion in your future.

With the update will come the usual minor and temporary chaos.  I’m sure that popular plugins will cease to function and some themes will stop working as a result of the update.   However, it’s SO WORTH IT when you consider how much you gain by using WordPress.

My sister owns a Mercedes.  NOTHING is cheap when it comes to the care of that car.  A simple lube oil and filter runs almost $200.  However, she has deemed the car essential to her business AND her professional image so she accepts the costs associated with owning  a Mercedes.   IMHO, the same applies to WordPress.

Fast Track to Blog Success – 100% Discount Ends Friday

Want to get bloggers “buzzing”?  Sell your blog for big bucks. That’s what happened when John Wu sold his Bankaholic blog to Bankrate for a cool $15 Million.

Cath Lawson did the math and the 26 month old blog netted that blogger a cool $3348 per hour.

If you’ve been blogging for more than a few months, you may be wondering what makes the Bankaholic blog worth so much money.  After all, the blog doesn’t get NEARLY the number of comments that Cath’s blog gets.  There’s very little “community” on the blog – unlike on Cath’s blog, yet it’s raking in a record setting payday for the blog’s developer.

The key to the Bankaholic’s success is simple:  KEYWORDS. The Bankaholic’s blog expertly targets the right keywords – the keywords a mega-site like Bankrate wants.  If you’ve run a PPC campaign lately, you’ll see where the $15 Million dollar price tag for a blog that ranks well on highly sought after keywords might actually be considered a BARGAIN!

I love it when people “do the math”.   SEO Diva did the math and showed how a $20,000 domain name can be a BARGAIN in the end.

The Bankaholic blog sale happened just as I was in the middle of doing a review for one of my 8 Week Power Blog Launch customers.    Turns out, people want to fix their blogs in 30 minutes or less, not 8 weeks.  (Mock Horror and Surprise!).  So, as I was in the middle of creating this “Fast Blog Fix” report, the Bankaholic sale was announced.  I put my 30 Minute system to the test and applied the principles to the Bankaholic blog.  The results are revealed in “Fast Track to Blog Success”.

I’ll be offering this product for sale next week, and  I’ll definitely be adding it as an “added bonus” for people who buy the 8 Week Power Blog Launch.

However, this week – until October 10th (Friday), you can get this report for free.  Just use the code CathRocks and click the button below.  This discount code will give you a 100% discount on this report.

Add to Cart

I was going to email it to people who commented, but the file has lots of screen shots which makes it too big to send via email. So, I’ll be using e-junkie to give this away!

Click the button, enter the discount code and it will be yours for the taking.  I’m sure you’ll find the analysis of the keywords used on the Bankaholic blog fascinating AND educational.

Of course,  when it does go for sale – there will be an Affiliate Program so if you recommend the book to family, friends and blog readers you grab your piece of the action.