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Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

I’m going through the process of learning to customize my site using Thesis 2.1.  As I go along, things are starting to get quite a bit easier.  A big part of the puzzle is just figuring out which elements effect each other, and where to change different things.  Honestly, it’s a lot easier than the old Thesis, it’s just confusing at first.

My first big roadblock was a really dumb one, so I wanted to post about it.  I wanted to start adding in elements from my site that weren’t native to a WordPress installation.  This is things like ads, my top navigation bar with links to all of my different sites, and even some additional footer info.  This seems like it’d be super easy… but for me it wasn’t.  Once you know what to do, it’s a piece of cake, but I’m not sure where the heck you’re supposed to find the info to tell you this stuff.  I’ve been going through the steps posted by an awesome blog I mentioned in my first Thesis 2.1 post, called Thrifty Zizel.  He’d done the steps with 2.0, and a few things changed in 2.1, especially packages and the way you manipulate a text box.

Adding a text box is done through the Thesis Skin Editor.  First you may need to create an HTML Container (if it’s a new area on the page).  Use the box on the right, and select it from the “Select a Box to Add” drop down menu.  Add the box, then shift drag it on to your page.

Next up is to add the text box, which is Text Box in the drop down menu.  Shift drag it in to your new container, or wherever else on the page you’d like it to live.  Once it’s placed, rename it from Text Box, to something that makes more sense for what it’s going to be (you’ll see why in a moment).

Now here’s the trick.  In 2.0, you’d open it here and add your HTML, but that’s changed now.  In 2.1, you need to go to another Admin area to make this change.

Navigate to the Thesis > Skin Content page.  You’ll see a list of Classic Responsive Skin Content items.  Your new Text Area should appear here.  Click it and add your code.

To style it, you have a couple of options.  If your code has classes and IDs already, just add new CSS to the CSS page and you’ll be good to go.  However, the new thesis wants you to give this Text Area a class or ID when you add it in, which will help automate certain things as you expand your site.  To assign these classes or ID’s, you use the Thesis Skin Editor, click on the gear icon of the Text Area, and name it there.

Hopefully this makes some sense.  I had a hell of a time finding the answer to this seemingly simple issue.
Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

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wordpress-reverse

I haven’t been doing as much website work the last year or so, but I’ve just started on a big project that will be cause to update this site a little more often. I’m updating to Thesis 2.1 from Thesis 1! I was a little irritated when they changed everything up, and I haven’t had time to learn how to reskin everything across all of my sites, but this Winter I’m going to dig in and get it done.

I’m having some major speed, SEO, and Google issues with many of my sites, so I’m hoping that cleaning them up and moving the the slicker Thesis 2.1 will help me out. It’s not going to be easy, but I’d really like to make it happen.

To start off my updates, I wanted to share some of the sites that are helping me slowly wrap my brain around this mess of a new theme. I couldn’t have tackled this project without the help of these sites. The Thesis site is terrible at helping you figure this stuff out.

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

  • My favorite site has been Thrifty Zizel. He goes step by step through some of the really weird new things they’ve done, and it’s been crazy helpful. Some of the older packages stuff is still used, but I was able to figure most of that out to apply it to the new version.
  • BYOB Website has mostly paid content, but some of the free stuff has been a big help.
  • One site I haven’t used yet, but plan to come back when I’m playing with boxes is WPThesisSkins

That’s it for now, but I’ll add new links as I come across them!

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WP Robot Plugin for WordPress

A while back I wrote about using WP Robot for automatic content creation.  I was playing around with simple sites that create their own content, mostly using WP Robot and eBay affiliate feeds.  WP Robot is a WordPress plugin that is able to grab content from a variety of sources and post it to your blog.

I recently found a new use for WP Robot, so I wanted to mention that, in addition to giving an update on two years of WP Robot posts on a couple of sites.

Automated Content Creation

As I’d written about in the original post, I was trying WP Robot out on Outdoor Game Reviews & Outdoor Game Bargains.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve more or less left these two sites alone.  I’ll occasionally add games to the Review site, but the Bargains site is an eBay affiliate site, which indexes a few different Outdoor Games.

It didn’t take long to realize that Google was pretty adept at ignoring the posts created by WP Robot.  Whether for issues with duplicate content or some other reason, very few of these blog pages are indexed.  Both sites have continued to create posts, but neither one has seen increases in traffic due to the auto-created content.  In fact, I’d almost guess they’ve been indexed less because of it.  The Bargains site is virtually dead, and the OGR site only sees traffic to the pages I’ve created with reviews, but almost nothing goes to the blog portion.

Beyond the lack of additional traffic generated by the WP Robot posts, a lot of the posts that have been created have veered pretty far off topic.  You can set keywords, but it’s a unique challenge to try to pick keywords that don’t overlap in to other areas.  OGR has created posts at a pretty steady rate, but I think you eventually run out of good content for WP Robot to pull, so it pulls whatever else it can find… which isn’t much.

The end result of almost 2 years of WP Robot content?  Pretty little benefit.  In fact, I think I’ll be removing the posts from OGR to see if I can improve it’s standing in Google by removing the content that they aren’t indexing anyway.  I’ll dig in to OGB, but I may remove things there, too.

New Uses for WP Robot

Given my lack of benefit from WP Robot in the past, you might think I’d be sour on it.  Not at all, actually.  I’ve recently found a use for WP Robot that I’m very happy with.  It’s not the hands-off content creator I’d originally hoped for, but it is serving a purpose.

I’ve got a few sites where video content is a great benefit to the site.  I’ve recently started posting video content to 3 sites with the help of WP Robot.  Cornhole Game Builders, Outdoor Game Players, and Play Drinking Games now have video content.

I’ve found that WP Robot doesn’t do a great job of formatting content, or always picking the correct content, but it does do a heck of a job finding content.  WP Robot is able to create posts in Draft mode, which lets you review or revise them before they are posted.

In the case of the video feeds like I’m doing, I let WP Robot create a new YouTube Draft post about once a week.  Whenever I have time, I go to the site and browse through the Drafts.  I toss the videos that suck right away.  The videos I like, I’ll watch and write a few paragraphs of my own text.  This allows me to format the post I I’d like, and create some unique content to supplement the video.  It’s really easy to quickly describe a video, and the text gives Google something to reference with crawling the page.  I can quickly turn 4 or 5 drafts in to posts, then schedule them to publish over the next few weeks.  An hour of video watching provides me over a month of blog posts!

Another thing to mention is that I’m now using WP Robot on sites that were already working.  All 3 of these sites already had well indexed content, but I was using WordPress Pages, not Posts.  I had the blog portion of my website sitting unused.  WP Robot gives me an easy, semi-automated option for utilizing something that’s already built in to my site, but not being used.  While this content may not create a ton of additional traffic, there’s something it’s doing that can’t be directly measured.  It’s actually providing a better user experience!

For all three sites, I’m able to supplement the existing content with video examples.  People can see visual examples for the Drinking Games I’ve already written rules for, they can watch people play games I’ve featured on Outdoor Game Players, or people can see people actually building the boards they’re learning how to build on Cornhole Game Builders.  All 3 sites are better for the visitor because of the videos.  In the end, that may cause them to share the site with somebody else or create that coveted backlink on their blog or website.

So is WP Robot worth it?  All depends on how you plan to use it.  Customizing the content for your own needs is key.  Just setting it up and assuming it’ll create quality content for your website probably won’t work.  Use it to supplement your content, or gather content for you, and you might just be as happy as I am with it right now.

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Change Shopp Receipt Email Titles

By default, the Shopp Plugin for WordPress uses “New Order” as the subject line for emails.  This works well enough, I guess, but I have reasons to want a little more specificity.  I really wanted the Order ID in the subject, that way I’d be able to scan my order emails and easily find what I’m looking for.  It’d also be very helpful when forwarding orders to some of my vendors.  I generally add it myself, but that’s a pain from my phone — much easier if it’s already there.

After serveral months of running the Shopp Ecommerce Plugin for WordPress, I am really happy with it.  I honestly have few complains, but one of them is their awful private forum.  Support exists, but it’s not very good.  The documentation also exists, but it’s hard to find what you’re looking for.

After many test orders, I finally figured out how to get what I wanted.  I tried using PHP in the subject line, but that messed up the HTML for the entire email.  I ended up using a shortcode, which is how the subject was originally displayed.

Here’s what I did.

First, you’ll need to be using theme templates.  If you don’t know how to do that, comment on this post, and I can explain in a new post.

Second, you’re going to edit the order.php template.  When you open it, right at the top, you’ll see the “From”, “To”, and “Subject” lines for the email.  The original shortcode [subject] is what creates the “New Order” default.  I changed that line to be “OGS Order [orderid]”

I used OGS to signify the order was coming from my Outdoor Game Shop site.  The [orderid] shortcode gets me the desired order number.

Once you’ve made the edits, you just replace the theme template order.php file.  It’s actually pretty easy if you know where to look for everything.  If you have any questions or comments, please let me know!

If you’d like to see it in action, all you have to do is order a game from me!  I’m using Shopp on my Outdoor Game Shop site.

List of shortcodes you can use is here.

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WP Robot Autoblogging Plugin for WordPress

Over the last few years, I’ve accumulated a bunch of domain names.  Many of them are to protect some of my existing names.  Others are just names that I wanted to hold on to and use later.  Oddly enough, in the world of Cornhole there is a LOT of competition for domain names.  I might have come late to the party, but I feel like I’ve got a few that are decent.

I’d love to stick something on a bunch of these domains, especially the ones that I purchased to protect another domain.  It’s a heck of a lot more productive than a redirect, right?

I decided to purchase WP Robot to use for basic content creation on some of these sites.  I certainly don’t have the time or energy to product quality content, but I wanted to see how well WP Robot might be able to perform for me.

About WP Robot

WP Robot is an easy to use autoblogging plugin for WordPress that allows you to turn your blog on auto-pilot. Posts are created with fresh content in regular intervals that you specify. The posts created will be targeted to any keyword you enter and any topic you want. WP Robot can post content from many different sources, including Amazon, Clickbank, Youtube and eBay!

Using WP Robot to Create Content

I’ve been running WP Robot on a couple of sites now for about a month.  I wouldn’t say I’ve seen a huge increase in traffic, but I do feel like the content it’s finding is applicable to my website, and it looks like it should be good for me in the long run.

A good example is my “Outdoor Game Bargains” site.  It’s just a basic eBay affiliate site, so there’s not a lot of static content.  I figured WP Robot would be perfect to give this site a little bit more than just eBay feeds.  I wasn’t using the blog anyway, so it made sense.

Depending on the content of your site, I think WP Robot is a very versatile tool.  For my games sites, the YouTube module is great.  If your site has a topic that many people have written about, the Article module would help you create great content.  You can even have it change some of the language for you to avoid duplicate content penalties.  You get to set all of the keywords, remove certain keywords, and set percentages that the different modules are used.  I really like the Yahoo Answers and YouTube modules.

Like I said, I’ve only added this to a couple of my sites so far, but my results have been pretty good.  If you’ve got some extra domains, WP Robot might be a good way to create content and grab a few visitors.

I’m currently testing WP Robot on Outdoor Game Reviews & Outdoor Game Bargains.

Have you ever used anything similar?  Any experience with WP Robot?

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Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

Thesis WordPress Theme

I LOVE Thesis. I’ve been using it for all of my websites for about 8 months now. In the past, each new website meant I had to search the ‘net for decent WordPress themes. Most of the themes I found were ‘okay’, but never exactly what I wanted. That all changed when I found Thesis.

The best part of Thesis is the amazing SEO. There are a bunch of features to help you increase your site’s SEO built right in. There’s also a great admin panel that lets you choose your site’s fonts, colors, navigation, and more. All built into Thesis!

Once you buy Thesis, you own it, and you get all the future updates for free! That includes the new 1.7.

Thesis 1.7

So back to the NEW Thesis… There’s a lot to be excited about in the new Thesis 1.7.

  • Options Manager. My favorite part. I use similar templates for all of my sites, but I still have to go into Thesis and configure all of the options to make everything work. Not anymore! Thesis now has a way to have your options and import them into a fresh install. RAD.
  • New headline filter – It used to take some CSS trickery to remove the headline, but now it’s built right in!
  • Easy 301 redirects. Another of my favorite new features. I used to use a plugin called “Page Links To”, and now the same functionality built right in to Thesis!
  • New SEO controls and detail. As if the SEO benefits weren’t already great, they’ve added even more. Features for robots tags, categories, and tags. Deep SEO stuff.
  • Flexible new comment system – Gives you the ability to reorder comments, trackbacks, and the comment form.
  • Completely reorganized options pages.
  • Increased efficiency from every angle.
  • Include a slew of JavaScript libraries.
  • New home page controls – complete SEO control on your home page.
  • New hooks
  • Beefed-up internationalization
  • Improved core element defaults
  • Dramatically improved code quality

If you aren’t already using Thesis, I couldn’t encourage it more.  It’s saved me SO much time, and improved all of my sites.  Check it out!

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community
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Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community
 

I’ve been converting most of my websites over to Thesis the last couple of months. There are a few little tweaks I’ve made along the way. I shared a few Thesis tweaks a while ago, I now I wanted to share some more of them.

Remove “Comments Closed”

You can turn off comments for individual pages or posts, but it still leaves the annoying “Comments are closed on this entry” at the bottom of the page. The following bit of code will remove that.

.custom .comments_closed p { display: none; }

There is also an option within the Thesis Options menu to disable comments on all pages. I think this will remove the line for any pages, as well.

Remove the “WordPress Admin” link from footer.

This isn’t a hook or CSS thing, it’s actually something you can do from your Admin Panel.
Go to These Options – Display Options – Administration – Show Admin Link in Footer.

Add Chitika After Posts

Most people have heard of AdSense, but not everybody has heard of Chitika.  Chitika is similar to AdSense, but it only appears when someone has used a search engine to find your site.

Basically, Chitika ads are invisible to your regular visitors, but are a great way to make money from Search visitors who are likely to bounce anyway.  Chitika Ads may not be huge earners, but you can use them along side AdSense for a little extra $.  Anyways, if you wanted to add them at the end of blog posts or pages, here’s the code to add to your custom_functions.php file.

/* Add Chitika */
function add_chitika () {
?>
<div align=”center”>ADD CHITIKA CODE HERE</div>
<?php
}
add_action(‘thesis_hook_after_post’, ‘add_chitika’);

Replacing Unordered List Bullet

I’m sure there are many ways to do this, but this is how I did it. You may not need the second line of code to pad the left side of the li elements, but I left it as a reference. Replace the URL with a link to your image file.

div#content ul { list-style-image:url(‘/_images/icons/bullet-white.gif’); list-style-position:outside; list-style-type:none; margin-left: 12px; padding:0 0 0 10px; }

div#content ul li {padding-left: 2px;}

Helpful Thesis Resources

http://myblog2day.com/60-thesis-themes-customization-tutorials.php
http://webstudio13.com/2009/10/19/71-best-tutorials-for-thesis-wordpress-theme-users/
http://mattflies.com/tech/100-resources-for-thesis-wordpress-theme-users/

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community
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