Favorite WordPress Shortcodes Plugins

One of the best things about WordPress is that you can easily customize it and there are loads of added bits that you can do to extend how your site works. Tweaking under the hood of a site can be daunting though especially for novices. Thankfully, WordPress has a really great community and there are really awesome choices when it comes to plugins to extend functionality.

Using shortcodes is one of my favorite ways to spice up a website. It a fabulous way to make how you display your content unique. I’m always with the thought that why use an ordinary pickup when you can use dually pickups. The same analogy applies to how I build websites. Here’s a list of some of my favorite Shortcodes Plugins available for WordPress users.

shortcodes

Shortcodes Ultimate – easy to use, clean interface that easily integrates on your writing toolbars and quite extensive help and documentation.

Easy Bootstrap Shortcode – comprehensive, easy and I love the ‘look’ of these shortcodes.

Easy Responsive Shortcodes – lightweight and uncomplicated. I like the integration to the toolbars so its easy to access.

Shortcoder – Custom shortcodes. a bit for intermediate user but novices can easily get the hang of it after going through documentation.

Simple Shortcodes – like the names implies, this one is easily used and works for any theme.

WP Canvas Shortcodes – extensive shortcodes collection with a very minimalist look and feel to it.

WP Shortcode by MyThemeShop – boasting over 24 shortcodes, this is easily useable and doesnt require much technical knowledge to implement.

WordPress Shortcodes – quite beautiful set of add ons to your website.

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Free Web Fonts Embedding Tools

I’m a huge fan of customization. Yes, I don’t like the generic look as you can see I had been almost obsessive about tweaking the look and feel of Android phones. And I’m quite sad I don’t have enough time to do that right now. So the same obsession goes for my web and blog sites. While I may use pre-made layouts and themes to save time, I would always feel compelled to change it up a bit, and give it some of my personality.

While some others don’t want to get down and dirty playing with CSS on themes, one easy tweak I could suggest for personalizing websites is to play with fonts! Its easy enough just as long as you backup your theme’s style sheets first.

Where to find these unique styled fonts? Use free web fonts and embedding service from these two favorites:

Free Webfont Service

Google Fonts – easy to use and I like the layout of the site. So easy to test the look of any text/phrase I want to change. The font inventory is also huge so there’s always one to suit every person’s style.

Free Webfonts Service

Adobe Edge Web Fonts – another free service, powered by Typekit, with huge selection of over 500 fonts. Embedding to website is also just as easy as Google Fonts. I really love the selection on this one. My only con for this service, ‘hard’ to discover fonts coz the layout for font selections is not that easy to navigate and if you are a very visual person and would like to test first your ‘text’ with a particular font, then this might be a bit harder.

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Blogging Tips: Image Optimizing

After managing blogs for awhile now, one of the things I realized is that images make a really nice complement to content/text. It helps break the content, the post becomes more visually stimulating and interesting and it does help tell the story more eloquently. BUT images can also weigh down the blog. Can you imagine if you’re running a blog for years already and uploading images for every post.

That’s bound to slow down your site in time. I’ve discovered two solutions.

  • Use third-party image hosting service like Photobucket etc. and embed the images. My favorite is Imagebam.com, visit website and check them out if you’re looking for image hosting and embedding free service. . There are pros and cons of course to this, of course. Pro is that you won’t be using your host space and a big con is that you don’t have full control over its availability. Remember when Imageshack was always down? So there are chances your images might not be available 100% of the time.
  • Upload to your own server and optimize. This is what I’ve been doing for some of my not too heavy ‘imaged’ sites. Always remember to upload optimized images though so it won’t use up too much space on server.

Here’s some of my favorite image optimizer WordPress plugins you can check out. Also read on this excellent article – A Guide to Optimal Image Compression in WordPress.

 

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On Blogging: Updates, Goals, Earning

We’re halfway past 2014 already! Can you imagine how fast time really flies?

On the blogging front, things are okay for me although I wish I could get on with projects I have that are on the backburner and also update more regularly on my current blogs. Alas! That’s not to be. This past three months had been very hectic for me. Why? I’m a new mommy!

So yes, that is my priority right now and for next couple of  months. Blog posting is of course on the backseat.

Since I’m not updating much and also I’m slowly weaning away my blogs from paid reviews posts, earnings had been down for the past three months, which I expected. But I’m still happy coz as long as the sites are up, I still get passive income from Adsense and also surprisingly from my affiliate promotions. In fact, the past two months, my affiliate earnings from Amazon is higher than Adsense and I expect that to be on the same trend since Christmas is soon to come.

As for goals, well, I decided to be a bit moderate in my online work goals, after all I do have a lot in my plate right now. So as long as I can update the sites for at least twice a month then I’ll be okay.

I’m hoping when the little one is already a toddler, I could get back to my regular pace. Till then..

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Easy Global Payments with Payoneer

Are you an affiliate marketer? A blogger? Or perhaps you do a lot of online transactions? 

Here’s something that is making things really easy for me, when it comes to receiving payments online: Payoneer Prepaid Debit MasterCard Card.

It offers a lot of convenience for those always transacting online. As for me, I’m a blogger and affiliate marketer and I receive some of my affiliate commissions on my Payoneer.  There are several advantages to this:

The main reason I applied for a Payoneer Prepaid Debit MasterCard Card was to receive my affiliate commissions. Before this, I usually receive payments by check. And you know how long that takes especially if you are living outside of US. But with Payoneer, it just takes a few days and I have the payments in my account.

How I Applied for My Payoneer MasterCard Card?

There are two ways to apply for a Payoneer Card. (1) Apply directly to Payoneer or (2) Via a Payoneer partner (ie. Freelancer, Odesk, Infolinks, Elance, Fiverr, Clickbank, 2CheckOut etc).

Payoneer has some very reputable partners. I was contemplating applying through my Freelancer.com or Odesk accounts, but in the end decided against it because I rarely use this sites nowadays. So I went directly and applied for my card on the Payoneer website.

The sign up was a breeze. After completing the application, I was sent a confirmation email. After a few days, I received email instructions for verification. I was asked to send a scanned copy of an ID and proof of billing. A day after, I got an email confirming my application was approved and I will be receiving my Payoneer card via mail in a few weeks.

After waiting a couple of weeks, I got this! My Payoneer Prepaid Debit MasterCard Card.

Applying for Payoneer MasterCard

Now I’m quite happily receiving my Amazon and ShareaSale commissions on my Payoneer Card.

>>You can sign up for your very own Payoneer MasterCard here. You can also get $25 when you refer friends and they apply for their own Payoneer Card.

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On Blogging: Server Overloading and Cron Problems with A Plugin

This week, I had one of my hosted accounts go on server overload. It was a bit puzzling for me as the sites were well maintained, the databases I always clean up and optimize. So I figured something must have gone wrong when my webhost told me the problem was multiple cron executions.

Which made me say duh?! I haven’t set up any cron jobs on the wordpress sites except for the default cron jobs initiated by the CMS. So I then installed cron manager plugin to see what are the cron jobs scheduled and which plugin could be causing the endless line of cron jobs.

That turned out to be an inspired idea. The culprit was a gallery plugin and with the cron manager plugin I installed, I managed to delete the cron jobs lined up. I also removed the plugin to be sure.

If you are running an exceptionally high number of cron jobs and you have no idea where its coming from, Advanced Cron Manager or FFF Cron Control can really be a big help to pinpoint which ones are causing problems.

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Easy htacess Redirect Code

I’ve moved websites several dozen times already. And usually they are WordPress blog sites and on same domains. So its simply a server/host move.  And I didn’t have to be bothered to learn about redirects for changed URL’s. For me, these has become even something like a routine.

But, its a bit of a different story when it comes to moving a site to another domain name. I’ve only done this a few times. And aside from the actual moving of the site to where you are hosting the new domain, you also have to make sure that your old domain redirects to the new domain.

Of course, you don’t want to lose traffic right? I am also of belief that this helps in search engine indexing. I’ve also realized that the usual 301 redirects found on cpanels works on the main url but on sub posts/pages it often does not. So I had to dig in for more .htaccess code to use to ensure that all my old url’s would redirect to the new url’s. This is specially crucial for blogs with hundreds if not thousands of pages. You won’t want to leave leaving your readers searching in a huge pile if you just redirect to the main URL.

I found this code works really best:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http:/newdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

It would redirect every single old URL to the exact new URL, so everything would be seamlessly redirected for your readers. You just need to navigate to where your .htaccess file is on your old domain (if you don’t have one, then just create one), then paste above code, then save.

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I Said Sayonara

Nah. This is not a weepy post. I simply liked the word ‘sayonara’ and that’s exactly what I did with my old web host. I said, goodbye.

To be honest I should have done this since last year, but as usual I was either procrastinating and I was really busy. Midway this year, I got myself a reseller hosting account and transferred almost all my domains there.

But for some reason I still maintained the old hosting account. I know it was not a sound business decision, but I was being paranoid. So I ended up paying for two more months of hosting.

This week though I decided to go and finish the move. I transferred the last remaining site, and just today, I cancelled my old hosting subscription. And guess what, I feel totally liberated. Hahaha. I know it sounds crazy. But I totally feel like I deserve a nice reward. Not really a bad idea since I’ll be saving loads from hosting fees from now on.

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New Clean Look

I just realized two things.

One. I love white, clean, minimal layouts. I find it easier on the eyes. And I’d like to think readers also find it easier to navigate and less stressful on the eyes.

and Two. I like revamping the site theme when my blogging mojo is down. And that’s how I’ve been feeling the past few weeks. I’ve been building and editing some other sites that I really didn’t have the energy to keep up with this blog. And to be honest, how a site look and feel really has a huge influence on how enthusiastic I am to  update it.

I know its weird, but not really as weird as if I start blabbering about apricot pits here, noh? So yes, I changed blog theme and went back to one of my favorite themes of all time. The site is sporting the Genesis Theme. The framework one, with just a few minor tweaks with text and images.

And I find it nice, very calming. Plus, it makes me want to blog. So more updates coming up!!

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More Alternatives to Adsense

A year ago, one of my sites got the dreaded Google Adsense suspension saying it cannot display ads because I’m showing copyrighted content. Which totally bummed me because that site is where I share my graphic design work for digital scrapbookers. Everything was made from scratch. I guess that pissed me enough to not bother appealing that ‘verdict’.

Alternatives to Google Adsense

So I searched for alternatives to Adsense. And yes there are plenty and some very good ones at that. I ‘m listing it out here. I’m leaving out CPC networks already mentioned in most listings for alternatives to Adsense, but instead I’m sharing some not so known ones but performing very well.

  • Media.net – Yahoo’s answer to Adsense. Serves contextual ads and works really great for a lot of website owners. Its somehow stricter when it comes to approving sites, but its worth the hassle. 
  • Burst Media – offers CPM advertising from brand advertisers.
  • Pulsepoint –  ad-exchange program where you set the price.
  • Lijit – an ad network helping ‘publishers engage and understand their readers’
  • RivitMedia – a highly specialized ad network for crafting and DIY specialists.

I personally only have limited experience to Media.net which is really good. But for the other ad networks listed, I’m all set to try it out since I’ve heard positive things about it as well. The thing with blogging and monetizing blogs, it really helps to diversify and try different ad networks that fits right to your niche.

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