Archive for Plugins

Video Tutorial: Installing and using the iThemes Builder Style Manager plugin

This video takes you through the basics of installing and using the iThemes Builder Style Manager plugin, which gives you a simple interface with which to customize colors, fonts and more on your iThemes Builder site. The style manager plugin comes with your purchase of iThemes Builder. You will need to download the Style Manager plugin from your iThemes member panel in order to install it on your site.

Style Manager allows you to affect many different areas of your site, however, it does not touch everything. Learn how to add custom styles to your child theme stylesheet using CSS (which stands for cascading style sheet) code. The beauty of playing with CSS is that if you make a mistake, your site may look funny, but it won’t break completely like it could with editing PHP code (the code WordPress is built in).

Visit this tutorial for guidance with adding custom CSS styles to your theme’s stylesheet.

This tutorial is part of a series of e-courses created by Cat Scholz to empower you with using the self-hosted version of WordPress to achieve your internet marketing goals. Get more information and/or sign up:

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Tutorial: Jetpack for Contact Forms, Stats, Social Sharing Buttons and more

jetpackJetpack is a free and very robust plugin made by the makers of WordPress itself (Automattic, Inc.). It comes with many useful features, giving self-hosted WordPress owners many of the bells and whistles available on the free platform. The most useful features I use on many of my sites are:

1. Secure contact forms (Create a contact page if you don’t have one already & make sure you have added this page to your navigation menu (Appearance–> Menus); Jetpack Contact Forms will be activated by default when you activate the Jetpack plugin. On your Contact page, in the WordPress editor, click the “Add Contact Form” button and go modify your contact form as you see fit; Go to email notifications to change the email address that will receive a notification (by default the notification is sent to the author of the contact page; Insert your form into your page). If you need more direction or support for Jetpack contact forms, visit Jetpack’s support website.

2. Site Stats: Site stats are active by default when you activate the Jetpack plugin. Your stats will appear in your Jetpack dashboard. To turn stats off, go to  Jetpack–>Settings–>Engagement–>Site Stats and toggle the feature to “off.”

3. Social Sharing Buttons (Go to Jetpack–>Settings–>Engagement–>Sharing; Scroll down past Publicize to Sharing Buttons; Click the link to configure your sharing settings; Drag and drop the buttons you want to use at the bottoms of pages and/or posts; Adjust other settings as appropriate; Choose which types of content you want to display sharing buttons on and save your settings). You can then turn sharing buttons off on an individual page/post basis by going into the page editor, scrolling to the bottom of the page and unchecking the box for sharing buttons. For support with sharing buttons, visit Jetpack’s support website.

4. Social Media Blog Sync (Publicize) – Go to Jetpack–>Settings–>Engagement–>Publicize and open up the area to see the link to configure your settings. Connect your social media sites to your blog in a few easy clicks. Read more about using Publicize. I used to use Networked Blogs for this, but Jetpack makes it much easier.

5. Image Hosting (Photon) – Go to Jetpack–>Settings–>Appearance–>Photon to turn this feature on and your images will load from’s content delivery network (CDN). Learn more about Photon. *If you are using a CDN to host your website, such as CloudFlare, do not use Photon because it will create a conflict.

6. Enhanced Distribution for your blog posts – Go to Jetpack–>Settings–>Engagement–>Enhanced Distribution; This feature allows your content to be included in the big wide world of, which increases your exposure – more details here.

There are also some features that I consciously choose to deactivate in the Jetpack settings. One of those is Subscriptions. Because I use AWeber for email marketing, I don’t need the free subscription service Jetpack offers. However, if you want a free and easy way to allow viewers to subscribe to your blog, Jetpack Subscriptions works well.

Just keep in mind, with the jetpack subscriptions feature, the email notifications that go out to your subscribers are branded with the logo and colors, not yours. If you want to brand your blog subscription emails with your logo and styles to match your website, use AWeber.

Read more about why I use AWeber and how to use it for your email marketing plan.

This tutorial is part of a series of e-courses created by Cat Scholz to empower you with using the self-hosted version of WordPress to achieve your internet marketing goals. Get more information and/or sign up:

Checkout Level 1 (free)
Checkout Level 2 (on sale)
Checkout Level 3 (on sale)

Tutorial: WordPress Security

WordPress SecurityWordPress security is a prominent topic since WordPress has become so popular and therefore the target of would-be hackers.

There are some quick and easy steps you need to take to keep your website secure. Fortunately, the free iThemes Security plugin makes it really easy and fast to lock your site down.

Follow these simple steps:

  • Install the free iThemes security plugin from your dashboard. Review my post on installing a plugin if you need a refresher.
  • Find the new Security menu item towards the bottom of the left sidebar of your dashboard.
  • Click on Security Check or Settings.
  • Run the wizard to configure the core settings.

WordPress Security PluginYou may also want to check out the Pro Version for more features.

Here are some of the cool things the free version of iThemes Security can do to secure your WordPress site:

  • Automatically lock out bad users after too many failed login attempts
  • Provide protection from Brute Force Attacks
  • Rename the default ‘Admin’ user account
  • Enforce strong passwords for all accounts
  • Monitor files for unauthorized changes

This tutorial is part of a series of e-courses created by Cat Scholz to empower you with using the self-hosted version of WordPress to achieve your internet marketing goals. Get more information and/or sign up:

Checkout Level 1 (free)
Checkout Level 2 (on sale)
Checkout Level 3 (on sale)

Tutorial: Backing Up

Most hosting plans include backups, but they are usually stored on the same server as your site. What if the server goes down?

Another factor to consider is: how much does your host charge you to restore your site from their backup (if it is accessible)? The cost to restore a site can run anywhere from $75 and up to thousands depending on what is going on with your site.

Ultimately, you need to be in control of your own backups or you need to hire someone for maintenance. BackupBuddy gives you the control you need to restore your site in a “worst case scenario” such as a hack, malware, server failure, bad plugin code or other unfortunate events.

There are 2 parts to fully backing up 
your WordPress site:
1. backup your database (the brains)
2. backup your files (the body – this is where your themes, plugins and media library live)

Backup Buddy will make backing up a breeze! 
It allows you to create an automatic backup schedule that sends backups to a secure, remote destination daily, weekly or monthly. 
And it can help you restore your site if it gets hacked.
 You can also use BackupBuddy to move your site from one server to another – highly recommended!

Once you have obtained BackupBuddy, watch these video tutorials for excellent step-by-step instructions on using BackupBuddy to make a regular backup schedule that sends backups to a secure, remote destination:

Design Portfolio: Featured Content Gallery

This screenshot of Patt Lind-Kyle’s home page shows one of my favorite WordPress add-ons: the Featured Content Gallery (FCG).  This plugin allows WordPress users/designers to add a rotating image gallery to the home page that links to featured blog posts when clicked on.  Here is another WordPress site that uses FCG (

Adding a Featured Content Gallery to an exisiting WordPress site involves designing custom images and associating them with the featured posts.  The total cost for this add-on depends on how many images are requested and ranges from $76-$152.  Ongoing maintenance or changes are billed at my hourly rate of $38.

If you would like to add a Featured Content Gallery to your site, call me at (530) 362-8586 or send an email to cat @

Happy Holidays!


The art of SEO: basic concepts for WordPress users

You’ve probably already heard that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a very important part of your total website marketing plan. Here are the basics concepts as an introduction to SEO:

1) SEO is all about discovering the right keywords people use to search for your products and services on – Google being the top search engine on the internet.

2) If you want to maximize traffic to your website, your first task is to find the best keywords that relate most accurately to what you do or sell (assuming you are good and people need what you have).  Think about this from the perspective of the user.  Suppose you sell vintage jewelry.  Is your customer going to type in, “vintage jewelry” or “1960’s Victorian diamond wedding ring?” and how many people are interested in that particular product?

3) Once you have discovered the best keywords using certain tools, your next task is to use those keywords on your site in the most effective ways to draw visitors to your site using an SEO plugin and tags.

4) Then your next step is to convert your website visits into sales (which is another important marketing topic).

Why spend time on SEO?  If you can get in the top 5 search results in Google, your chances of making a sale go up dramatically.  However, keep in mind that SEO takes time and effort.  According to some experts, doing SEO right takes a minimum of 5 dedicated hours per week.

How does all of this apply to WordPress?  Well, WordPress is naturally SEO-friendly due simply to its permalink structure and the fact that blogs tend to have fresh content, and Google loves fresh content.  And once you’ve done your keyword research and chosen your target keywords, there are certain plugins and themes for WordPress that help with SEO.  Then there are additional SEO techniques for how you use your keywords when you title your pages, write your content, create internal links & external links, who you link to and who links to you.  You can also increase your “link juice” with link brokers and by using trackbacks and pingbacks.  It’s a form of art and science unto itself.  Even the number of characters you use matters.

Those are the basic concepts of SEO.  There is a lot to learn, but if you are serious about optimizing your business with the internet, it would be wise to invest in learning more about SEO.

Fortunately for those of us who have limited time to spend on SEO, there is a free plugin that makes optimizing your posts and pages easy. Watch this video tutorial to learn how to optimize your home page using the free Yoast SEO plugin:

Update to the latest version of WordPress

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This post is for those who maintain their own WordPress site/s (or are employing someone other than myself do it for them).

Recently, I wrote an article about how to backup your WordPress site properly.  If you are not in the habit of backing up regularly, reference that post for more information about backing up and then…

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Mobilize your WordPress site


The dotMobi “Mobile Pack” is an essential plugin for WordPress sites geared for mobile users.  Once installed and activated, this plugin will automatically detect if your site visitor is viewing your site with a mobile device or on a desktop and convert the site view accordingly.

Even if the demographic of those you serve with your business is not technology-savvy, it is still a good idea to make your site as user-friendly as possible.  More and more people are using mobile devices to surf the web every day.  Making your site “mobile-friendly” increases the range of people you can reach with your WordPress site.

Go here to get the plugin: MobilePack

If you would like assistance with installing and configuring this plugin, I can help.

Here to help you make your finest dreams come true,


Back yourself up: The 3 top reasons to back up your WordPress site

Why backup?

1) hosting companies disappear

2) servers crash

3) code gets corrupted

Ok, so I convinced you.  Now if you’re like most people, you’ve got 2 tasks ahead:


To backup your database, use the WP-Database-Backup plugin.  Before I discovered this simple backup plugin, I manually backed up my clients’ databases for them before I upgraded their version of WordPress.  Those of you who have used MySql to backup can imagine how grateful I was to discover a plugin that would do this automatically.  With WP-database-backup, you can schedule an automatic backup with email delivery to yourself or your WordPress manager.

To backup your wp-content folder, use an ftp program like fetch or use your web hosting control panel’s file manager.  Once you’ve copied the wp-content folder to your computer or hard drive, burn your database and your wp-content folder onto a CD-R or DVD disk for storage (remember – hard drives can fail).  Then sleep well at night – you’ve backed yourself up!

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Stats for WordPress: Analytics or WP stats?

One of my clients just asked me if there was a way to see how many people were visiting his WordPress blog each day and my answer is yes!  There are 2 ways I recommend:

1) Google Analytics and 2) stats

Google Analytics is by far the most in-depth, comprehensive stats provider.  It is very useful for when you want to employ search engine optimization techniques.  However, sometimes it’s just TMI (too much information!). stats is a wordpress plugin that gives you the basics in your dashboard – how many visits, keywords people used to find you, the links they clicked on while they were there, etc. Here is a screenshot of my stats since I started my e-newsletter:


Which to use? Both.

Generate and schedule a weekly Google Analytics report to be delivered to your email inbox for the more detailed information – what country visitors are from, how long they were looking at your site, bounce rate, what browser they used, etc.  And add stats to your dashboard to get the basic facts.

If you have found this information helpful, please let me know by leaving a comment on this blog post!

Here to help you make your finest dreams come true,

– Catherine