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Technology: Upgrading Your Blog Image and Functionality
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I started blogging almost three years ago using Google’s free Blogger. But as much as I love Google, Blogger seemed to be an afterthought for them and was very limited and rarely improved. The more I blogged, the more functionality I wanted and finally decided to move to WordPress (WP).

In the beginning, I used the totally free technology and hosting at WordPress.com. I soon discovered that the scripts/widgets I used on Blogger wouldn’t work with the blogs that WP hosts on their servers. Nor would I be able to add the scripts for the various plug-ins I wanted. I quickly realized that I had to move up to the next level: a WordPress blog from WordPress.org that’s on a paid hosting account.

Consequently, I embarked on the painful process of going from a WordPress blog hosted for free to a WordPress blog hosted elsewhere. It was painful because I had to first figure out how to set up WordPress on the new host. Then I had to FTP all the files to the Web host. After that, I had to learn the differences in how the self-hosted version of WP works.

Once I figured all this out, I had to go through every article I’d written and change all the links to point to the new blog. This was the most painful and too tedious to trust anyone else to do it. (If you know a better way I could have made these changes, please leave a comment to help others.)

My new blog is a work in progress. The following is the process I went through.

Set up new blog to share the server space with my Website (not a sub-Web, but a site that’s totally separate but sharing the same unused space). This way, I didn’t have to purchase another hosting package. (I had already registered the domain, SUITEMinute.com, and it was pointing to the Blogger blog. I changed this later.)

Located a Web host that accepted WordPress blogs. Fortunately, one of my Websites resides on a Linus server and that hosting company was also WordPress-ready. I had to go into the C-Panel of my Web host and use Fantastico to upload WordPress technology to the site. (Update: one of our readers made a video that demos how to do this using something similar to Fantastico. Check it out.)

Uploaded all previous articles to the new blog. I used a free FTP client, FileZilla, to get additional files to the new Web host. (If you’re not sure how to FTP, look at a free trial version of SmartFTP.com because they have a tutorial.) You’ll have to export your posts from the current blog and have them ready to FTP (Whatever blog technology you use should have instructions on how to export. Save the file on your desktop for convenience.) You’ll FTP often with WordPress (every time you add plug-ins, additional themes, etc.)

Registered a domain for the blog (or redirect existing nameservers). I had already registered the domain, SUITEminute.com, for my computer tips blog. This domain was pointing to my Blogger blog and later to the free WordPress blog. I went to my domain registrar and removed the forwarding command and changed the nameservers to that of the new host. While I was there, I registered the SWEETminute.com domain and pointed it to SUITEminute.com. (This way, I don’t have to keep spelling the blog name every time I mention it.)

Selected a WordPress template (theme) that is widget-ready. I like the functionality and “viralbility” that widgets add to blogs so I was keen on using a theme that was already set up for this. WP probably has thousands of themes to choose from. You’ll want to Google (free WordPress templates or themes) when you get ready.

Changed all article links to point to the new blog. Within a lot of my posts, I’d referenced and linked to other articles. Now that the URL for the blog had changed, I had to change all of these links. (After you get accustomed to adding plug-ins, try this one to Find and Replace. I could “Find” suiteminute.blogspot.com and “Replace” with suiteminute.com. This plug-in works through the entire database makes up your blog.)

Added a “move notice” on all old blogs. Instead of deleting the old blogs, I deleted all of the articles on them (because I didn’t want to get in trouble with search engines for having duplicate content). I put a “move notice” on each old blog with a link to the new one.

Changed feeder information for subscribers. I use Feedblitz.com to get my updates out to my subscribers automatically with each new post. The link was pointing to the old blog so all this had to change. I exported my subscribers to a text file. Then I created a new feed but nothing that I tried worked for getting my subscribers connected to it. I ended up sending them an email message asking them to go to my blog and re-subscribe.

Bottom line: if you’re going to become a serious blogger, start out with a hosted WordPress blog so you don’t have to backtrack later. If it gets too overwhelming, seek training (I’m a techie and I needed help). WordPress has training resources on their site, including a forum.

Did you go through a similar process? Let me know of anything else you learned along the way.

-Peggy Duncan, SCORE Atlanta
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I'm a productivity and technology speaker, trainer, author, and consultant. I own The Digital Breakthroughs Institute in Atlanta GA.

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Finance: Equipment Depreciation Bonus
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Compensation vs. Equipment Investment
Some businesses are still flush with cash from the last few years of sales. Are you carrying extra cash in your business? If you are trying to decide between taking compensation and investing in equipment for a good tax deduction. If you’re trying to figure out what’s best for you, Ask SCORE online by posting your question to a finance expert.

Accelerated Depreciation
There is accelerated depreciation available this year 2008 on vehicle and equipment purchases. You may be able to depreciate up to 50% of the value in the first year on your depreciation schedule. Please consult with your CPA on this issue. IRS link on accelerated depreciation rules.

Personal & Business Cash flow Needs
Ask yourself:

1. Do I have a sufficient personal cash reserve about six months living expenses? If no, you may want to take compensation to build your personal cash reserve.

2. Do I have a sufficient cash flow buffer in my business to see the company through uneven sales over the next six-nine months? Make a careful analysis of your sales history and look at projections based on sales +5%, level, -5%, -10%–this gives you a range to clearly see how much cash you need to keep in the business.

3. What is your tax burden? If you aren’t already working with a CPA, get one. Even if you meet just twice a year for planning and have the CPA prepare your taxes–you are taking a proactive approach to proper accouting and tax planning, which can save you money and headaches in the long run.

-Christine Banning, SCORE
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SCORE
For 50 years, SCORE has helped aspiring and current small business owners achieve their dreams. Through a network of over 11,000 volunteer business mentors in 340+ chapters across the country, SCORE connects decades of business experience and knowledge with those who can best use it.
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