BlahBlahBabble Creative Geek Geek Love

Blog Clean-Up Day!

Hang on to your hats, things are changing around here!*

I launched the super cool Social Plugin here on my blog – and it didn’t work right. Of course, after I wrote a post about it here. After some debugging, I realized that the comments come in pending moderation from Facebook, so that was easy to fix, but then I discovered that the theme I am using doesn’t display them correctly. At all. I switched themes, it worked just fine. So it is the theme (Adelle from Bluchic, not the plugin. I’m not up to debugging a free theme. (Mainly because I don’t know how. I tried the few things I did know, they didn’t work.) Time to pick a new theme that I know the Social plugin works with.

Then in the quest to figure out why Google is not displaying my authorship correctly, I figured out that it “see” a string of text at the end of my URLs that it considers a redirect to another page. What the what? (Yeah, that was all gibberish to me too.) Not one to be defeated, I realized that in all the years I’ve been on WordPress, I’ve never really cleaned out my Plugins. There are a lot in there that are deactivated, some that I have no clue what they are doing hanging around any more. I’m backing them up as I type this, and as soon as they are gone? There is going to be a Plugin deletefest!

In case you are wondering, this is what the Google situation looks like:

Google thinks I'm redirecting my URL - where are those random characters coming from?
Google thinks I’m redirecting my URL – where are those random characters coming from?

After I clean out the plugins, I’m going to clean out old Themes! Themes that I haven’t used in 7-8 years are probably a good way for some hacker to break in to my site. Those are going today too!

If you check back here in a little bit and everything is blank, upside down, backwards or who knows what? Now you know why. But damn it, I WILL WIN!

* Did I seriously start this post with “hang on to your hats”? Really? Oops. Sorry about that.

BlahBlahBabble Creative Geek

My Comments Just Got SOCIAL! Social Plugin for WordPress from MailChimp Review

Review of the Social Plugin for WordPress From MailChimp

For years, one of my biggest pet peeves was that if I wrote a post here but you commented on Facebook or Twitter about it, those comments were just … LOST. They didn’t all get archived here. It has made me CRAZY.

Somehow, Mike did not know this. So he didn’t tell me when he discovered the Social Plugin for WordPress from MailChimp. I had to find out about it from his blog, as I was migrating the content over to Spoon & Knife, our new food blog.

I may have screamed a lot yesterday when I discovered this plugin. It was sort of the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for me. Ohhhh, maybe that is why Mike didn’t tell me about it? He was holding out for Valentine’s Day so he wouldn’t have to buy me something bigger? I bet that is it. He is such a sweet, thoughtful guy like that! (I gave him a blog all set up at Spoon & Knife for Valentine’s Day, so it is a pretty good trade off!)

Back to the Social Plugin for WordPress! NOW … when you write a comment on my post, you can chose to log in with WordPress, Twitter, or Facebook. If you use the Twitter or Facebook option, you can also post the comment there. Now here is the COOL PART!!! If you comment on this post when I push it to Twitter & Facebook after it is published? Those comments are pulled back in here on my blog! That is what I’ve been waiting for!

I never wanted to use the Facebook plugin – it looks cluttered to me to have both Facebook + regular WordPress comment options on your blog. Which one do I use? You want me to write in the Facebook one (publicity for you, smart move), but what if I don’t have Facebook? Or what if you retweet my post?

Finally, after wishing for it for 6+ years, everything is gathered in one place! I don’t know if you know how GIDDY this makes me!!! (I’m only sad it doesn’t retroactively get comments made on old posts – but we can’t have it all, right?)

NOTE: It does take a little while for the comments on Twitter & Facebook to get scooped up and put on the blog, but they do come over. Just not immediately.

Install the Social Plugin for WordPress from MailChimp and try it out. Write a post, “broadcast” it easily to Twitter & Facebook, and then track and archive the conversation happening about it everywhere. I am absolutely in love with it, and have it on all of my blogs now! (Thanks for the gift, Mike! It is PERFECT!)

BlahBlahBabble Creative Geek

Taming the Email Inbox BEAST!

Ah, email. My Inbox & I have a true love-hate relationship … or at least we used to. Because as much as I *love* getting emails and hearing from people, sometimes there was just too much stuff in there! I wouldn’t even call all of it junk mail, because it really is stuff I want to see. Email lists I’ve signed up for take up space, but I don’t want to read them right away, like my little love affair with CopyBlogger, Kristen Kalp of Brand Camp Blog and Jamie Swanson of The Modern Tog. I refuse to give them up. I just can’t miss anything they have to say!

And then there are the Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest alerts, the coupons, and the just everyday stuff that shows up in the Inbox. It just got to be too much. I wanted to hide and avoid my email – but I couldn’t do that!

Now? Now my Inbox & I are madly & deeply in love again! All thanks to these three quick & easy changes. If you use Gmail, try them out – I want you to love reading email again too!

My first tip is actually one from Jamie of The Modern Tog. In this post of her organizing your email series, she pointed out the most BRILLIANT thing EVER. You can set up a filter in Gmail to sort all of your email subscriptions in to a folder, bypassing your inbox completely! (See love affair noted above.)

She has full instructions on her site, but the main thing you need to know is that in the “Has the words” box, copy and paste the following:

TrueRemove OR unsubscribe OR safeunsubscribe OR SafeUnsubscribe

Since mailing lists are required to include some version of a way to unsubscribe in their emails, those words should pick up almost every email subscription list you’re on! Brilliant, right? I know! *high fives Jamie!* To make it happen, then select “Skip the Inbox” and “apply the label” and select “read“. Then click on “Also apply filter to XXX matching conversations” so that it looks at all your current emails plus all new incoming emails, and click “Create Filter“.

Bam-OH! All of those emails skip your inbox, they are marked as read, and Gmail goes back and moves everything else in to your inbox as well!

My second saving grace has been SaneBox (using that link gets you $5 and me $5, just so you know). SaneBox has a full suite of features to save you time. There is priority filtering, follow up reminders, unsubscribe, defer, social network integration. I went ahead and tried it out because even with all my subscriptions being hidden away in my “To Read Later” folder, I still had a lot of fluff in my Inbox. Not things I wanted to get rid of, but things that weren’t worthy of my immediate attention.

My favorite part? When I hooked it up to my Gmail account, it created a folder called “SaneLater” and everything that isn’t a subscription and caught in the first pass is reviewed by SaneBox. Then, based on what it already knows (ah, the power of computers!) and what it has learned about me from me training it, it pulls out anything that can wait until later. Facebook alerts, sales stuff, whatever! It all magically bypasses my inbox for me!

When I first set it up Friday night, it freaked me out. I thought my email was broken. I suddenly had no emails for over an hour. Wait, what? Oh! There they were in the SaneLater folder! I’ve only been using SaneBox for 5 days now, but it has made my email experience SO MUCH BETTER! SaneBox does cost money after the 14 Day Trial, but really, to have my sanity back? That is a small, small price to pay!

Now I can *finally* do that “only check your email twice a day” thing. I check my Inbox several times a day when I’m available, but I only check my “SaneLater” and my “To Be Read” folders once or twice a day. SaneLater did pick up some things that really should have fallen in my Inbox, but that was ok – as soon as I chose to remove the SaneLater label and move it to the Inbox, it learned that that was what I wanted and has continued to do it ever since!

My third trick? Boomerang! Boomerang has several different features that are pretty cool. Top of my list? Well, as you all know, I’m a night owl some days. I’ll come home from a day full of photo shoots and just not have it in me to sit down and go through my email for a few hours afterwards. But I don’t want clients to always know that I’m writing them at 1am in the morning. With Boomerang, I can write an email at 1am (or 3am *cough*), but schedule it to go out to the client at 9:30 in the morning. Looking like I’m working normal office hours, instead of being always available, always online. This has been one of my favorite features of ShootQ for years, so having it in my Gmail now is fantastic! Boomerang also lets you set an email to reappear in your inbox after a certain amount of time if no one has responded to it – great for reminding you to check the status on something with a client. There are other perks as well, but those are my favorites. Boomerang is free to use for up to 10 emails a month, and after that there are very reasonable plans available as well.

Now if you write me a personal note, I might actually see your email in my inbox and get back to you! Now whether I write you at 1am or not … you’ll never know. *grin*

Do you have any tips and tricks of things I should check out to make my inbox & I love each other even more? Or have you used SaneBox or Boomerang and think there are cool features I should check out? Let me know in the comments!

BlahBlahBabble Creative Geek

CSS Now Causes Minimal Bleeding…

While I still don’t love working with CSS, probably because I only do it a few times a year, I realized while working on the wedding photography site the other day that it now only causes minimal eye bleeding. Oh, it is still there, and I still end up pulling my hair out at some point, but I think it has definitely improved over the years.

I like to think that Tantek, Matt & Eric would be proud…

(I’m quite sure Ann would be proud too – that is her in the wedding photo above – but she is busy being a new mum to one of the cutest babes ever and likely has no time to notice these things.)

Now if only I could figure out how to get drop down menus with hierarchy in there instead of that weird categories menu, I’d be really happy!

Creative Geek

My Tips for a Successful Craft or Art Show…

I was reading over at Jane’s blog yesterday, The Borrowed Adobe looking for ideas for our new house.* She had posted about her hunt for a tent for her upcoming craft show, hopefully her first of many, and when she emailed me today in response to my comment that I left, I decided to share my tips for a successful craft show.

Not because she asked, but just because that is how I roll. (Oops.) After I wrote them all out, I realized that I should share them with all of you in case you foray into the world of craft shows! (These would also apply to art shows, farmers markets, really anything that involves selling things.)

I did my first craft shows in 1999 when I sold soap full time. Let me tell you, there is a CRAZY amount of prep time that goes into a show! Most of those were indoors, as my soaps would have melted outside. I had to prep inventory for every show. It was brutal. Then in 2006, Elaine & I started doing the First Saturday Art Market in the Heights, which was a lot less brutal after the initial prep for the first show or two. We had fun, but that whole Saturday thing eventually caused us some problems when we started photographing more & more weddings.

  • My biggest rule: According to, if you’re not standing, you’re not selling. Stand as much as possible. I bring only a small camping stool so I’m not tempted to sit in the comfy camping chair for too long.
  • Create two-for or three-for specials. People will always buy more. When I sold soap, they were $6 each, 3 for $15. I sold 3 pretty much every time. Any time someone bought one, they always came back and bought the other two.
  • Price for profit!!! This isn’t a charity. You’re not doing this just to have something fun to do all day. You’re there to make money. Make sure to add up *all* of your business costs (booth fees, booth supplies, tents, tables, display items, manufacturing costs, etc) to make sure you’re making money! I’ve seen a lot of people pay for the privilege of being at the market. If you want to do that, just go hang out there.
  • Make friends quickly with the people in the booths around you. Share water, watch each other’s booths for bathroom breaks, get each other food when needed, and to check out what else is for sale. Helps make the day go by faster!
  • Bring change! Small bills & coins too if needed.
  • Personally, I priced at odd prices so that with tax my sales came out to even amounts. I’d rather sell something for $20 with tax included. Makes math easier at the show when things might be moving fast.
  • Bring a friend to help, maybe two or three in shifts. If someone offers to help, take them up on it!
  • Have a smartphone? Get a Square credit card reader if you can, or sign up for a PayPal Virtual Terminal account. People buy more if they don’t have to use their cash!
  • Speaking of credit cards, be sure to factor in that 3% cost to the credit card companies into your price – do NOT tack it on as an extra fee, which is against all credit card companies’ terms of use and you can lose your merchant account! You can give a cash discount with special cards as the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, but do NOT charge extra for taking credit cards!
  • Pack snacks! Bring water! Bring extras to share!
  • Have a change of clothes in case you get sweaty, rained on, spill food or a drink, or the weather changes on you – we had one day that should have been cool end up being super hot, and at one winter craft show there was a 30 degree temperature drop while we were there and we had no heavier clothes. Oops!
  • We kept an emergency kit around – markers, pens, tags for pricing, scissors, and anything else we used when prepping things just in case. We used that kit all the time. (Props to Elaine for our emergency kit!)
  • Use the phone only for taking credit cards or the occasional Twitter/Facebook shout-out encouraging people to come see you at the show. People won’t shop if they can’t talk to you!
  • Save the whining for later! The people shopping at the show don’t want to hear you complain about how slow it has been, how ugly you think someone else’s booth is, how the organizer is horrible, or anything else. They will just keep on walking if they hear you complain and you may have just lost a sale.
  • SMILE!!! (After all, who wants to buy from you if you’re grumpy?)
  • Have any more tips for a successful show? Feel free to share them in the comments!

    * Yes, we are moving! Like how I snuck that in there? We’re buying a house in the HEIGHTS!!! The closing is May 31, 2011. I’ll be sharing more details soon – want to get pictures ready to share too!