When you have a Google question, Matt Cutts’ videos can be very useful.
Remember to look for what he says… as well as what he doesn’t say.
Curation is a good way for you to add content to your website, and — if you’re a content creator — a great way to get syndicated.
There have been two barriers to curation:
1. Popular misunderstandings about what curation is. Unfortunately, many get-rich-while-you-sleep marketers are defining curation as autoblogging with keywords… and other people’s content.
Curation is finding the best and most noteworthy content in your niche, and sharing it — and your thoughts about it — with your readers. It’s like saying, “Look what I found, and here’s why you need to know about it.” Your knowledge of the niche is an essential ingredient. So are your comments about each article (or video, or book, or podcast, etc.) that help your readers understand why it’s worth their time to consider whatever-it-is.
2. Adequate and convenient tools to use when you’re collecting and curating content. Right now, the only tool I recommend is CurationSoft. (That is an affiliate link. It’s a product I use so often, it’s on my computer’s taskbar.)
Today, I stumbled onto two tools that may be useful, whether you’re looking for content to curate, or you have content to share with other websites.
Curate.us is a browser add-on. I allows you to curate (copy and add your comments) using screenshots or text that you choose. The result is branded with the Curate.us logo and link, but the convenience of this — being able to curate, on-the-fly, as you browse — could be worthwhile.
It won’t substitute for a tool like CurationSoft, but it’s handy enough to test, to see if Curate.us is right for you.
- The plugin makes it easy for people to grab content from your website and include entire articles at their sites.
- The Repost.us website makes it easy to find fresh, relevant content to consider for curation. And, as a content creator, it gives you another platform for exposure, backlinks, syndication, and so on. Think of it as a variation on the eZineArticles concept, mixed with CSS.
The plugin looks good, but I’m going to test it before recommending it. Meanwhile, here’s what I’m looking at, in terms of good and bad aspects.
- Use of the content requires agreement to your website’s unique license. (Creative Commons options are included in the stock license.)
- The content that appears on other sites is always the most current version of that post, article, graphic, or whatever.
- Ease-of-use increases the likelihood that people will repost your content on their own websites, on social media, and so on.
- The content is fed directly from your website, in real time, to the site that’s using it. If it’s a graphic-intensive post, that could be a hefty burden for your server. That’s not just about bandwidth costs, but also whether lots of hits via Repost.us could slow down your website’s response.
- Describing that feature, Repost.us makes a big deal about duplicate content, which shows that either they don’t fully understand the issue… or they’re assuming their website visitors don’t know the difference between duplicate content and syndication.
- All of the content carries a logo and backlink to Repost.us.
I’m not sure if there are competitive products. Frankly, I haven’t been looking for them. However, I stumbled onto these today, and thought they looked good enough to mention.
Google is changing, more rapidly than we’ve seen in the past. Some of the changes make sense, shutting down services that weren’t popular enough. Some are a little confusing, like the number of AdSense accounts closed without explanation or recourse.
Other changes — like closing their iGoogle RSS feeder — seem odd, since I never saw them even try to monetize iGoogle.
My RSS feeds, page by page, tell you exactly what interests me. It’s a very clear profile of who I am and which ads I’m likely to respond to.
Why not make use of that instead of cancelling the iGoogle page that’s my computer homepage? Could you at least try it, before making this kind of change?
This may all be part of the global chess game being played by Apple and Google. Frankly, if CNBC and others are right, Google could be very busy and need all of its resources for the challenges ahead.
Some of us looked at how Google acquired its Motorola properties and scratched our heads. Really…? Motorola…?
Then, Apple went after Samsung’s use of hardware, when targeting the software was a vastly easier case to win.
CNBC hosts and guests, in some offhand remarks, brought several things to light.
If you go back to early Internet and PC history, it’s difficult to figure out who “borrowed” which technologies, and from whom. There’s a lot of “chicken or the egg?” involved, with Apple, IBM, and Motorola among the early players.
Then there were the early meltdowns of partnerships that had started as friendships, so legal boundaries were never clear.
So, for the case of speculation, let’s pretend that Apple borrowed ideas from Motorola, and then Google borrowed from Apple. If Apple sues Google, how much clout do the Motorola properties give Google for a countersuit? (Rhetorical question. All of this is highly speculative, based only in my imagination, and only mentioned as an example of how murky this could get.)
My point is not a legal one. I’m not an attorney and, frankly, I know just enough law to be dangerous in some arenas.
Here’s what you need to think about: If Google’s resources are focused on the copyright case that (if CNBC is right) Apple may be leading up to, and depending on the outcome… well, I wouldn’t put all my eggs in one income source, right now.
I wouldn’t dump AdSense or my iTunes income stream, but I’d make diversifying a high priority, over the coming months.
My best advice? Never put all your eggs in any basket, including Kindle, FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon), Clickbank, or anything that gurus are touting as a “sure thing.”
Your websites are virtual real estate. People have been saying that for years. Your websites are an investment. They’ll grow, usually slowly, into something you can depend on… but only if — like most smart investors — you diversify.
I’m not telling you to spread yourself all over the universe, doing 20 different things. Instead, I suggest focusing on three or four different sources of income, and then find a way to integrate them.
One basic model might include one pay-per-click program like AdSense, one product review program like Amazon Affiliates, and your own product (an app, a Kindle book, a WSO or a Clickbank product).
Another, different (not additional) model might be building websites with Clickbank affiliate links and AdSense ads, and selling them at Flippa or at your own storefront website.
Yet another, different (not additional) model could be a site with a Kindle book, an app, and some Commission Junction affiliate ads/links.
You get the idea. I could fill pages with the mix-and-match options.
Start with one income source like AdSense or Kindle or whatever appeals to you, learn the ropes, and then — when it’s set up and running — add the next. Stop at four different income streams. (Many people should probably stop at three.)
What’s key as we watch the Apple v. Google chess match being played, is not to put your eggs in any one basket. If you’ve already lost an AdSense account, or your favorite smaller affiliate program closed, don’t cry yourself to sleep. This kind of shuffle will become more routine as the Internet grows and changes.
The Apple v. Google game may take years. Don’t look for a quick outcome. No matter how the court cases play out, there are appeals and more appeals. Nobody knows where this will conclude.
As an individual, diversify. That’s important if you’re an investor and, for most people, websites are an investment. Treat them with the same objectivity and respect you’d treat your stock portfolio, keep an eye on business changes, and made gradual — not sudden — changes when the tides shift.
Google seems to be changing the ranking game.. again. If you were relying on an exact-match product name to secure an above-the-fold listing at Google, think again.
Google describes the change as a “delightful shopping experiences for consumers in close partnership with merchants.”
In a nutshell: Google is claiming more of its above-the-fold real estate. When you search for a product-related phrase, almost everything you’ll see — unless you scroll down — will be paid ads.
What it means for website owners: Unless your website is among the paid inclusions (meaning: you’ve bought ad space), or your website is #1 for that product or kind of product, your Google listing will appear below the fold. You know, the range where it’s so quiet, all you hear are crickets chirping.
The headlines are dire:
- Forbes.com explains How Evil are Google’s New Paid Shopping Search Results? As Anthony Wing Cosner explains, “Google will position itself as a collector of a tithe on all commerce that flows through it.”
- SEO Book shows you the bad news — in the form of a heatmap — at their article, Google Paid Inclusion Programs: Buy a Top Ranking Today. They said it well, “The issue of the incredibly shrinking organic result set is something that can’t be over-emphasized. For many SEOs the trend will absolutely be career ending.” If you want your product-related website or webpage to attract traffic via Google, SEO won’t matter; just buy your spot above the fold.
- And, in a short but to the point article, TrafficPlanet.com said it all in their headline, Google all set to kill the SEO business.. at least for ecommerce sites and amazon affiliates.
Where does that leave people like you and me, who don’t want to spend money on ad space at Google?
For a long time, I’ve been talking about the importance of content at your affiliate websites. Frankly, you want to be such a great resource, you’re able to bypass search engines altogether. You already have fans who never miss your latest article or review, and follow your website via RSS or email. And, when you post something especially good, they tell their friends (via Web 2.0 sites) about you… with a link.
This means that you can’t rely wholly on autoblogging, no matter how sweet they make that sound at places like the Warrior Forum. You absolutely, positively must build a solid reputation for unique, valuable and original content.
And, if you’re relying on SEO to make you the one-and-only site appearing above the fold when someone searches at Google for a product or a kind of product… forget it. You can no longer build your business on that concept. Google is stacking the deck against you. They may say the new listings format will enable shoppers to learn more about the product and then “buy it from their merchant of choice.” However, Google is making pretty darned sure that “merchant of choice” is a business that’s paid to become the shoppers’ choice.
The thing is, shoppers aren’t stupid. As Forbes’ Kosner said, “if consumers feel that the results that are returned are not necessarily the best deals and are there for purely commercial reasons, they may begin to look suspiciously at all of the new structured data displays that Google is rolling out.” (emphasis added)
If you’re thinking the game is entirely under the thumb of Google, think again. Remember the 1990s, when we thought Yahoo would always be the #1 search engine?
Yes. It’s like that.
After the recent privacy changes at Google, many people switched to the anonymity, clean lines and friendliness of Duck Duck Go. Bing is also rolling out some hard-core competitive advantages, to attract more visitors to their search engine.
The more Google becomes visibly commercial, the more searchers will feel uneasy about Google’s search results.
Stop investing in SEO aimed at Google. In fact, if you’re thinking of SEO first and your visitors’ experience second (or third, or lower) when you’re adding to your website, stop… full stop.
To paraphrase your grandmother: If you can’t say something meaningful and worth your visitors’ time, don’t say anything at all.
Affiliate sites can still succeed. They’re just less likely to succeed if they’re all about making money and not about creating enthusiastic, loyal fans. Seth Godin and others have been saying this kind of thing for years.
If your business model depends on manipulating and gaming Google to achieve above-the-fold positioning for products by name, it’s time to change your business model. Big time.
Affiliates: Quit aiming all of your website efforts at ranking well for “buyers’ keywords.” (You know, phrases that include terms such as: buy, cheap, best prices, reviews, purchase, bargain, compare, and discount.)
Remember, if people are searching for something that isn’t a “buyers’ keyword,” you’re less likely to be competing with paid shopping results. That’s where to invest your efforts.
Sure, click-through rates are far lower if you’re not targeting buyer keywords. If you can’t compete for the #1 spot using buyers’ keywords, the point is moot. Aim for the traffic you can get.
Likewise, if you’re aiming for long-tail keywords (even buyer keywords) that have little or no competition, you can still rank well; there won’t be any paid shopping results between you and the top of the page.
But, all in all, it’s time to bail from the whole autoblogging, SEO-for-product-name nonsense.
Create good content. Create lots of good content. You can still build your websites around affiliate links, just don’t waste your time making them the sole focal point of your work.
Rank well as an authority in your niche. Know your topic. Write great articles. Keep your readers current with real curated content from all around your niche. Include superb reviews that your readers trust, and — in those reviews — include your affiliate links.
Remember when you were in high school and you used to go to the library to do research? Everyone knew that was code for “hang out with your friends,” but you probably did some research there, too.
The Internet is the new library. Become one of the friends people want to hang out with. Make your website the cool place to be.
Let Google shoot itself in the foot. They’re losing major trust points with searchers as Google’s commercial interests push out meaningful search engine results.
You’re going to be fine, as long as you shift your focus to content, and become a resource people trust for recommendations more than they trust Google.
Hey, the way things are going, that’s not going to be difficult.
WordPress security is growing in importance. If you’re not using security measures with your website, you should be. Start right away.
Every day, I receive emails like this one, telling me that yet another person (or robot) tried to access my websites using the login name “Admin.”
I never take it personally. That same IP number tried to access a wide range of my sites last night, not just sites readily identified with me. Also, that IP number shows up regularly in these alerts. It might be the hacker’s real IP number, it might be a proxy, or it might be an innocent person’s IP number, “borrowed” by the hackers (or, more correctly, crackers).
In all likelihood, software is cycling through domain names at a high speed, looking for a site with a username of “Admin.” Not long ago, a news report claimed that more than 60% of website owners keep the default username of “admin” to log into their sites. It’s a very bad idea.
Simple WordPress Security Measures
First, always have a current backup of your website. I use (and rave about) WP-Twin for that, but you could use Flip Me Clone (about 1/4 the price), or you can get by with the free WordPress plugin, WP-DB Manager. In the settings for WP-DB Manager, be sure it emails you a full copy of your website’s database (that’s where your articles actually are) weekly, or more often if you update your site more than once a week.
Next, change your WordPress login username if it’s currently “Admin” or if it’s the same as the name that appears on your articles or on your “About” page.
In WordPress, this means:
1. Create a new user (in your WordPress dashboard, at Users > Add New). Make sure to assign that new user the role of Administrator.
2. Then, log out of your WordPress dashboard.
3. Log in with your new username and password.
4. Delete the old user account, and attribute all the old username’s posts & links to your new username. That’s important. Otherwise, you’ll lose all of your old posts, etc.
5. Confirm deletion (as shown in the screenshot, above).
6. Be sure your screen name is NOT the same as your login name. Otherwise, you’re giving crackers 50% of the information they need to hack into your WordPress account. I often use “Admin” or “webmaster” to throw people off, unless I really want my articles associated with another name for PR & marketing reasons. But, that’s still never the same as my login name.
7. Have a guess-proof password for your WordPress login. It shouldn’t be any word someone could find in a normal dictionary. In fact, it’s best if it’s 12+ characters long and includes letters, numbers, and characters. If you need help with this, you’ll find free password generators online. Click here for one of them.
8. Install the free WordPress plugin, Limit Login Attempts. In “Settings,” you might want to choose something more limited. On most of my sites, just one lockout means the IP number is locked out for a minimum of 24 hours, and usually 72 hours. I also ask WordPress to notify me every time there’s a lockout.
9. Install the free WordPress plugin, Secure WordPress. In “Settings,” I usually make sure the error message won’t be seen at login. Then, if someone is trying to hack into the site, they won’t know if they failed to guess the login username, the password, or both.
10. Do NOT panic and throw money at all kinds of security when you start receiving emails telling you that several attempts were made to log into your website. Most of the truly useful security plugins are free and available at WordPress.org. My favorites include Bulletproof Security and WP Firewall 2. (But remember: They only work if you activate them and follow their instructions to set up the security measures.)
As I said earlier, I receive security email alerts every day. It’s just part of maintaining a website; robots will try to access your website. It’s nothing personal and it doesn’t mean you’re under deliberate and focused attack.
You probably wouldn’t leave your home unlocked when you leave for work. You probably wouldn’t leave your keys in your car when you’re out shopping.
Likewise, a few simple security measures can remove yours from the easiest websites to hack.
Stay calm and carry on. This is all in a day’s work if you have a website, and — by taking these WordPress security steps — you don’t have to lose sleep at night.
“Fresh content” is a new buzzword among the loophole crowd. Well, hey, it always seems like people are trying to fool Google with plugins and sneaky website tactics. At the moment, they’re trying to make old articles look fresh and updated, without actually adding relevant new content.
Big yawn. It looks like the Internet version of “mutton, dressed as lamb.”
Seriously, my stomach lurches when I see someone selling something that’s designed specifically to make Google (and other search engines) think one thing is going… when it’s actually just smoke and mirrors. Some of them are simply stupid. Others are downright dangerous for your ranking, as soon as Google spots the ruse.
The newest snake oil involves tools to make articles look fresher than they actually are. After all, talking about April 2012 Google algorithm changes, Matt Cutts said, “We try to promote content that appears to be fresh.”
I predict: Fake “freshness” will be the hot new plugin focus. (I hope it’s a short-lived trend.)
The plugins I’ve seen so far are simply adding blurbs from your recent articles to your older posts. I’m expecting additional plugins that draw “curated” blurbs from other sites, or RSS snippets, etc., and add them to old posts so they might look fresher.
In my opinion, that’s low quality “fresh content.” I heartily recommend against buying any product that’s scraping content or spinning anything so your old posts might look like you updated them.
Google isn’t stupid.
At InsideSearch.blogspot.co.uk, you’ll see exactly what Matt Cutts has said about freshness cues and how they affect an article’s ranking at Google. I recommend browsing that entire article for the April 2012 search engine updates.
Mr. Cutts specifically said, “We have modified a classifier we use to promote fresh content to exclude fresh content identified as particularly low-quality.” (Emphasis added.)
Why spend time and money trying to fool Google? Is it really worth the short-term gains? Have you so little respect for your websites and your website visitors, that you’d try to lure them to an outdated article with fake “fresh” content?
If an article is still relevant, people will find it and link to it. You don’t need to try to deceive search engines.
If an article is outdated, maybe it doesn’t deserve to rank well among fresher articles on the same topic. Either update it with good, unique, fresher content, or accept that some older articles won’t rank as well as fresher, better ones will.
From my viewpoint, if people put as much time into adding meaningful content to their websites as they spend trying to fool Google, they wouldn’t have to fool Google. They’d have a genuinely useful, valuable website that ranks well.
So, before you open your wallet to the next scarcity tactic like “buy this before the price goes up at the Warrior Forum/Clickbank/JVzoo,” pause and decide if you really want to start down that “let’s fool Google” path.
Short-term, it may lead to more visitors and income. Theoretically, if you hop from one loophole product to the next, you can keep this game going for a long time.
Or, one of these loophole tactics or products could send your entire website empire to Google’s outer darkness. Is it worth that risk? For high-rollers with thousands of websites maintained by dozens of sweatshop outsourcers… maybe.
For anyone with integrity, who wants to weather any quality filters Google throws at them…? Not a chance. Quality wins, period and full stop.
If you want an older article to look fresher, update it to include the latest information. That’s authentic. That’s what earns the respect of your visitors, and promotes you to the rank of authority.
I won’t be buying plugins that provide fake “freshness” cues to search engines, and I won’t be selling websites that include those plugins.
My advice is to keep building your high-quality websites the old fashioned way: With useful content, updated to remain useful to repeat and new visitors.
In March 2012, I posted an article, Never Interrupt Plugin Updates. The tips in that article are still important, but — thanks to Hostgator support — I now know what to do if my backup isn’t current, and I’m stuck in Maintenance mode due to a stalled update.
It’s so simple, I’m embarrassed to admit this: All you need to do is delete the .maintenance file you’ll see in File Manager or in your FTP screen. That gets you past the Maintenance roadblock. (Of course, check with your hosting service first, in case they use a different system during site updates.)
Then, you can create a full backup of your current site. (I still recommend WP Twin. I can’t imagine running websites without it.)
Unfortunately, your work is not yet complete. You still need to update your WordPress installation and/or your plugin updates… the same ones that caused the stall in the first place.
Tech support recommended updating from the main plugins screen (not the Update screen), and update the files one-by-one. (This means most remote updates — from a single control panel — may not be a good idea. Don’t abandon the convenience of that, if it’s working for you. However, if your updates stall and you’re stuck in maintenance mode, you may have to update the old-fashioned way, plugin-by-plugin and site-by-site.
You may still hit snags. If you can’t seem to fix the problem, don’t waste time; contact your hosting service immediately. Do not leave your site unprotected!
When updates are issued — whether by WordPress or a plugin developer — those updates may fix security problems in older versions. Years ago, I used to recommend waiting until the bugs were worked out of updates, before installing them. Today, by the time the updates are released, it’s almost too late: You may have been at risk for days or longer.
So, I no longer postpone updates on my websites. I urge you to update your sites whenever a security patch is issued, as well.
The worldwide web is constantly changing, and those changes are arriving at a faster pace every day. It’s vital to stay current, and to know answers to the “what if” questions when they occur.
If you’re stuck in that maintenance screen, the answer might be to manually delete the .maintenance file.
Many of the websites I sell are based on Artisteer themes. I love Artisteer for designing unique websites!
However, after I sell a site, my client or customer may want to change the header graphic, or the text on it, or something.
In the past, it was easy to replace the header.jpg in the theme’s /images/ folder. In the newest version of Artisteer, it’s not quite so easy.
It took me a few hours of trial-and-error to see what works and what doesn’t. I have a solution, and it’s pretty easy, even for a beginner.
Here are my results.
This only works well if your original header image has squared (right angle) corners. That’s why all of my newest sites include a theme version with squared corners, and the graphics you’ll use to customize the header.
First, you’ll want to change the header image in any graphics program like Photoshop, or you can use something like Paint.net, or Gimp (at Gimp.org).
Then, you’ll upload the new graphic in your website’s File Manager or through FTP. Place the image in your theme’s /images/ folder.
Next, open your WordPress dashboard. Go to Appearance > Editor > style.css. (That’s the file that’s usually open when you go to Appearance > Editor.)
Scroll down to the section that controls the HeaderObject. Replace the header-object.png file name with the name of the new header image, and click to save the changes.
Note: Be sure you’re in the right section — where it talks about HeaderObject, not just Header — and you’re replacing the URL for the header-object.png, not the header.png.
Then, check your website to see how it looks.
Everything should be fine.
If you see no header image at all, or it’s still your original header image, double-check your code, first. That’s usually where the problem is.
If your new header shows up, but it’s kind of ugly, you may need to tweak the image. That’s up to you.
That’s the entire process.
However, if you’re starting with a theme that has a curved header design… well, I think you’ll change it to squared corners.
I may have overlooked something as I tested this. If you know something I didn’t think of, please leave a comment or contact me.
Curved header graphics.
The one really big challenge can be a curved header image. This isn’t easy to explain, but I’ll give it my best effort.
If your header has square, right-angle corners, you can save the image in any format: JPG, GIF, or PNG. Usually, a JPG will reduce to the smallest file size (for fastest site load), but you’ll need to check that for yourself.
If your header has rounded corners, your image will need to match that shape, using transparent areas. That means a GIF or a PNG, not a JPG.
The problem is, if your header is a photo or it has a lot of gradients in it, a GIF can look hideous and a PNG can be a massive, slow-loading file.
So, if I absolutely, positively must change the header image, I make an entirely new theme with the new graphic… or I change the header so it has pointy corners.
Here’s an example, if I don’t create a new theme.
The original header looked like this:
As you can see, the corners of the header image (at the top) are curved. It’s a PNG, and — frankly — a pretty large one.
Note: If you’re trying to reduce the load time of your website, you might consider changing your header image just to reduce its size. The ideal graphic size is under 50kb.
I tried to create a GIF or PNG I was happy with. The results weren’t good enough for me.
The screenshot on the right show how one side of the header graphic looked, in the original theme.
Here’s what to notice: The top left corner is rounded. The base of that image lines up perfectly with the corner of my navigation (menu) bar. (That’s the maroon bar, where you can see the start of the word “home.”)
To change the header graphic without creating an entirely new theme or using a huge PNG, I had to give up both of those design features.
At the left, you can see what the same area looked like, with the modified header image.
The rounded corners are now squared. The graphic extends slightly outside the sheet area, and doesn’t quite align with the navigation (menu) bar.
I’m only pointing this out so you aren’t surprised if your revisions look like this, too.
I’m a purist, so that makes me flinch a little. However, most visitors don’t know the original design had rounded edges at the top. And, even if they did, I’m not sure they’d care one way or the other about the changes.
So, if you’re using a theme based on Artisteer, that’s how to change the header without rebuilding the theme from scratch.
My future PLR themes will have square corners, to keep this simple. (For the “Girl Gets Ring” series, I’m adding an extra theme with a square-cornered version of the header.)
One final note: Several people mentioned WP plugins that can change headers automatically, especially Dynamic Headers plugin. Unfortunately, that plugin is out-of-date, and it refers to a file name that’s not used in most themes.
All in all, it’s not difficult to change the header in an Artisteer theme.
Then again, if you own Artisteer, you can make any changes you like by tweaking the theme in the Artisteer software.
If you don’t, here’s all you do:
1. Create the header image you want.
2. Add it to the /images/ file in your theme folder, via File Manager or FTP.
3. Change the style.css (in your WordPress dashboard) replacing the old header image name with the new one.
This is edited from a post I made at the Warrior Forum, this morning. It’s about free and royalty-free graphics.
Regarding the legal questions: I’m not a lawyer, so the following is simply my opinion.
There are three kinds of “free” images you can use.
1. Public domain images. Under US law (generally enforced, globally), that means images from before 1923, or more recent images that let their copyrights lapse. Researching the latter can be tangled and, if you’re not well-versed in copyright law, I recommend consulting an attorney who specializes in copyright law.
2. Royalty-free images. These include “copyleft” images, graphics under Creative Commons licensing, and any image where the copyright holder says you can use the images at no charge.
The creator of those images has not given up his or her copyright. That’s important. So, most artists & photographers require a copyright notice, his or her name, and sometimes a link back to his or her site. (I like to do that, anyway, even if it’s not required.)
3. Current images that have been released as public domain. This includes images that were created after 1922, and perhaps far more recently. The creator of the image (photo or artwork) says that he or she is donating it to the public domain. He or she can say that, but in actual legal terms… well, he or she may not be allowed to do that, depending on the laws where the graphic was produced and used.
This includes clipart, even if you’ve seen it all over the Internet. You might win your case if challenged in court, but can you really afford the legal expenses in the meantime?
So, you may want to protect yourself with a dated screenshot of the illustrator’s copyright release, in case that’s ever questioned.
Other legal issues
- In some countries, including the US, you cannot use photos of some people or even certain buildings, without written permission from the subject. For example, in the US, most (not all) buildings built after 1990 are protected by copyright law. [Reference]
Generally, you can use royalty-free images on sites you own, personally. The vast majority of “free, royalty-free images” sites seem to offer those generous terms.
It’s different if you plan to use the images in anything that changes hands, even if it’s free: Reports, Kindles and ebooks. When something changes hands, that can be considered “distributing” the images.
That’s especially true for anything you sell (websites, themes or templates, PLRthat includes images, or printed materials of any kind including buttons, tee shirts, posters, mousepads, etc.).
If you’re starting to wonder where your Fiverr header graphics guy got his images, or your wonderfully cheap outsourced ebook creator got her illustrations… yeah, you might want to worry. You might also want to start asking for the URLs where those images came from, and what licensing was included.
There’s a lot that goes into copyright law. Personally, I use free images from sites that are crystal clear about the rights they offer.
On websites that I’m selling, I generally rely on graphics I’ve purchased. This is especially true for my Shiny Websites sites and my 10 dollar websites site. For them, I double- or triple-check the rights for every graphic I use in my header designs.
Usually, for use on themes and templates that I’ll sell, licensing fees start at $40 – $50 for each picture… and climb rapidly. In some cases, I pay royalties (commissions based on how many copies I sell) on top of the $40 – $50.
(Yes, you may see those same images sold for a dollar or two. That’s for standard licensing, which does not allow me to use them website designs sold on sites like mine. I often have to buy the extended license.)
For an average website (theme or template) that I’ll sell, I can spend $150 in a blink for high-quality graphics. For book illustrations — printed books, ebooks, or Kindles — I can easily spend $1000.
- Dreamstime Free Photo section
- Creative Commons search (always double-check licensing anyway)
- Stock.xchng (check terms – usually fine for personal use)
- Totally free images (lots of vintage pix)
Inexpensive, high-quality image sources
Never interrupt plugin updates. That’s a lesson I learned this morning.
I was in a hurry. The plug-in update screen was about to complete its update tasks, so — figuring it’d keep running on its own — I clicked out of that screen to look at the post I wanted to update.
Immediately, I saw the maintenance screen, so I clicked back to the Update Plugins page.
Here’s what I saw:
I tried to go to the Dashboard screen. No luck.
I tried to login again, but the basic screen message was the same. (Over a month later, I discovered that I might have been able to delete a file called .maintenance to get back to the site.)
This is why I have backups of my websites. I used WP-Twin to restore the site.
However, it wasn’t a matter of simply overwriting the site. When I entered the URL with /wptwindeploy.php in my browser, I still saw the maintenance screen.
So, here’s what I did:
1. I went to cPanel and removed every file in the site’s directory. (If it had been a site that included non-WordPress files, I’d have deleted just the WP files.) I could have done this via FTP, but I chose to use File Manager in my cPanel dashboard, since I had to go there anyway.
2. I then used Fantastico to install a clean version of WP.
3. Using FTP — though I could have used File Manager, instead — I uploaded my backup (WP Twin clone) and wptwindeploy.php.
4. The site’s back. Time for all four steps: About 5 minutes. WP Twin made the difference.
So, though WP Twin is expensive (nearly $100), the time it saves me — not only during “oops” moments like this but also when I’m installing new sites — makes it a smart investment for anyone running multiple websites.
I have WP Twin clones of every site I own. I also have WP Twin clones of the basics I install on every site that I build from scratch. That saves me at least an hour’s work on every site I build.
Yes, I could do this with FlipMe Clone. That’s very good software and it costs less than WP Twin. However, I really don’t like to tweak or even look at database files. That’s the same reason I don’t use Backup Buddy, either, though I own a copy of it.
For me, ease of use and speed make WP Twin essential.
Today’s lesson could have been a lot more time-consuming and frustrating. I learned not to click out of the Update Plugins screen until it’s 100% completed its tasks. And, I was reminded to keep current WP Twin clones of my most active websites.
Link: WP Twin cloning software