Care for a beverage? Spicy Hot Chocolate
It's... that... time of year! When the world falls in love! Every song you hear... seems to saaaaay... Okay, you didn't come here to hear me sing The Christmas Waltz. You came to learn how to make it snow!
Fortunately, it's super easy if you're running Jetpack on your self-hosted Wordpress website. With just a couple clicks, you can get your snow on.
I usually install Jetpack on most of Wordpress projects because it's got a lot of nice features built-in. I deactivate many of them if I don't need them, truth be told, so as not to slow down the site, but I do love me some snow! If you don't have Jetpack installed, you'll want to download it here or go to Plugins > Add New and search for "Jetpack" if you don't see it as an option right on the landing screen.
Once Jetpack is installed and activated, go to Jetpack > Settings > Appearance and scroll down to where it says Holiday Snow. If it's greyed-out or "off", click it to make sure it's green or "on". Don't worry, if you turn it on in July, it won't actually start snowing yet.
The default setting in Jetpack is for snow to fall from December 1 - January 4. So even if you turn it on earlier, it won't start snowing until December. Alternatively, you can also turn on/off the snow under General > Settings > "Show falling snow on my blog until January 4th." (check the checkbox), but that checkbox option won't show up until December 1. Unchecking it turns off the Holiday Snow feature you turned on in Step 2.
There are other ways to add snow if you don't want to install Jetpack and all its built-in goodies. There are plugins made just for snow. You can find a whole bunch here.
There have been many incarnations of our website in the last 10 years. We started out with a pair of ladies from stock imagery, for whom we hold a particular nostalgia. We've had hair salon ladies and even prom wallflower ladies when we were more than two.
When we had the ever-talented Derek Yaniger draw our girls in 2004, the same airline girls we're currently featuring, we knew we had found our niche -- and The Moxie Girls were solidified as part of our brand. Since then, we've been 60's Go-Go dancers and holiday-time Santa's Helpers and a few miscallenous looks along the way. But, in honor of our 10-year anniversary this year, The Moxie Girls are ready for something fresh...
Leave a comment on this post telling us what "scene" or "theme" you'd like to see for The Moxie Girls next and you'll be entered to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card. You must leave a comment to be entered and may only submit one comment per person.
From this page, share this post on Facebook or Twitter, like our Facebook page and/or follow us on Twitter for extra entries. You may share/tweet as often as you like.
The winner will be chosen at random on August 1 by 12pm PST. Giveaway ends 12am PST on August 1, 2013.
But,we thought a brief announcement was a good way to resuscitate the blog, so here goes: We'll be OUT OF THE OFFICE on July 24th - July 29th at BlogHer 2013 Conference in Chicago.
If you're going to be there, please say hi. :)
We're also booking for Fall 2013, so if you're interested in working together before the holidays (or beyond!) please take a moment to fill out our Request for Proposal form so we can get the ball rolling. Our scheduled fill up quite quickly and we'd love to work with you.
Wow, it's been a while since we updated our blog, no? We've been cheating on our blog with Facebook, admittedly. (Have you "liked" us on Facebook? You totally should!) But we do think it's time to update you on some of the changes 'round these parts.
2013 is our 10th anniversary year in business... and we couldn't be more thrilled. What started as a couple friends (who had never met) making some blog designs on the side quickly turned into a popular and thriving business, which resulted in hundreds of fabulous blogs and websites, a book about blogging and a lot of amazing opportunities over the last decade. I am so proud of what we've accomplished and am looking forward to dazzling you fine folks well into the next decade.
Oh, gosh, lots is new. I'm afraid I've been lax in updating our portfolio -- busy, busy, busy, but here's some of the awesomeness that you may have missed:
Cheesetique, our client since 2004, received her 3rd redesign this past Fall... we kept her same "vibe", but created a more modern layout, incorporating both of her shop/restaurant locations. We also moved her from Expression Engine to Wordpress.
Another wonderful client in the same area of Alexandria, VA, as well as a directory of a lot of amazing boutiques and shops in the area, OldTownBoutiqueDistrict.com, also got an entirely new look. in addition to moving from Joomla to Wordpress.
Laughing Sheep Yarns is a delightful, whimsical yarn shop nearby in Charlottesville, VA. Clearly, we like Virginia. ;-)
We've got a new site in the works for long-time client, FashionJunkie.com (launching very (very!) soon) as well as a full re-branding and redesign of another stylish yarn shop in New Jersey and the branding and website for an incredible new advice community. We're also redesigning the website of a very popular 60's (and beyond!) musical group that has us working "happy together", if that gives you a hint.
Also on deck for early 2013, a redesign of long-time client, Rita McGrath's website, and some additions to The Mortal Instruments author, Cassandra Clare's new site, which we launched last Spring. (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the film, is coming out in 2013!) There's some other stuff in there, too, but you'll just have to wait and see!
With all that, I am accepting new clients and projects for March 2013. During tax-return season, my schedule tends to fill up pretty quickly, so I encourage you to submit your Requests for Proposal as soon as possible, if you're interested in working together in the first quarter of 2013.
Kathy is no longer accepting large projects -- she's taking on only smaller projects and maintenance, focusing on her existing clients and continuing to be a stellar mom and super athlete. (Did you know she's training for an Ironman? She's amazing!) Given her limited availability, if you have anything you'd like to work with Kathy on, please drop her a line! I'm sure she'd love to hear from you. (If you don't know, Kathy also runs the original one-stop eco-friendly shop for parents, Safemama.com.)
Let's see... any other news? Nope, I think that's it for now! Here's wishing you and yours a wonderful New Year. We look forward to working with you in 2013!
Recently, a client sent me an email asking, "Is there anyway I can get into the back door of my site?" She wanted to send one of her blog posts to a friend. This confused me, as last time I checked her site was online, alive and well. Upon further investigation, I discovered her site was offline, so I inquired if she'd forgotten to renew her hosting or if her domain name had lapsed. She let me know that, due to personal reasons, she'd not been able to renew her hosting account and figured she'd do so whenever the time was right. Sadly, this made me cringe for her, as I realized the client's site had been offline for some time and the likelihood of retrieving her files was slim to none. She had no idea they wouldn't hold them indefinitely.
This is not a new thing and she isn't alone -- we've had several clients over the years abandon their blogs and websites thinking they could just return to them whenever they were able to afford it/had the time/felt like it/the planets aligned. Unfortunately, the internet doesn't work that way -- the companies that manage your website are businesses that need to make money, so they won't hold onto your files or your domain name indefinitely. That would be totally awesome if they did, though!
I thought I'd offer some tips that help explain where your files live, how long they're there and how to prevent the beautiful sites you paid money for from disappearing forever. First, some basics:
Hosting is where your website lives, where the files are kept that make your website a tangible thing. A host runs both shared server space and dedicated server space, but most bloggers and small businesses utilize shared server space. Think of the shared server space like an apartment building. You're renting an apartment in a building and all the furniture in the apartment are your files, graphics, blog posts, etc.
Most of you know this one. A domain name is how people get to your website. So, using the apartment analogy, a domain name is the number on the door of your apartment. There are other domains in that apartment building, but http://www.yourdomainname.com is the one that goes JUST to your apartment. If you live in apartment #3, http://www.apartment3.com is your domain name. You register your domain name through a registrar.
Now, this is where it can get a little confusing, especially for those new to the wonders of the internet: A host can also be a registrar that offers domain names, so you may have a host that is a one-stop shop: hosting and domain in one. You pay to one place, the end. But many people register their domain name with a separate registrar and then assign that domain name through the registrar to the host, where your website files live. So that means you need to maintain two accounts: your domain name through the registrar (renewals, etc.) and your website through the host (where your website files live).
If one or both of these things lapse, either in non-renewal or lack of payment, your website will be unreachable. If left offline long enough, one or both will be deleted (website files) or released into the wild for someone else to purchase (domain names).
With me so far?
Our usual policy is that it's up to the client to maintain backups on their websites and encourage you to do weekly or, at the very least, monthly backups of your website files and database. We do often, especially for Wordpress clients, install a plugin that automatically sends us weekly updates of a client's database just in case and we do keep a backup of the client's themes and files post initial site-launch, but if the client has added any content/photos/plugins since we launched the site, we would not have a backup of that unless the client hired us specifically to do maintenance on their site regularly. Most clients do not choose to do this, though we really recommend it if the're not comfortable backing up their own files.
As mentioned above, do regular backups. REGULAR BACKUPS. Let me say it again -- regular. backups. This means once a week or once a month, you access your files via FTP and download everything to a secure location on your computer or an external hard drive. Also, running a back-up of your database is recommended. This can be scary for clients because the database is usually where all the content lives, so if you delete that, the sky will fall and the earth will shake and you'll probably tinkle and cry a little.
You think I'm kidding.
But most hosts offer weekly backups of databases and files that are simple for you to download in a tidy zipped file. No muss, no fuss. If you have any questions or concerns about this, contact your host and ask how do I download weekly backups of my files and database? They can usually point the way. If they can't, please feel free to drop us an email and we'll be happy to help direct you. Of course, you're always welcome to hire us to do maintenance.
Stay on top of your renewables and make sure your credit cards and contact info on file with your host and registrar are always current. Many times, a registar or host will email you or even snail-mail you -- in fact, they'll usually do it a lot -- reminding you that your credit card is about to expire or your domain name is up for renewal. If you don't have automatic renewal on your domain name and you forget or move and the reminders get lost in the mail or sent to spam, your domain name will lapse and within 72 days, your domain name goes back into the open market for someone else to purchase. You might think that someone won't want http://mamagoatssuperfantastichoofsoftner.com but, once a domain name has been purchased and used, it becomes valuable to someone, even if that someone is just a squatter looking to make a buck off your forgetfulness. So check your domains regularly, check your hosting regularly, and note addresses, expiration dates and credit card info.
This is a biggie. If you decide to stop blogging for a while or not renew your hosting or you're just not feeling it right now, just drop us an email and let us know (preferably before you let your hosting expire or your domain name lapse). We will go in and backup all your files and your database for you for a nominal fee and keep them on file for your triumphant return. Or we can email them to you for your own safekeeping. This way, should you decide to get back on the horse, we'll have all your beautiful files, graphics and posts ready to fire back up again.
We can't do much about your domain name -- that's yours to maintain, but we highly recommend that should you even consider bringing your website back, keep renewing the domain name. It's roughly $10 a year and worth it, unless you want to see some squatter selling your domain name for an ungodly amount of money or an adult website in place of your perfectly innocent blog about pickling vegetables.
This is where it gets a bit more complicated.
If your domain name lapsed, and it's within 30 days, you can usually contact the registrar and renew it without issue. If it's beyond 30 days, it may be more difficult, but you'll need to contact the registrar for the details. Beyond 72 days, it's released into the open market. Should someone else have a backorder on your domain, they will have first dibs, but otherwise, you may be able to repurchase your domain name if someone else hasn't already snatched it up.
If it's within 30 days, you can usually contact the host and renew your account or update your credit card to get the site turned back on. Some hosts do have shorter grace periods (like 2 weeks), but most are around 30 days. If it's beyond 30 days, it's quite likely the host has written you off and deleted your account. And much like dropping your keys in a volcano, don't bother going after it because man... it's gone. There's always a chance that the host hasn't gotten around to deleting the files yet, so it's always worth it to ask. When it doubt, ASK. But don't be shocked if it's gone after 30 days.
If this happens, contact us -- we will likely have a backup of your site files and the database we saved from when we launched your site initially. But unless we have a maintenance agreement with you or have database back-ups sent to us weekly, it's unlikely we'll have your most current files. If you've let it lapse longer than 30 days, we can only do our best.
Well, kiddo... that's a bummer. In that case, it's luck of the draw. You won't be able to get your hosting files back, most likely, but there is a chance of getting your domain name again, should it be unique enough that no one else grabbed it. And we may have your initial database and files on tap, but they'll likely need some upgrades and reinstall and all that stuff, which we'd do for a nominal fee. If your domain is gone, though, you'll need to start again or have us modify your existing files for the new name... or just throw in the towel and pour yourself a drink. (Though, I'd have done that when I first noticed my site was down.)
So, the moral of this story is simply this: your files aren't stored online forever in the event you might want them back someday. It's up to you to maintain your website and files, contact info and domain names if you don't wish to hire someone to do that for you. It doesn't have to be time consuming or complicated, just set a monthly or weekly reminder on your calendar to confirm your info is up to date and expiration dates aren't imminent. And should you decide to take a break, let us know so we can back up for your files for posterity.
You won't regret it!
Ok, so it's not really a magazine. It's barely even a newsletter. "Low-volume" is an understatement. We save the mailing list for the really exclusive stuff or the really BIG stuff. So, you can feel confident signing up without fear of us flooding your inbox.
Oops! We ran out of vacation time over the holidays and it's time to get back to our clients. This section is still in progress, but it will be finished very soon.