Care for a beverage? Cherry Infusion Fruit Fizz
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!
We're working our tuchuses off to get our clients squared away and ourselves beautified and organized for the most popular blog conference of the year, BlogHer '12. Heads up to our clients and anyone contacting us the first week of August: we'll be out of the office August 1 - 6, returning Tuesday, August 7th. We'll share our experiences when we return and any great blogging tips we picked up along the way. Promise!
BlogHer attendees, clients, friends or total strangers: we'll be flitting about the Hilton New York on Thursday, August 2nd, leaving Sunday, August 5th, so if you see us, hollahhhh! We look like this:
But that's only most of the time. Sometimes, we look like this:
Only with booze. We hope you say hi!
Well, the BlogHer '12 conference season is almost upon us. I say "season" because despite the conference lasting a mere three days, the chatter around it usually starts 2 months ahead and extends about a month or two beyond. So, I figured I'd help kick things off by letting everyone know that Kathy and I both will be in attendence this year in New York City.
We missed last year in my hometown of San Diego due to my 20 year high school reunion scheduled for the same weekend. But this year, we'll be hitting New York in all our glory, ready to absorb the city, it's sights (people watching is awesome), it's delicious tastes (pizza!) and scary scents (hot garbage in August, anyone?). We had a blast last time and this year, we're smarter and decided to stay at the Hilton with the rest of you fine people. Last time we stayed at the Empire Hotel (yes, of Gossip Girl fame) and it was like sleeping on a slab of granite while kitten-heeled reindeer danced on our heads to Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam. Never again.
We'll also be attendig some of the many parties. We love to be social and let's not kid ourselves, we love drink tickets. These are some of the ones on our list. Will you be here?
If you can't find us there, in a panel or at the buffet, try the hotel bar. ;-)
Hope to see you there!
While browsing Pinterest yesterday, I realized that I know a lot of people on there, but not that many people actually use it. I'm not sure if that's because they just don't have time or if they aren't sure what it's for or if they just plain got bored by it. These things happen.
I, on the other hand, think Pinterest can be a lot of fun when it doesn't suck your day into a vortex of quinoa recipes and thinspirational quotes about your thighs. There's a lot of other inspiration to be had on Pinterest, be it fashion or colors, food or fitness, art, photography, home decor, whatever blows your dress up. Sadly, like any hot new thing, Pinterest is both under and over-used by it's pinners, so I thought I'd prepare some helpful tips to new Pinterest users and for clients who may be interested in creating a Pinterest account for their brand.
For those who haven't heard, Pinterest is the hottest new social sharing network online. Or maybe it's in a tie with Instagram, either way, it's popular. (Both are popular enough someone made an internet lovechild called Pinstagram so you can pin Instragram photos, so clearly, there's something to it.)
Pinterest, according to their website:
Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.
You can use it for just about anything you like. Do you collect elephants? Start a pinboard for elephant stuff or if you're into owls, start one of those -- or follow other people's boards about owls. You have no idea how many owl pinboards I've seen. Owls are the new black.
Are you rennovating your house? Start a board to save fabric or wallpaper swatches, dog-ear that chic sofa you saw on that style blog, flag your favorite paint colors.
Are you watching your weight? Do you want to be inspired to roll your tuchus off the couch? There are hundreds of pinboards for delicious healthy cooking and fitness regimens, everything from "you go girl, run the bejeezus out of that race"-type quotes to grain-less cooking to recommended training gear.
Getting hitched? Then Pinterest is for you -- create boards for the big day, for your favorite dresses, for food, invitationand decor ideas. The possibilties are really limitless.
As with anything awesome, there's always something that threatens it's cool factor. True Blood -- one of my favorite shows -- it was so awesome and then...? Werepanthers. Coca-Cola was doing just fine for 81 years, and then New Coke had to screw it all up. Love Boat was a Saturday night staple and then Ted McGinley happened. Someone always has to throw a monkey wrench in the awesome, so here are a few "do's and don'ts" to keep Pinterest on the upswing:
I follow about 75-100 people on Pinterest, but I only see pins from about 10-20 users because my screen often taken up with 20-30 pins in a row from just a handful of users. This in itself isn't awful, but when it's all nail art or all paleo recipes or six rows of nothing but gladiator sandals, my instinct is to unfollow that board... if not all the boards from that person. (Gladiator sandals are grounds for social divorce.)
It's understandable to "get on a kick" when you're surfing online -- you're looking for something specific, so you just start pinning one pair of Ugg Boots after another. That is totally your prerogative -- we're proponents of "do what you want" (though not so much Ugg Boots) -- but if follows are important to you, then consider mixing it up.
If you're are on a kick, it's understandable -- we're all human and I get on them, too. But, perhaps only pin a few "salad in a jar" recipes at a time. Or, if you do post 20 pins in a row, mix it up -- post things from different genres. One of my favorite things to do is go into the "Everything" section -- I often find a nice mix of things that strike my fancy so my pins aren't a wall of LOL Cats and bunny photos (which, I'll admit, is a slippery slope -- I love bunnies!).
People love to be re-pinned. If you see something you like from a friend or even a stranger, feel free to re-pin it. That's what Pinterest is for! It also encourages those you pinned to come check out your stuff, as it sends them a notification when you've pinned someting of theirs. Maybe they'll re-pin your stuff or otherwise connect you with someone else that's into what you're into. You just never know and being social is what social networking is all about.
This is specifically for brands, but applies to personal websites, too. Pinterest has a policy about pinning and sharing your own content on Pinterest, but they really don't enforce it which causes some brands and even owners of personal websites to do a lot of self-promotion. This means if you're a company that sells Whatzits, don't pin every Whatzit you sell on your boards. It's not an online store or your own personal portfolio, it's meant to share things that interest you. If all that interests you is yourself, then Pinterest is not the place for you.
I've followed a few brands that I've since had to unfollow because they pinned every promotional item in their own stream. If I wanted to know what they sold, I'd look at their website. I'm following, say, World Market (*cough*), because I like to shop there and I wonder what inspires the people at World Market... what do they like? I realize that most companies aren't going to want to direct you anywhere but to their own stuff, but again, if that's the case, they shouldn't be using Pinterest.
Look, I realize brands want to market to us -- and I don't mind if I see one or two items from their latest collection in my stream. But when I see 3-6 rows of nothing but outdoor umbrellas and votive candle holders from India, with little price tags in the corner, I am no longer inspired, I'm being sold to. And I, personally, don't use Pinterest for that.
Whole Foods is another that shills a lot of their own stuff, but the way they are doing it right is that they share recipes. They're actually pinning things you can make from products in their store, not just "Buy this olive oil, it's squeezed from rare olives picked on the solstice by nubile Mediterraneans".
I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, I love the idea of sharing boards with someone else. Kathy and I share two boards: Moxie Dream House and Cocktail Hour. She contributes, I contribute, it's a very tra-la-la experience. However, when brands you follow make a board a "group board", a couple things can happen:
Like I said, Pinterest is a social network, so I don't mind discovering new people, but if I wanted to see hoards of pins from strangers, I'd go look at that "Everything" stream or go look at that board directly.
I can't emphasize this one enough. It's positively maddening to click a photo of a great pair of shoes or a lovely dress only to be taken to:
There are probably always going to be copyright and privacy issues swirling with Pinterest. They recently changed it due to some outcry from the community, so I encourage you to read the terms of service and to read it again whenever they update it. If you are concerned at all with things like copyrights or people using your images without your permission (say you're a photographer), do not pin them to Pinterest.
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.
We may be bijou, but we're the cat's pajamas, so we're only able to accept a limited number of projects per season. We encourage you to submit your inquiry early.
Joelle is available for projects starting in July/August 2013.
Kathy is on hiatus and is not currently accepting new clients.
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.