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Top WordPress Theme Resources (Tried and True)

One of the questions I’m asked most often is whether or not to go with a free or a paid theme. My answer, every time, is a paid theme. It should come with some support, and should be updated as often as needed with each new version of WordPress.

Resources for Travel WordPress Themes:

  • Elegant Themes – More than 80 premium themes start around $69.
  • ThemeForest – A huge resource with more than 4 500 WordPress themes
  • TemplateMonster – Provides many responsive themes with full support.
  • StudioPress – My go-to place for clean, well kept themes with tons of support.

These are the four that I have used and can recommend for most travel sites. If you want some specific advice, don’t hesitate to drop me a note at chelle [at] travelwebmarketing.com and I’ll see if I can steer you in the right direction!

 

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4 Easy to Keep Organization Resolutions

Every year we go through the same thing – resolutions and the hope of a fresh start. It’s the same every year for some of us, am I right? This year, however, I started my quest for ULTIMATE ORGANIZATION (go back and rread that with a sports announcer’s voice – it’s cool, trust me)

ULTIMATE ORGANIZATION

For me, it meant managing a growing business, opportunities, and new media in ways I hadn’t needed to before. It meant being on the road a little more, using my tools a little better and not letting the tools or tech take so much time that I wasn’t getting productive things done.

I started my quest by looking at the things that I do really well, and do right. Email. I’m an email genius. I purge. I delete. I save things for later and group them so I can reply. And then… I don’t reply and I end up with 100 emails that need attention – but there’s no junk in there! What? Wait. That doesn’t seem efficient now does it?

Resolution #1 – Reply and get it out of my box. Check my email 3 times a day.

I’ve turned off my email notification so I don’t get the sound or popup when email comes in. If someone needs me sooner than 3 hours then they can call or text. I will reply to every mail and only “touch” things once.

Resolution #2 – Check my iphone Email, but don’t delete.
I get almost 200 emails per day, and all of them come into my iPhone,  I only read the messages and reply if I need to. So far, it’s working well and saving me at least 30 minutes a day cleaning them out of my Gmail on my laptop. I also discovered a cool app called SaneBox that inuitively moves your unimportant mail to an archive to check later. If you think its’ important, just move it to your inbox and SaneBox is trained from now on to move it to your inbox automativally.

Resolution #3 – Sync or Swim
I decided a long time ago to use Gmail for my email management. I have more than 30 email addreses, but Gmail keep them all straight and no one needs to know I’m using Gmail – I reply with whatever business address (chelle@travelwebmarketing.com, for example) that they were sent to.  All of them are in one place for archiving, searching and management – but they also go to my Blackberry seamlessly, with no overlap. I also sync my Google Calendar, Contacts and Tasks (more on those later this week).

Resolution #4 – Keep Track of Social Media
I’ve got an entire post dedicated to HootSuite coming later this week, but with this week’s updates – being able to post to a Facebook Fan Page and connections with more than one account – it’s changed my life. I can keep an eye on things in a non-intrusive way with very little time loss.

So – touching things less,  using simplified technology and ignoring most of the noise. I think that’s a good start. What about you? What tips do you have to share this year?

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WordPress Wednesday – PicMonkey

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Case Study: BrioBeachWeddings.com

Marketing and strategy

First of all, full disclosure: I co-own Brio Beach Weddings and so it’s been a labor of love for me to make this site really sizzle. That doesn’t mean that you can’t replicate what I did, however, and I would encourage that you do!

Theme Choice

I chose a theme that screamed feminine, since most of my traffic would be brides. I also went with a bit of a retro theme, because we do beach weddings. It works pretty well, although recently I changed from a Genesis theme to a WooTheme to take advantage of some opportunities to sell product.

Home Page

I kept the home page clean and simple and kept the pricing straightforward. Granted, this is lead pricing, but it’s pretty crucial for my market to have something right upfront to keep the competition at bay. Again, it’s worked. We book on average 2:1 over our nearest competitor according to some insider knowledge.

The Golden Ticket: The contact form

Here’s where the site really shines. I created a very (and I do mean very) detailed formstack form that asks for just about every single thing you could think of, but rather than position it as a “lead generator” I’ve named it “save your date” – so they know what they’re getting themselves into. It’s worked like a charm generating over 1000 quote requests over a 3 year period.

As I said, it’s been a labor of love and has translated into massive business for us. The one thing I plan in add in 2014 is a blog, as well as some additional products for sale through WooCommerce. All in all, it’s been a fantastic site and best of all, we have fresh royalty-free photos to use every time there’s a wedding!

Have a question for me about the site? Want to know more? Post in the comments and I’ll answer your questions!

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WordPress 101

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Facebook Advertising – The Game Changer for Travel Pros

Marketing and strategy

Let me go out on a limb here and declare that Advertising on Facebook is what’s known in business circles as a “game changer.” It’s one of those applications that can level the playing field for small companies really looking to gain some new customers – but in a more specific, focused and tangible way than ever before.

Here’s why. Remember when you signed up for Facebook and you were asked all those silly questions? Remember when you had to verify your email address? You probably added where you went to school, your hometown and whether you were married and what you were looking for (Men? Women? Friendship? Networking?)

You had to add (gasp!) your birthday. You were invited to add your siblings, children and other little details that let you connect with old friends, colleagues, family and networks.

Then you started to “like” things. Pages, people and businesses. Little by little you created a well-rounded profile of who you are, what you like, where you live and what you do. Facebook was stalking you, and you didn’t even know it.

And that, friends, is marketing gold.

If you’ve done any advertising on Google AdWords, or Bing or any of the hundreds of search engines, you know it’s still spray and pray. You spray an offer or a promotion out there and you pray that you’ve hit the right market based on keywords. It’s a very in depth art, and there’s quite a bit of science behind it, there’s no doubt.

However.

It’s still Google’s “best guess” based on their limited aggregated information. They have far too little information to make a precise guess, and there’s too few details to really focus in on the core market you’re trying to attract.

Facebook has those details. Lots of them. And a built in audience, too. With just a few clicks you can target whatever demographic you think makes sense for your business.

Looking for scuba enthusiasts to fill a dive trip to Cozumel, but only want folks over 50, married living in a 50 mile radius of your office? You got it.

Facebook ads allows you to target – with laser precision – people. People, not keywords.

That’s why it’s a game changer.

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Want to learn more about Facebook, Fan Pages, FBML and advertising? Come hear Chelle Honiker Yarbrough at the TRADEShow in Orlando, September 11-13, 2010, or Register for GeekSchool – the online technology learning hub for busy professionals.

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How to Backup WordPress to Dropbox

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Image representing Dropbox as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Backing up your website is a crucial task, and one which is mostly left to the nebulous “web hosting company” in most web owners minds. It’s one of those things that you assume is done, and expect will be handled for you – and for the most part, you would be right. Except when you’re wrong.

Servers crash. We’ve experienced our own set of unprecedented series of events and that’s meant that we look at how we back our systems up from both a web host perspective – but also from the website owner’s perspective. What we’ve learned is that while we do a good job of backup to the Amazon Storage Service on a weekly basis for email and the larger files, from a web owner’s perspective we need to have our own set of files for our sites.

Since we use WordPress for all our sites, this is actually (now) pretty easy. We’ve used a plugin to backup each WordPress site to Amazon Storage, which is really cheap – less than $2 per month for most sites, but requires a bit of configuration and manipulation. It’s fine, but not for the non-geek, in my opinion.

Here’s an even easier option: WordPress Backup to Dropbox – a simple plugin that makes use of the Dropbox storage system, which we use for all our backups and syncs between computers anyway. You get up to 2GB free, which is generally more than enough for the average WordPress website.

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And Yet Another Reason To Love GMAIL

google-apps-logo
Exquisite-gmail red

Image via Wikipedia

 

Look, I make no secret of the fact that I’m a Gmail Fan-Girl. It’s true. Here’s yet another reason why:

 

Background Sending

One of the most common delays happens after you hit that “Send” button, when you’re waiting patiently for a couple seconds for Gmail to send your message. If you send a lot of email, that can add up to a lot of lost time.

Now they’ve added a Lab Feature to improve sending. No more waiting for large attachments to upload. It does it all in the background.

Nifty, huh?

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Facebook Now Allows Tagging in Comments

Facebook Comments Now Allow Tagging

Facebook users can now tag their friends, Pages, apps, Groups, and Events in comments to news feed stories and wall posts to create linked mentions. This is a huge boost for connectivity and a feature that’s been lacking since they rolled out tagging back in September, 2009

To use the feature, simply type the @ and a few letters of the name of the person or business you want to tag. They’ll get a notification when they’re tagged, too.

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Tech Tip: Google Chat

rtm

I’m a Google Fan Girl. A big one. Most of their products are intuitive, rarely break and when I log in, they do what I want them to do. My absolute test for just about any application I review or consider adopting needs to include Google’s suite of applications if it’s going to play in my sandbox. There are too many to mention, but the plus signs and check marks next to “awesome feature” can’t be quickly added up.

The one I find myself playing with the most lately is Google Chat. I used to use MSN Messenger (for nearly 8 years!) but found that having multiple chat platforms was a pain – that, coupled with the fact that most of my friends were migrating away and I needed a mobile solution for my Blackberry made the need to leap more urgent. Since it’s already integrated with Google’s Gmail, it made for a seamless switch.

It just keeps getting better and better and for the past month I’ve taken advantage of one of the coolest features yet – letting Remember the Milk remind me (automatically) via Chat! If you’re not familiar with RTM, be sure and check them out – we devote lots of time to them in GeekSchool for a reason!

Here’s how it works:
I added rtm.remind@gmail.com as a friend in my Google Chat List:

They don’t need to approve it, you’re ready to go on the Google side just by doing this. The official address is rtm.remind@gmail.com

Now, for the magic part. Go into your Remember the Milk account, click on settings and then reminders. Change your reminders to include Google Talk:

That’s it! I can also setup Twitter and Email… but WHY? I’m already in my email and I don’t have to wait! Neat, huh?