Niche Website Theme Review

niche website themeSeveral months ago the niche website experts Spencer Haws from nichepursuits.com and Chris Guthrie from makemoneyontheinternet.com teamed up to produce a new premium theme. Since they each create dozens of sites a year they were looking to create a solution that would allow them to easily customize each one, as well as allow for easy click-through rate testing to maximize each site’s profits.

ad layouts

The result was released during their webinar last night and is aptly called the Niche Website Theme.

Here are a couple features that makes the theme standout:

  • pre-made color schemes
  • high converting ad layout options
  • easy adsense and amazon banner placements

I just picked up my own copy and will be updating this Niche Website Theme review with the results of my testing. Bookmark this post so you don’t miss out on the many future updates I have planned!

WordPress Directory Theme

elist themeDirectories used to be all the rage in the early days of the Internet, but seem to have fallen off over the last few years. I see a couple listed on Flippa every couple weeks that seem to do well as far as sales are concerned, but I don’t hear them discussed much as a viable online business model.

I got an email earlier in the week from someone looking to setup a directory but didn’t know how to code one up on their own. I did some searching through the inventory of my favorite premium theme developers and came across a really high quality design from the renowned theme shop Elegant Themes.

In fact, they happened to release their WordPress directory theme just a couple months ago. Here’s a glimpse of eList:

wordpress directory theme

I recommended this theme for a couple reasons. As you can obviously see – unlike most directories that still look like they are living in the 90′s – this theme is simply gorgeous. It comes in five different colors so you can suite it to your own preference or tailor it to your niche.

Second, since it was built by Elegant Themes you can be certain that it is a dream to drive through their awesome ePanel theme options panel and shortcode list. and if you can’t figure something out? Drop by the support forums and get top notch assistant from their experts for free (this alone makes the price they charge seem like peanuts).

Lastly, to go back to earlier where I mentioned using a WordPress directory theme to make some income: eList comes complete with ecommerce integration to automatically accept online payments with ease, and if that’s not your style you can setup banner ads to start generating revenue in a snap.

To see eList in action and to check out the rest of the 70+ themes that come with it for under $40, go ahead and visit the site at elegantthemes.com

Genesis Meetup in Austin for SXSW

Developers, users, and fans of the Genesis Framework are gathering March 10th to talk shop during the annual SXSW conference in Austin, Texas. The event is located in downtown Austin at the Starbucks on 4th St.

genesis meetup

The discussion will center around working with the new features released in the Genesis 1.8 update, advice on child theme development, and other interesting things that the StudioPress team is working on. Another bonus to attending is the opportunity to network with theme experts at the top of their craft.

Who’s Attending the Genesis Meetup in Austin

Bill Erickson – author of the Driskill child theme (the first mobile responsive theme in the marketplace)

(click image for details)

driskill theme

Lauren Mancke – designer of the popular Elle child theme

(click image for details)

elle theme

For more information, visit the event site at genesisconnect.com

Making Connections: How to Network at Conferences

With the popular SXSW event quickly approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to post some tips for making the most of your time there. Figuring out how to network at conferences can help you relax and have a better time without all of the anxiety that goes along with making connections with strangers.

making connections and networking

Order Business Cards

Your preparation before the event will make all the difference once you get there. The first thing you should is make sure you are well-stocked with business cards. It is common for people that work in jobs that don’t require business cards to forget how useful a business card could really be. If used correctly it can turn a brief discussion into terrific opportunities down the road.

So what should you include on your business card? Of course, there’s your name, phone number, and email address. And really, that’s all that is required. If the person wants to remember something about you, there will be plenty of room for them to scribble a quick note or two. If you have a position or project that always comes up in your conversations then go ahead and list that as well if you would like,

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it. The only way of making connections that can have a meaningful impact on your life – socially and professionally – is to break away from the safety of your friends and strike up some conversations with strangers. The easiest way to do this is to not spend too much time thinking about it, just decide who you want to meet and walk up and greet them.

Learning how to network at conferences takes practice, so the first couple times you go do so with the mentality that whatever happens will help you learn for the next event. What you will probably notice is that when you don’t psychologically raise the stakes of each interaction so high, you will start to have better conversations and more success.

Do Your Homework

Knowing which events that you are planning to attend might sound obvious, but without a clear plan in place how will people that you start making connections with know where to meetup with you later on? Big events like SXSW have huge speaker lists, but there are just as many gatherings before the event and parties afterwards. These are some of the best places for trying how to network at conferences since people are out of the professional environment and everyone is in naturally social surroundings.

The other thing you should do is try to learn more about the people attending so that you can have an idea of what they will probably speak about. One of the worst things that you can do is strike up a conversation with someone only to learn that you have no interest in what they are saying. Of course, don’t let this deter you because the beauty of networking is you won’t necessarily know if or how other people can help you, but by making the effort to be interested in making connections with them people might create an opportunity for you.

Networking at professional and social media events like SXSW can turn what should be a fun experience into another day of hard work. By learning how to network efficiently and preparing yourself for the event you can turn the necessity of making connections into a truly memorable experience.

Cheap Domain Registration Hosting

Cheap domain registration hosting is a great way to get your website setup and running in very little time and at a great price.

With so many companies out there providing both of these services, it can be hard to choose if you don’t really know what to look for in a provider.

Bluehost is my favorite company that I have found that offers both hosting and cheap domain registration. In fact, if you sign up for a hosting account with them, they will actually give you a domain for free just for becoming a customer.

Bluehost hosting

How to Get a Free Domain with Hosting

Let me take you through the steps to getting your domain and then easily setting it up on a Bluehost server. One good thing about them is that they will have your account ready to go instantly after you sign up for the hosting service, and your domain will be already in your account for you.

After heading to their site at bluehost.com, you select the big green Sign Up Now button, which will take you to another page where you can either choose to get your free domain, or if you already have one then you can just fill it in on the right side for cheap domain registration hosting.

So let’s assume you want to get a free domain to build a site for on your new hosting account. Enter your choice into the box on the left, and then you will be taken to the registration page. If the domain you picked is already owned by someone else, they will serve up some suggestions for other extensions. you can either go with one of those or you can search for a new name. This can be the hardest part of signing up for cheap domain registration hosting, since there are millions of premium domain names already registered.

Once you decide on a name you want, then all you have to do is fill out your contact and billing information so the registrar will have a record of you as the owner of the domain and so Bluehost can bill you for the cheap hosting service.

For purposes of this tutorial, here’s an example of the registration sign-up box:

cheap domain registration

How to Point Your Domain To Your Hosting Account

After you are all set there you will need to direct people that visit your domain to your website. To do this you have to set your nameserver to those of your hosting account. To clarify: your website files will be setup on the server at your web host, and when you set the nameservers associated with your domain it will know to send visitors to that server to get the website request.

This step should only take a couple of minutes. Bluehost will give you the nameserver information when you first access your hosting account, and then you select your domain name and input that information. Once you click save it should take anywhere from a minute to a couple of hours for it to update.

Avenger Thesis Skin by Thesis Awesome

thesis awesome

My friend Hesham owns an awesome theme design business named Thesis Awesome that focuses exclusively on the Thesis Theme from DIYthemes. He’s starting the year off running, first with a release of an innovative and useful review plugin that’s available from the WordPress plugin directory. Now it’s time for him to get paid for the hard work that has gone into creating the Avenger Thesis Skin.

Here’s a quick look at the design:

avenger thesis skin

Avenger Thesis Skin Features

The skin comes with a couple of the standard features that Thesis Awesome has been incorporating into their latest releases. These include:

  • related article with featured image thumbnails
  • enhanced author resource boxes and bio options
  • Google AdSense targeting and banner ad placement
  • “Geeky Options” after content action box and more

Awesome Avenger Newsletter Opt-In Forms

This appears to be the main feature behind the Avenger Skin for Thesis. There has been a lot of commotion going on in the blogosphere about building your list and providing numerous ways to capture your visitors’ emails. Avenger looks to solve this for you by providing a system to add completely customized opt-in boxes nearly anywhere on the page. Whether you want blue, orange, or green. In the header, sidebar, or even the footer. Avenger has got you covered.

Thesis Awesome is running a release promotion for Avenger for the next 10 days, with the special price of $37.If you are at all interested in an opt-in oriented blog design, this would be a good time to head over there and check it out before they raise it up to the regular price. See more over at thesisawesome.com

WordPress.com Sites Add Reblogging Feature

wordpress.com

If you have logged into your wordpress.com account lately, you’ll notice a couple new buttons at the top menu when you view posts and pages of other wordpress.com sites. That’s because the feature that Tumblr made popular called Reblogging has been added this week.

So What is Reblogging?

The idea behind reblogging is very similar to the Twitter retweet – when someone posts or says something that you like, you share a snippet of the post on your personal blog. The web has been fascinated with the idea of sharing content, so just like you would share a funny picture on Facebook or Pinterest, in the push of a button you can reblog the picture to share with your blog’s audience.

If you haven’t checked it out yet or don’t have a wordpress.com account (and why not?!) here is what the tool looks like:

wordpress-reblogging

But won’t this result in mass duplicate content?

Automattic setup the system so only a snippet from the intro is copied to other blogs, and it will link back to the full post on the original authors site. Looking to grow your audience and ind more readers? This makes linkbait and writing epic stuff even more important, as your work (and backlinks) can now spread at lightening speed by way of these simple reblogs.

I like to think of them as the easiest guest posts you will ever write, since you can now write a great piece of content on your own blog, and you will get readers from a whole spectrum of blogs following these reblogs to read the full piece.

There is the added benefit to reblogging someone else’s work besides finding great things for your audience, and that is a comment that gets added to the original post showing who liked it. This is pretty close to the trackback system of allowing readers to find other places where the conversation is being carried on.

Overall, the reblogging feature adds a solid social media element to the trusty veteran blog platform.

Convertible Landing Page Theme by Elegant Themes

convertible theme

The premium theme shop Elegant Themes just announced the release of their latest project – the Convertible Landing Page theme. Their goal with Convertible was to create a landing page system that “is both functional and beautiful.”

We’re the first to agree that all the landing page apps we have seen focus almost exclusively on organizing words on a page and slapping up Buy Now buttons. One look at Convertible and you’ll notice something different – it actually looks good.

The theme operates by making use of drag-and-drop modules, which appear similar to how widgets operate on typical WordPress themes. Drag these versatile modules onto the page then configure them with your mouse. You can create customized looks without getting into the code.

Why does this matter? Well if you follow the advice of landing page experts, you’ll know how much testing should go into your page. By making tweaks to colors, columns, tables, images, and even big advanced layout changes as simple as dragging a module around, you can find your optimally converting page with little hassle.

Convertible Landing Page Theme Features

convertible landing page

Convertible is an affiliate marketing dream theme. It has all the critical components of a landing page, and the styling and polish to everything from the ribbons to the text boxes really make this theme a contender for your toolbox. Here’s some of my favorite features:

  • ribbon headers
  • testimonial boxes
  • video embedding
  • tabbed and toggled content
  • excellent box styles

Elegant Themes has included Convertible as part of their $39 membership package, so if you’re at all in the market for a landing page system, this is a great value when you consider the free bonus of over 65 other themes. For more information you should visit their site elegantthemes.com

Genesis Framework 1.8 Update

genesis framework

The premium theme crowd gets a great release today with the Genesis framework 1.8 update from StudioPress.

The 1.8 update appears geared toward making customization and theme development even easier. Comment lines now make up over 40% of all lines of code in Genesis 1.8, up from 30% in Genesis 1.6, with a significant amount of non-comment code having been added in the meantime as well.

Here’s just some of the main changes made to the framework:

  • New SEO Controls
  • New Extendable Classes for Creating Admin Menus
  • Completely Disable a Navigation Menu, from functions.php
  • Color Style Options
  • Code Standards and Inline Documentation

New Genesis Framework Default Theme

The team also updated the design of the default theme that appears when you have Genesis activated without a child theme applied. Besides the new look, the theme is also responsive, which means it will adjust its dimensions based on what kind of device the site is accessed from.

genesis 1.8

Genesis 1.8 does require the newest version of WordPress 3.3.1 to be fully compatible. After that, grabbing the update is a snap, just go to Themes and click to move to the new version. A major benefit of using a theme framework is that the update only effects the actually framework files, and not the customization of your child theme.

For more info on the Genesis theme framework, checkout the site at studiopress.com

Headway 3.0.5 Responsive Update

headway

The folks over at Headway Themes have released their Headway 3.0.5 update today. It comes complete with plenty of fixed bugs from 3.0 along with a slew of additional features. The entire change log can be found at their site here.

There are enough improvements for practically anyone with sites running Headway to upgrade, and for those previously on the fence about investing in the premium theme to take a second look. To upgrade, just log into your site’s dashboard and select the upgrade link, or you can grab a full zip copy in the members’ area of headwaythemes.com and upload it via FTP.

Headway is Now Responsive Grid Enabled

headway responsive update

The main update to Headway is their inclusion of the responsive grid design ability that has been rapidly growing in popularity among premium themes. Headway now allows you to choose whether to make your site mobile-friendly, and you can have it done in just 2 steps. Whereas most responsive themes force you it on you (or require knowing your way around the code well enough to remove it yourself) Headway provides two interesting ideas.

The first is for site owners to decide for themselves whether to add responsiveness, use a mobile theme plugin, or simply show the site the same way to every visitor.

The other nice feature is it allows your visitor to decide whether to view the site as it normally looks by selecting the option at the bottom of the theme, or just leave it re-sized for their device.

For more information on this update to the Headway Theme, visit the site headwaythemes.com