Today I want to ask you a simple question….one that has been fretting scholars and entrepreneurs alike since the creation of dehydrated water. And it’s this!
Have you ever wanted to add affiliate programs to your WordPress theme….but the idea of touching code was so scary you’d prefer to use a denuded toothbrush to scour up the elephant pen at the zoo?
If so, I’m here to tell you that if you simply give yourself permission to tackle the above…
you’ll see that doing it is as simple as copying and pasting in a notepad text file.
Bold I am, I know, to make such a statement! But I know it’s true – I walked my middleschooler throught it yesterday.
The settings were very basic – I had her go to her domain control panel, open up her theme’s sidebar file, find a spot to add her new idea, and then copy/paste it in.
It was so cool! I was in my office, she was in her’s, and the following is our conversation via gtalk. Enjoy!
Kid is online.
Mom: close the guest room door please and turn down your music too, please
Kid: my music isn’t on. that’s DDR
Mom: scary Log into your domain control panel
then browse to domains/SupercoolSite.com/wp-content/themes
NOTE – her domain is NOT SuperCoolSite.com . That’s just a placeholder.
Mom: see that SAVE directory? don’t touch it. It’s your backup. Remember, every time you hack a theme, you should make a backup copy of the theme directory. now, doubleclick on WORDTHEME-5
Kid: …i dont see it
Mom: okay single click
what’s your URL?
Mom: notice how it’s not the one I told you.
you need to go deeper -look at the original url
Kid: you said to go to domains, SuperCoolSite
Kid: im there
Mom: Idjutness, thy name is daughter
Kid: but before, you said to go to domains/SuperCoolSite!
Mom: dearie, thou needeth to browseth to the themeth directoryeth
Kid: okay, im just going to click on the WORDTHEME-5 button
Mom: ams yous theres?
Kid: yes, i ams
Mom: scrolldown untill you see sidebar.php
Kid: do i click it?
Mom: copy it a file named sidebar.sav . Always make backups of files before you change them!
figure out how to do that.
Kid: ummmm…. okay… im trying.
Mom: copied it?
Mom: great! now open another browser window and go to your blog. You should always have two windows open when changing your theme so you don’t have to switch around.
Mom: click ‘edit’ on your sidebar.php
i just finished my cheescake, if i get food poisoning, im blaming you
Mom: see those <h2> s?
Kid: um…. no?
Mom: did you click on edit on sidebar.php
NOW I SEE IT
:3 they say "Feed On" and "Latest Posts" and
Mom: Lets say you want another thingee on your sidebar under Feed On. with me so far?
Mom: The following is important.
I need coffee.
but besides that….
Kid: i need Mc Donakds
Mom: to add something, you need to have
<ul> and </ul> balance. Every
to close it.
Kid: like algebra?
Mom: no, more like nested loops.
<li><a href="<?php bloginfo(‘rss2_url’); ?>" title="RSS Feed of Posts">Posts RSS</a></li>
<li><a href="<?php bloginfo(‘comments_rss2_url’); ?>" title="RSS Feed of Comments">Comments RSS</a></li>
Paste it right above that last <li>,
save the file, then reload your blog.
Kid: is something supposed to happen?
Mom: it did. look closely at your reloaded blog
you’ll see you have two Feed On
Kid: oh yeah
Mom: see, you have made your first edit!
Mom: this calls for coffee to celebrate.
Kid: WHAT ABOUT THE HAMBURGER AND COW JUICE GOODNESS
Mom: Now, go back to sidebar.php and change the secondFeed on to "Hello"
i got it
it’s mah birthday, i’m a ninja, it’s mah birthday
Mom: hee hee
Now, do the following:
<li class="feed"><a title="RSS Feed of Posts" href="<?php bloginfo(‘rss2_url’); ?>">Posts RSS</a></li>
<li class="feed"><a title="RSS Feed of Comments" href="<?php bloginfo(‘comments_rss2_url’); ?>">Comments RSS</a></li>
Kid: oh yeah!
Mom: But wait!
Kid: THERE’S MORE
Mom: Why isn’t there a cute little arrow next to it?
Kid: because we took away the script that put it there
Mom: Nope…because the cute little arrow shows up only for list items.
Mom: So put a <li> before the Well, don’t you?
and tack on a </li> after it
Kid: Oh! So <li> stands for list.
Mom: yep, list item
Kid: OMG YAY
Mom: tell me when you’re done….
Kid: im done
Mom: see cute little arrow now?
Mom: now click on the /domains/SuperCoolSite.com/wp-content/themes/WORDTHEME-5 at the bottom on the page for a sec
and open the file style.css
Mom: copy that whole file to a notepad file on your computer and then go back to sidebar.php
Kid: okay …
Mom: hang on…
look at this file
just click on it
see the cute little arrow?
its a bullet point
Mom: in your style.css, search for
Kid: in my style.css?
Mom: in the notepad page you just pasted
i cant find it
Mom: search for it, it’s there
in notepad,do Find| bullet.jpg
Mom: see it?
Mom: okay! Look a bit above you’ll see
#main .sidecol li li
Mom: this section tells your blog how to display items in the sidebar. ie, list-style-image
that’s how you change the defaults.
Mom: www.SuperCoolSite.com/wp-content/themes/WORDTHEME-5/img/bullets.gif is another list item for a different section of your blog.
can you tell me where they would appear?
Pouring coffee, back in a minute
Kid: wait, so the bullets in style.css are different from the bullets on www.SuperCoolSite.com/wp-content/themes/WORDTHEME-5/img/bullets.gi?
Mom: no, they’re both used but in different areas on your blog.
where is the bullets.gif used?
you tell me.
Kid: well, there’s the sidebar
Mom: look in your style.css
or the notepadthingee. 🙂
Kid: in my notepadthingee, that’s the only place where bullet.jpg comes up
Mom: Idjut wonderfulness, i didn’t say bullet.jpg
i said bullets.gif
Kid: …that doesn’t appear at all
Mom: search UP
Edit | Find | bullets.gif
i found it
Mom: okay, what’s the label above it that starts with #
Kid: just a sec, sneezing
Mom: Don’t implode.
Kid: I already told you
Mom: no you didn’t
you found where it is
you didn’t TELL ME what it is.
what’s above it that starts wtih #?
Kid: #content ul li
Mom: YES! And that means, any content (ie post) you make that has a list will use that button instead of the one you see on the sidebar.
Kid: no, before i meant i already implode
Mom: this is how people can get little neat changes in their blogs in different sections.
you set up the section via CSS and then wrap the text with it (well, wordpress does the wrapping….)
Ready to get back to into your sidebar.php?
Mom: go back to sidebar.php
tell me when yo’ure there
Kid: i’m there
Mom: Dark chocolate in the coffee isn’t half as good as English Toffee, btw.
Kid: that’s very nice
Mom: Okay, so now you know why you have that cute little arrow in front of
Well, don’t you
So! what YOU need to do now is
search online for
wordpress feedburner email plugin
Mom: search for a plugin that lets you add an email form for me to sign up to your site via feedburner
i heard that sigh
Mom: You know, you should really do better grammar. anywhos, you’re familiar with plugins, right?
Kid: kind of
Mom: the thingees you activated…
Mom: you want to add a
Subscribe via email
with a text field.
Mom: so you’re looking for that to see if anyone built it. But! Can you think of another way to find the answer?
Kid: ask you?
Mom: ummmm gno
Kid: but it works
Mom: Do math (ie logical thinking). What are you trying to achieve?
Kid: the finding of a plugin that let’s viewers to subscribe via email, with the cute widdle text field
Mom: or in other words, letting people subscribe to your feed via email. Right?
Kid: no duh
Mom: what’s the name of the service yo’ure currently using?
Kid: gmail or actually, gtalk
FOR YOUR SITE!!!
Well golly mom, I think it’s called Feedburner, right?
Kid: yeah what she said
Mom: Log onto your feedburner account and tell me when you’re there.
im at the home page
Mom: did you sign in?
they remembered me
Mom: upper right hand side – see that ‘Help’?
Kid: dont make me click it
Click in. On what do you think you should search?
Kid: email siubscription?
Mom: try that and tell me if it meets your needs
(Mom said, chuckling evilly because Mom knows you’re going to go batty in about 3 minutes)
Kid: ummm… it came up with a lot of things that aren’t plugins
Mom: yep. think it could still be useful?
Mom: See, when you’re hacking your site, you have to keep a completely open mind. Sometimes you’ll use a plugin,sometimes you’ll find you just have to (insert dramatic music HERE)….
copy and paste some code in your sidebar.php
Mom: Do you see the link for FeedBurner Help Center – FeedBurner Email Overview and FAQ
Kid: yeah, its at the top
Mom: Click on it.
What’s the page you end up at?
At what page do you end up?
Mom: you clicked on the wrong link.
Mom: Look again. FeedBurner Help Center – FeedBurner Email Overview and FAQ
Kid: OOOOH now i see it
Mom: The light dawns
Kid: its an FAQ thingy
Mom: now where do you end?
Mom: Yes! She CAN follow directions!
Kid: and the light dawned about 11 hours ago at around 6, i’d say
Mom: We’re talking valedictorian here
Kid: what does that mean?
Mom: Read that page and tell me what you should do next.
dont make me have to die an agonizing death because you don’t know the word ‘valedictorian’
Kid: …i dont
and i install Feedburner Email?
Mom: that might be a wise choice….
did you see:
From within the Publicize tab of the application, publishers activate the service with a simple click, then paste code into their blogging template or website. See what this looks like on a blog or built right into your BrowserFriendly page. A daily digest containing new content from the feeds is delivered to subscribers who have opted in to receive this content. View sample email.
Mom: click on the link See what this looks like on a blog
Mom: Master Keet is eyeing my thumb.
Kid: he wants to chomp on it.
Mom: Is that the thingee for which you are searching?
Kid: yes it is
Mom: no, he just wants to peel away the skin on my poor fingernail
Mom: IDJUT TWITTERBUDGIE!
Bit me again
Kid: i laugh in your general direction
Mom: Hee hee!
So what do you think your next step is?
Kid: ask you what to do next?
Mom: Pretend Mom is currently comatose from telling Sensei Matt and Sensei Ryan and Sensei Casy and….to ‘Bring it on!’
Kid: or go to the site and copy the code
Mom: copy what code?
Mom: That ‘nevermind’ had better be because you found it.
Open a new browser to your feedburner account.
Mom: Clickee on your feedy
Mom: Click on your feed name.
Mom: I cannot believe I’m still awake….
Kid: i found it
Mom: Anywhos, the FAQ page tells you on what page you’ll find the Email thingee to activate.
What tab is it?
Kid: publiciae publicize
Mom: Neat! Do that now.
and then i click on email subscriptions
Mom: Do you see something so shrouded in mystery that oh, you found it.
Mom: Click on it and tell me…
which code do you use?
Kid: there’s no code
not on the page i see
Mom: Whats your URL?
Mom: The good news is you’re on the right page.
Kid: bad news?
Mom: The bad news is your eyes are obviously closed.
Kid: i was born blind
im a mouse
Copy and paste the following code into any web page. Your subscription form will be automatically inserted each time the page is loaded. From there, readers can subscribe to receive daily email with your newest content.
Kid: its not on there
Mom: You DO know I will just HAVE to make a blog posting out of this conversation.
It’s not there.
i have to click on activate
i so knew that
Mom: Mom always has a method to her madness.
Kid: so i copy and paste that into my sidebar.php?
Mom: That might be a wise choice…..
Here’s what you do first.
First, copy/paste it to a new notepad file
Mom: so you don’t have to bounce between browser and browser and have a backup copy
do that yet?
Mom: go back to sidebar.php
Kid: im there
Mom: Where do you think you should paste the code? Hint – you’ll be overwriting something.
Kid: where the i like cheese thingy is?
Mom: Be specific And try it. 🙂
Kid: omg yay i dids it
Mom: hang on, your brother is crying, must comfort.
Did it work?
Kid: yes i am happy
Mom: I’ll subscribe and see what happens.
and voila, you have just hacked your first wordpress theme to make it the way YOU want.
Mom: That’s me kid.
Kid: it’s in the right category, though, right? it belongs under Feed On?
Mom: It belongs wherever you want to put it. You can redesign your whole layout any way you want
Kid: but it makes sense if its under feed on, right?
Mom: Sure! But I’d probably change to
Enter your email address:
to something more spiffy
ill do that
Don’t miss an update! Subscribe below!
or something like that.
Now, go to your plugin list and activate Admin Theme Preview
If you don’t want to do live hacking, you can make a backup copy of your theme and use the Admin Theme preview to check out how new code displays
Mom: Okay, go to designs
See the link Theme Preview?
Mom: Activate the first WORDPRESS-5 you see
(methinks that’s the SAVE
Kid: yeah its the old one
Mom: You can now hack the sidebar.php in that one and test to your heart’s content without messing up what everyone else sees.
Mom: 🙂 This means you can upload plugins, try new designs…
and remember, you need to sign up for the eBay affiliate program so you can start monetizing.
Mom: That is how the majority of the world describes your mom.
Kid: very funny
Mom: The truth often is.
And that was our conversation yesterday. I checked her site today and indeed, she added more tweakies to her sidebar and tried out other plugins as well.
Remember! This is a middle-school kid who doesn’t do any programming.
But because she gives herself permission to tackle anything new….she was able to approach the above with no fear at all and be successful to boot.
You can do the same thing! Just make a backup copy and a testing copy of your WordPress theme, use Admin Preview to start viewing your testing copy, and hack away. You’ll be able to view the changes online while the rest of the world still sees your current theme!
Once you’re satisifed with your new layout, you can then activate your new theme and enjoy.
Ain’t life grand?
#BEGIN highlights of this blog writing post:
Beginners blogging tips: Don’t be afraid to learn how to change your theme code. Always make certain you have a backup so you can restore.
Intermediate and/or Advanced blogging tips: You can add eBay or Amazon.com affiliate code to your sidebars very easily by the above.
#END highlights of this blog writing post
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ps – speaking about wordpress: