Dark and, at times, amusing fiction from award-winning author Dave Zeltserman

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Building an author's website using Wordpress

Like a lot of people 10 years ago I had built my html website using FrontPage and then later Microsoft Expression, but with a movie (Small Crimes) and a new thriller series coming out next year, I bit the bullet and built a new website using Wordpress. The advantages of using Wordpress are signficant:

1) Building a more professional and attractive looking website
2) using Wordpress's free resources to make your site SEO compliant.
3) Building a site that is also mobile friendly.
4) Building a site that is FAR easier to maintain and change!
5) Easily integrating a blog into your site.

There is so much more more you can do with Wordpress than that, such as integrate with MailChimp and build an Internet store. What I mention above is just the tip of the iceberg, and what I've focused on so far.

I was able to learn Wordpress in about a week by using the following resources:

Wordpress for Beginners--Master Wordpress Quickly -- this is a 20 hour online course I found on udemy.com. The instructor, Andrew Williams, is very good, and he covers all the nuts and bolts of building a website from scratch, including a lot of useful plugins, and other very useful information. Using Wordpress is very different than using a tool like FrontPage, very much a paradigm shift, and an online course like this one should be a prerequisite. I really like udemy.com's platform.

One you learn the basics, there are two major pieces that you want to dive into -- Visual Composer and Revolution Slider.

Visual Composer is a tool for building your website pages, and once you get the hang of it, it is very easy to use. There are a lot of free youtube video tutorials for it, and I recommend finding tutorials from WPTuts -- here's a good one to start with:


Revolution Slider is what you use to build those cool animated slideshows for your website. This is a pretty good 2-hour tutorial:


This should give you most of the training you need to start working with Wordpress. Before you start building your website, you should make sure your hosting company provides necessary Wordpress support, including getting Wordpress free. Sitelock, protection is something you're going to want. Also you're going to want a security certificate for your site (around $39 a year). And you want to make sure that they have trained Wordpress support people, because unlike FrontPage sites that use html files, Wordpress uses a database, and things can get messed up easily, especially when moving a site.

Wordpress sites are based on themes--these are both free and commercial. The themes give your Wordpress site a certain look and feel. It's probably very possible to build a good Wordpress site using a free theme, but the commercial ones are not very expensive (most under $100) and they're slick. I chose the Creativo theme ($59), and it comes bundled with Visual Composer + Slider Revolution.  Both of rhese can be bought independently as plugins, but the Creativo theme adds some nice bells and whistles to both.

There are free plugins for caching (W3 Total Cache), security, image compression (Compress JPEG & PNG images), fixing your website after adding a security certificate (Really Simple SSL -- a must!), and building an SEO Sitemap (Yoast SEO). There are many other free + commercial plugins for doing a lot of cool and necessary stuff, such as database backups, spammer protection, etc., and Andrew's udemy.com course will point you to several of these.

One of several valuable resources Andrew's course pointed me to was photodune.net. This is a site for buying low cost ($1 - $5)  royalty-free photos, and they have a massive collection. This is where I got the police car and LA night scene photo for my home page slider, and the bull terrier for my about Jacob Stone page. An excellent resource for getting custom images designed is upwork.com, which is a site where you solicit bids from professionals around the world. The image of my books as row houses, which is shown on my home page, was done by Mihaela Voicu, an extremely talented graphic artist from Romania, whom I connected with from upwork.com. One of the reasons I chose Mihaela was because of the stunning book covers she has designed (which are shown in her portfolio)--so I heartily recommend Mihaela not only for custom images, but any authors looking for book cover design.

After my crash course, it took me about 3 1/2 days to build my website https//www.davezeltserman.com , and it probably would've taken me 1 1/2 days if I didn't get hung up on stupid stuff.


1) When you buy a Wordpress theme, you might be offered an additional charge to have it installed on your website. I found that it was easy enough to do it myself.

2) Another added charge that was offered was to build the demo website that the theme shows. I don't see any point to that, and am guessing it would be far more work to take down all those pages than anything you'd get from it. Again, Wordpress is a different paradigm than FrontPage/HTML, and you probably won't get anything out of looking at those demo pages until you take the course and online tutorials that I mention above, and at that point, those demo pages would be unnecessary.

3) You'll need a security certificate so that your site runs over https. Your Wordpress site will show up malformed on some percentage of browsers out there without it. And once the certificate is installed you want to install and run the Really Simple SSL plugin to fix up your database.

4) Revolution Slider is not only very powerful, but incredibly easy to use once you learn it. One of the things I got hung up on was how to control the height of the slider because I kept missing the easy control that was provided. This is one of the things that each theme will do differently.

5) Mojo Marketplace suggested I build my Wordpress site under a temporary director and move it to my home site when ready. If possible, build it under your home site, otherwise you're going to have link issues once it's moved that are going to need a Wordpress expert to fix.

6) http://www.myebook.co.za/how-to-make-a-free-3d-cover-image-of-your-book gives your all the steps needed to build a 3D book cover, like the one I show for Small Crimes on my home page slider.

I hope this helps authors (and others) to migrate from html and o the world of Wordpress,

Friday, September 9, 2016

A new Julius Katz story!

Well, really, a new Archie story.

I'm going to be transitioning from this blog, at least as far as writing news goes, and using the blog I created for my new website. You read more about this new story at: