It has been almost 3 years (wow!) since the announcement of Google+Blog for WordPress and the uptake was much more than I ever expected it to be. Thousands of people explored the concept of using their Google+ content as a way to spice up their blogs, to keep their own off-site version of their posts, or to simply share content with those that aren't on G+. Given the ease of creating long form, media rich posts, who wouldn't want to use G+ as their content management platform?
But as software is updated over time it can get a little clunky and less efficient. I was never happy about the requirement of an API key and there have been many requests for more flexible templating. So with the plugin begging for a major update it has received one, as well as a rebranding. [Existing supporters receive a free upgrade, check your email or message me]
Social Media 2 WordPress for Google+ has arrived
This plugin has been rewritten from the ground up, promising to be faster and easier to use. A little feature rundown as follows:
* Import posts from multiple G+ profiles or pages * Transfer comments from G+ into your WordPress blog (with author attribution) * Complete customisation of how posts are presented with templates * Support for feature images * Filter imports by hashtag (inclusive or exclusive) * Customisable scheduling of imports * Updates from within WordPress * and much more...
More details about the plugin and Free / Paid ($19.99) versions are available on the website @ sm2wp.com Support and feature requests provided via G+ Community @ goo.gl/nAsuYy
This is just the beginning for the new suite of plugins, with support for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Blogger to follow.
With the release of Google+ came a new social media platform that encouraged the sharing of long form, structured content along with beautiful images in a way that was almost TOO easy. More and more people found themselves creating great posts that would have previously been submitted to their blog which was suddenly starting to look barren. It was for this reason that Google+Blog for WordPress was created, a simple plugin that takes posts from Google+ and imports them into your WordPress blog.
* Transfer posts from Google+ to WordPress seamlessly
* Support for multiple profiles (allowing multiple authors to post on your blog automatically)
* Import comments from Google+ to WordPress to show how active your posts are
* The option to only transfer posts with certain hashtags (or exclude posts by hashtag)
* Include images/videos in posts with an option to specify images as feature images/thumbnails
* Imported posts do not have to be automatically published, allowing final editing before becoming public
How Do I Buy The Plugin?
There are two versions of the plugin available, the first of which is available for US$10. This cost covers the continued development of the plugin and allows me to provide support where possible. If you are not happy with the plugin I will happily refund you. To purchase the full version click on the paypal link below.
Can I Get It For Free?
A free version of the plugin is also available for download. This version provides the same functionality as the paid one, with the caveat of each post containing a small blurb with a link back to this site. Support is also limited for the free version of the plugin, though I encourage all users to try before they buy. To download the free version, click the link below.
If you have any comments, questions or suggestions related to the plugin, please do not hesitate to contact me by choosing your favourite contact method on the right (though email is preferred). Thanks for the support.
Google have just rolled out a great feature in the way of integrated comments across the Blogger network. This will enable a greater integration of one's social identity on G+ and that of a general online persona. Google have taken it a step further though, showing all interactions on shares of the blog pages across the G+ network, giving a great view of all activity and discussion involving the posts.
Although the release is limited to Blogger, I have managed to get it up and running on my own self-hosted blog. This is not the intended use (yet), but is surely a peek of what will be available in the future. There is a good chance that this implementation will be shut down so be sure to check it out.
As soon as Google give this a go ahead, if it is requested enough I will investigate writing a WordPress plugin to implement it. Let me know if you would be interested.
Let me start out by saying that I am not the most graphically talented guy you will ever meet. That is actually quite an understatement. I'm a colourblind, stick-figure drawing, artistically lacking individual. If not for my photography I would dub myself creatively defunct. But you know what? I'm ok with that because it's simply not my calling in life. It does become a problem however when one is trying to launch a startup that does not yet have a logo.
A logo is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to brand recognition, even moreso in the online world. It is usually the first thing a potential customer will see from your business and is the primary identifier of who you are and what you do. That's pretty important! With that in mind I set out on creating a small brief for myself on what I want the logo to convey. My key points looked something like this:
- Clean, simple and minimal - Modern - Easily recognisable - Show a link to photography and statistics
For quite some time I had been wanting to try out +99designs, an established startup from Australia that created the largest marketplace for crowdsourced design. I had heard of some great work coming out of there and after looking through the completed 'competitions' I was commited. I say competitions because that is exactly what they are. You create your 'competition' and specify the award amount that goes to the final winner.
Getting started on 99designs was extremely easy. You create a 7 day competition, specify the award amount, fill in a few details about your company/product and give some guidance on the kind of logo you would like by answering a few multiple choice questions. After submitting your brief you are all ready to go. 99designs try to give an estimate of how many designs you can expect from your pricing package but I found it to be severely underestimated. I chose the entry level bronze package for $299 and was told to expect around 30 designs in total but ended up with 234 designs from 57 designers. Let me say that there was no problem with low quality designs (though there were some), the problem was choosing the right design from such a large selection.
As with any kind of design work you have to be ready and willing to give constructive feedback to help guide the direction of the work, something that 99designs really tried to highlight throughout their site. By rating each design and giving detailed responses to the submissions most of the entrants took note and by the end of the contest I was seeing more and more of the exact kind of design that I was after. The final winner was chosen with the help of friends and family as I was having a lot of trouble settling on one, and it is always good to get some outside feedback. Over the next day or so the handover took place and I was all set to use the new logo across the website and in the product video.
If anyone is looking at getting a logo designed I wouldn't hesitate to recommend that you at least give 99designs [99designs.com] a look before going anywhere else.
Head over to Fotostat [fotost.at] to see our new logo in action (and see if you can spot it in the video too!).
One of the more common requests we get for +Fotostat is for more networks to be supported. From the beginning we have tried to prioritise the networks we were supporting by their popularity in an effort to help out as many people as possible, but there has been one glaring omission, +Twitter.
With so many photographers utilising the micro-blogging platform it was a hard decision to not include Twitter from the outset. Around the time Fotostat was moving through beta, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the direction Twitter was taking in relation to developers utilising the service. Not wanting to implement something and have it shortly taken away I was hesitant to support the service at all. After much thought and consideration I have now tentatively added Twitter to the growing list of networks. I'd rather save our users as much time as possible now and deal with any problems that may arise if/when the time comes.
This brings our current supported network count to 9, with Twitter joining Google+, Facebook , Flickr , 500px, Smugmug, Tumblr, WordPress and Instagram.
Please let me know of any networks you would like to see added to the service and we will add it to our list. This is only the beginning with more social networks, photography communities, blogging platforms and stock photography sites slated to be supported in the future.
The end of each year is often a time for reflection, a time to look back on our accomplishments, our failures and everything in between. When running a startup you tend to have quite a few data points to work with which makes it that little bit easier.
2012 was a big year for Fotostat, bringing about about massive changes to our codebase, a couple of server upgrades and a new site design. We invited those that signed up to the mailing list to our closed beta and then finally opened the doors to everyone with an open beta at the end of the year. One month later and we have hit a few milestones:
Over 500 users have signed up to try the service
1,000,000 photos are being monitored to help photographers better understand their audience.
1500 photos have been uploaded to multiple networks from within Fotostat
Like and other startup, Fotostat has not been without problems. As mentioned earlier we have had to upgrade our infrastructure twice throughout the year to accommodate growth, and being a new service there have been many bug reports submitted and completed along the way.
We are nothing without our users, all of who are currently testers. Without you we would not have come this far and your support has been tremendous throughout the year. 2013 is going to be amazing and we hope you can all be part of it.
Thankyou for helping us continue making Fotostat THE central hub where photographers can manage their online presence.
It may come as no surprise to most that having a video on your website to describe your product or service can help increase conversion rates. It has become quite common place these days with many leading retailers, brands and startups creating quirky, funny or just plain informative videos to help turn a visitor into a customer. But that's not all video is capable of with statistics showing that it can also also assist in reducing customer support requests, increasing social shares and even in helping sites rank better on search engines.
With this in mind I decided early on that I wanted to create a video to help describe my startup, +Fotostat [fotost.at]. Based on our experience, describing a service in words is not all that hard, but really conveying how a service can be beneficial to a customer is much harder. Fotostat is a central hub where photographers can manage their online presence by scheduling uploads of their photos across multiple networks. It helps guage how well each photo performs by showing all relevant statistics available from each network and allows the photographer to engage with their audience in one easy to use location. That's all well and good, but what does it actually DO? The main value proposition we wanted to convey to our customers is how much time could be saved by using our product. With that in mind, I set out to write a script for my video, first just in key points (who, what, why etc..), then expanding it into paragraphs.
Putting the script together took a little time, but the most difficult part for me was always going to be the visual side of things. I am not typically what anyone would describe as a creative. Apart from my photography interests, I am not artisticaly inclined whatsoever and find the idea of trying to be quite scary!
Thankfully I came across +PowToon [powtoon.com], a service that provides you with all the tools needed to create a captivating video. One of the great things about Powtoon is their ease of use. If you are familiar with any kind of slide presentation software (like powerpoint), then you will be comfortable with Powtoon. They provide a large array of clipart (some animated!) that you can simply drag and drop onto your slides to create the scenes that you are looking to create in your video. You are able to change the time that each object is visible for (entry and exit points) as well as choose from multiple transition animations.
Powtoon really is great, but it is currently a beta service and not without some (minor) problems. Any video worth watching needs audio, whether it be music or a voiceover or both. Unfortunately at the time of creation it was not possible to add individual sound effects to each object, leaving it up to the user to cut in any effects with their background music which could be uploaded as a single file. This was a bit of a pain to sync up but not a huge issue. Another missing feature that I would have liked to see is the ability to add simple shapes, like a square or circle or even a line. Whilst it was possible to upload your own images, it is certainly much more compelling to keep with the general theme of the existing clipart.
The audio for the Fotostat video was a combination of background music, sound effects for certain objects and a voice over. The background music was made by a talented guy named Kevin MacLoud [incompetech.com] who has created a huge amount of royalty free music (CC Licensed). Donations are appreciated and you can also purchase a non-attribution license which I did for the video which allows the music to be used without a visible reference to Kevin. Sound effects were sourced from +AudioJungle [audiojungle.net] and the voiceover was provided by someone I found on +Fiverr [fiverr.com] for a tiny sum of just $15, which was simply astounding to me.
In total my costs for the video were around $50 for Powtoon, $30 for the music, $15 for the sound effects and $15 for the voiceover. That is just $110 for something that would have cost me well over $1000 to have done professionally. Is it of the same quality? Probably not, but I certainly could not justify the higher price, not this early in my startup's life.
Here at Fotostat we are extremely happy with the end result but we'd love to hear your thoughts so be sure to leave a comment!
I have a confession to make, I have started blogging at least 3 times that I can recall (it is likely more) but have never managed to stick with it. It's a common story, one that is easily proven by the abundance of first posts followed up with nothing at all on blogs all over the web.
It's hard to pinpoint the exact cause of my inability to blog for a decent amount of time but is likely a combination of lack of motivation due to other projects taking priority, lack of focus on a topic or subject for the blog and possibly the idea the noone cares what it is I have to say. Despite having these issues in the past, I feel like this time will be different. Some problems may still pop up from time to time but the way in which I now blog will hopefully allow me to keep on track.
Over the past year and a half or so I have been the most active I have ever been on a social network. The release of Google+ gave me all the features I wanted that I felt were missing or not well implemented on other networks. It also allowed me to start fresh with a new community and has become a place I really love to spend time. Early on I noticed that several high profile bloggers had been creating long-form posts on the network whilst their blogs began to become a little stale. It was an interesting turn of events and not really something I feel many expected. Upon noticing this phenomenon I created a proof of concept which allowed anyone on Google+ to visit my site and have a 'blog' be created based on their posts. I didn't expect to have many check it out but it really took off which in turn made me spend a bit more time creating more permanent solutions in Plusses, a hosted blog that uses Google+ posts as the content creation platform, and Google+Blog, a plugin that pulls in posts to self-hosted WordPress blogs. These tools allowed many people to have an active blog without the extra effort of maintaining another presence.
For whatever reason I have no problem creating a long post for a social network, but always found it much more difficult to blog. With that in mind, and my experience creating the afforementioned cross-posting solutions I will be crafting my posts on Google+ and then automatically replicating them to minimali.se (my blog). The blog is not really a high value asset to me, but it is a place that can point people in the right direction if they are looking to reach out. If it helps my writing find those that are in need of it then all the better.
If you have any questions on this type of setup, be sure to let me know. Good luck to all those that are also looking to write more in 2013.
With Instagram recently causing an uproar by changing their TOS many people went looking for an easy way to make a copy of their photos. Given that there weren't any extremely simple solutions I decided to throw one together for myself and others to use.
Instagrab will ask you to sign in to both your Instagram and Google+ accounts, then with the click of a button will create a private Instagram album on G+ and copy all of your photos across. Transfers will be queued up, so if it isn't happening right away please just a wait a while as there are likely others using the service.
I'm a little late in releasing this as I got a little caught up in the holidays but figured some may find it useful. It didn't take too long to put together as I have a bit of experience integrating with both networks due to my work on +Fotostat (Be sure to check it out if you are a photographer wanting an easier way to manage your online presence).
Be sure to let me know what you think of it or if you have any problems.
After several months of closed testing we are finally opening up the doors so everyone can give Fotostat a try. Thankyou to all our early testers who helped shape the service into what it is today.
If you would like to help us continue to make Fotostat even better, head over to www.fotost.at and sign in to give it a go. Be sure to let us know if you come across any problems or if there is a feature you feel is missing!
What is Fotostat
Fotostat is the central hub where photographers can manage their online presence. It allows you to:
- Save time by scheduling your uploads to multiple social photography sites, blogs and merchant facilities. - Discover how well each photo is performing by seeing all available statistics from each of your networks. - Interact with your followers by commenting across all your sites from one easy to use location.
Which networks are supported
We currently support Google+ (Publishing to albums only, no post creation as yet.), Facebook, Flickr, 500px, Smugmug, Tumblr and WordPress. There are plans to support more networks moving forward so feel free to submit your suggestions for any that you would like to see.
If you have any questions about the service, please don't hesitate to ask.