I’ve got a new tutorial on Elasticsearch up at WPMUDev. If your WordPress site is incredibly large, and your users complain about it being difficult to use search to find things, this cloud-based search tool can speed things up.
You’ll learn how to set up Elasticsearch and configure two plugins (ElasticPress and Fantastic Elasticsearch) to connect your site to the search engine.
Using Local by Flywheel
Preparing tutorials and plugin reviews like this one can be hard, what with switching things in and out to see what works, and how. I’ve been using the new free development site builder from hosting company Flywheel, called Local. They use VirtualBox to create a virtual machine for WordPress. After installation, you can set up any number of WordPress sites. Big plus: When you launch any of your configured sites in a browser, you login with the credentials you provide to Local. When you’re done with your testing, just delete the site and get on with your next project.
Local is an interesting product and easy to play with. While it really was created for plugin developers to see how their tools work in a real environment, it’s good for folks like me who like to test a variety of other people’s themes and plugins too.
By the way, I’m always looking for new WordPress story ideas. If there’s something you’d like to learn about WordPress, leave a public comment here or use the Contact page to connect privately. I aim to answer all emails I get through the website.
Dirty secret: It wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t know what an “indie writer” was. That’s changed in the last year or so, in part thanks to IndieReCon, a free online conference that I first “attended” last year.
This three-day conference is back for a third year, and it’s just as great as I remember last year’s was. It’s a shame I didn’t blog about last year’s event, but I’ll try to make up for it.
What is IndieReCon?
IndieReCon is organized by and mostly for writers interested in, or actively involved with independent self-publishing. That said, there’s a ton of information and inspiration available to traditionally-published and as-yet-unpublished writers.
The conference delivers a variety of speakers in a variety of methods to accommodate the variety of writers (and Internet connection speeds). Consider what I watched on today’s schedule:
Most sessions last an hour, and several have giveaways associated with the speaker. Now some of you might think that each session is more about marketing the speaker and accompanying products and services. I’ve been through a few of those types of webinar series, and really appreciate that the organizers (this year led by the British-based Alliance for Independent Authors) put an emphasis on the value for the audience. The de-emphasis of self-promotion is so strong, you have to hunt for the sponsor’s website (down at the bottom of the About page, if you want to know)!
Coming Attractions, and Reviewing the Archives
Thursday offers a bunch of practical sessions on self-publishing and reviews of the state of the international self-publishing scene. Here are some of the sessions that I’ll be checking into:
I had a terrific time with the Independent Writers of Chicago last week. What a lively group! They took my instructions that this was an interactive presentation to heart. Folks were so engaged, and asked so many questions, I barely got halfway through my planned talk. Nonetheless, have a look at the complete slide deck (click the link if the embed isn’t working):
The slides will give you a hint on why these are the most important, and pros and cons for each service.
But can you make money with it?
Much of the conversation focused on the fundamental question for any freelance writer: Is social media really a valuable investment in time? One writer noted that she set and achieved a goal to get 10,000 Twitter followers, but that she found it impossible to communicate effectively with that size crowd. Not discouraged, she divided her followers into lists based on who shared her content and other criteria. She, in turn, spent more time reading and sharing posts from the folks who supported her.
I also pointed out that many agents and publishers use audience size as a way to decide whether a new author is willing to do the marketing work needed to sell books today. No audience, no sale.
Eight years ago this month, some friends came back from South by Southwest to spread the word of the usefulness and fun quotient of the 140-character mini-blog tool. I signed up, and the rest is certainly history. (Psst…you can follow me using the button on the right).
So let me hook you up with two (relatively) new services that I’m on. I have no idea whether they will become household names over time, but if they do, I want to say I helped.
Ello: This service was the hottest thing in the blogosphere for a week or so late last year. Not unlike Google+, this ad-free zone was torched by the same bloggers and journalists for not dethroning Facebook quickly enough. Nonetheless, this beta service continues to grow, add features, and remains pretty interesting. I’ve got invites…
on Medium. I haven’t done much here, and don’t entirely get its purpose yet, but you might find it interesting too. Gillmor (one of my tech-journalist heroes, BTW) calls himself “a big fan.”
Thanks again to the Independent Writers of Chicago (especially Tom Kepler, James Kepler and David Steinkraus) for inviting me to speak, and providing such a great audience. Oh, the pizza was great, too!