WordPress Themes – sometimes not as easy as they look

StudioBlue themeI have been trying to find a theme for my blog. I want one that displays the writing in a clear and clean manner, and …

Nearly everywhere I have read recommends the Thesis theme, but my understanding is that is is well built at the back end but you need coding skills to design the front end. I may end up going that way, because the alternatives all have problems.

I found Elegant Themes, which look very nice. It’s US$19.95 per year to use all of them, and you keep them if you don’t renew. I’ve been experimenting with one now – StudioBlue – it’s on the right. Ih shows featured posts and lists of posts by category and is very configurable. It allows ads in the top right corner, but I’ve realised that I have to insert code to put them in there, instead of just in a widget editor, so that’s out.

I also tried one called eNews which showed pictures, but it required a thumbnail to be generated for each post, as well as the code-insertion drama mentioned.

It’s not that I am unable to learn to code, I was a programmer for many years. I just don’t want to spend my time doing that. If writing a post is an extra hassle I’ll do it less often. I would be prepared to spend more to get something more user-friendly but I want to try it out before I buy it, and not find out that I have to mess with code when I’ve already paid for it.

Of course, the real reason for all this mucking around is not for this blog but for my business blog and website.

The inevitable has struck – advertising on blogs

As much as I dislike advertising when it interrupts my day-to-day life I recognise that it is an inevitable part of life. When I’m watching TV I don’t mind when ads appear between shows (and in fact I resent it when they don’t as it doesn’t give me time to go and do something I need to do) but I fiercely resent it when it is inserted within the show, especially movies. I particular resent ads that are placed at points in the program other than when the change of scene makes it obvious that the ad should have been placed there.

So, anyway, I dislike ads but I live with them. This policy has now spilled over into my blogs, including this one. In the past I have half-heartedly inserted an ad in the left column of this blog and another one, and have not, until yesterday, done anything to find out how successful (or not) the ad has been. 

My lack of follow-up has been for a number of reasons:

  1. My general dislike of advertising
  2. My inablility to keep track of the changes in affiliate websites and who is responsible for which advertising company
  3. My inability to remember ids and passwords once I do find the website responsible
  4. My feeling of  despair when I do get into the website responsible

Advertising for Ancestry, GenesReunited and the Origins Network are all controlled by a thing called Commission Junction. Whenever I manage to find and log into this website it has seemed overwhelmingly impossible, as the first thing it shows me as a default is the first page of a long list of advertisers (mostly in the States) that have no relevance to me whatsoever. Finding advertisers I am interested in has been equally difficult. I take one look and then I run away and do something else instead.

World Vital Records has changed from whoever it used to be to the Google Affiliate Network. I’ d never gotten around to doing what I had to do to move to this new mob. Then there is Google Adsense – all those ads you see down the side of the page, and elsewhere. And Google Adwords. And Amazon Associates….

Yesterday I spent a large chunk of the day sorting it all out. It seems I used to have Google Adsense ads but stopped a few months ago. I bit the bullet and signed up for Google Adwords for my business website. I found an ad I liked for the Origins Network and put that in a couple of places. I found a plugin for WordPress, the software that brings you this blog, that will insert an ad in old posts. An example of that ad appears below (in theory, Google ads don’t appear immediately).

It seems the secret to Commission Junction is to select the By Relationship tab, and so I just see the three companies I have relationships with, namely AncestryGenesReunited and the Origins Network, instead of the thousands I don’t want a relationship with. Why didn’t I see that before???! Here are some ads from each of these:


Discover your ancestors at Genes

Go to Irish Origins - Trace your origins online

Aren’t they pretty? And one for World Vital Records:

Who's in Your Family Tree?

Hmm, not what I was expecting. Unfortunately they don’t show you the ad, there’s just a description, although perhaps that depends on which browser I’m using. How about this one?

Search Box Images

It’s a different way to go, sure. I’ve also had a look at the affiliate program for FindMyPast, the UK company, but it seems too much hassle for little benefit. They use a different company called Affiliate Window and want me to pay £5 just to join, and they only make payments when my account reaches £100. I don’t expect that I will ever get to this level so the whole thing seems pointless.

Amazon Associates controls the commission you get if clicking on a picture of a book in your library in LibraryThing takes the reader to Amazon and they buy the book. I have never earned any money this way, but the system is there.

So, dear reader, you will see more ads than you used to. In the current economic climate (don’t you get sick of reading that phrase, and others like it) I need to consider alternate streams of income, although “stream” is an unrealistically optimistic word. Trickle, perhaps. I hope they are not intrusive, and I hope you will let me know if you think they are.

Here is an example from Google Adsense. I will be interested to see what the ad is.

Kreative Blogger Awards

Kreativ Blogger Award

I have been nominated for the Kreative Blogger Award by a lovely blogger in San Diego called Gini. I am honoured, and very surprised, to be receiving recognition from someone so far away!


You can see Gini’s nominations here.

I am now supposed to nominate 7 other bloggers for the same award, and I will make the time to do that very soon, I promise!