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Zazzle Storebuilder Premium Plugin

The Zstore Helper Plugin – Premium Edition is no longer available for sale. If you already have a copy, it should still be working, but there won’t be any updates.

Bill H (aka FishTsdotcom) had developed a premium version of Paul Robinson’s free Zstore Helper plugin and offered it for sale on his site. Bill and Paul had worked out the arrangement between them about the plugin.

I learned a few days ago that Bill passed away this past February and all of his web properties have since been taken down. I don’t know the legal status of that particular WordPress Zazzle plugin.

RIP, Bill. Your Zazzle colleagues have missed you and will remember you as a helpful and friendly contributor to our community.



Content Thieves Got You Concerned?

I gave a talk yesterday at the Metro Detroit WordPress Meetup and a question came up about protecting content on WordPress sites.

How do you prevent people from stealing stuff from your WordPress site?

Another organizer found this great article from by James Dunn called Stop WordPress Content Thieves from Stealing Your Content – and Your Band Width.

He’s got some fantastic suggestions for things you can do over and above watermarking your images. There are plugins available to help protect your content, images, video AND good standing with Google. You may want to take action or at least bookmark that article!


Is there a WordCamp in your future?

What is WordCamp?

WordCamp is the official term for a type of annual gathering of local WordPress users. There have been hundreds of them held all around the world and maybe one in a city near you!

Whether you’ve been blogging on a WordPress site or designing WordPress websites or developing code and plugins for WordPress, you can benefit from participating in a local WordCamp!

WordCamp Central, the branch of the WordPress organization that oversees WordCamps,  describes them as

…casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress, the free and open source personal publishing software that powers over 25 million sites on the web.

WordCamps come in all different flavors, based on the local communities that produce them, but in general, WordCamps include sessions on how to use WordPress more effectively, beginning plugin and theme development, advanced techniques, security, etc.

I live in a tech town where we will be holding our second WordCamp this weekend. Everyone is so busy pulling all the details together. We have a lot of dedicated WordPress users as well as a lot of people interested in just using or learning about WordPress.

Unlike many conferences that cost hundreds of dollars, WordCamps are designed to be very affordable. You will find $20 a typical cost for a one-day WordCamp and that includes a t-shirt and lunch!

Community participation, volunteers and sponsors are what make it work. There is so much learning and sharing among the different groups that everyone gains something.

Breakfast Tacos, BBQ and Beer

Maybe I should mention that there is always good food and parties. And free t-shirts!

In Austin, that good food usually includes breakfast tacos in the morning, BBQ at lunch, and beer when you can handle it. 🙂

This year, I’m not just attending and helping out with the blog and acting as a photographer, I’m also making a presentation! It’s going to be related to this site, talking about How to Monetize a WordPress Website with custom products, such as Zazzle’s print on demand products. (For an overview of what print-on-demand is, check out this page.)

If you have a chance to attend a WordCamp in your area, I highly recommend it. Even if your head is swamped by info, you’ll meet other WordPress people in your area and can network with others who do the same work you do, or complementary components to what you do. You can learn what is possible and who can do it, which tends to be eye-opening all by itself. After last years’s WordCamp, I was finally able to migrate a large blog with thousands of pictures and posts from wordpress.COM to wordpress.ORG. Several previous attempts had failed, but I heard a presentation by someone who had done it and got just the right pointer to finally make it work.

Tickets tend to sell out fast at the WordCamps I’ve heard of, so you have to start looking around early and paying attention to how the tickets will be distributed.

Our local WordCamp sold out in one day!

On Television (ok, a computer near you)

You probably didn’t know there is WordPressTV, did you? And that it has a WordCamp CHANNEL?

It’s true! Check it out here: WordCampTV.

Ok, off to put the finishing touches on my presentation!



Drop Caps – Are They Worth the Trouble?

I love drop caps. Especially drop caps in color or illuminated or illustrated!

A drop cap is a extra-large and/or decorated letter that may start off a page or paragraph, BTW.

But they sure can be tricky on the web! The particular WordPress theme is on offers a shortcode for drop caps and I’ve been trying it out. Alas! While the drop code looks decent on the blog pages, it doesn’t translate well to excerpts! I jumped through a few hoops to make them work, but still not quite successfully.

I felt both better and worse when I read this illuminating 🙂 AND instructive article on Smashing Magazine: Drop Caps: Historical Use And Current Best Practices With CSS by Laura Franz. If you are a typography aficionado, you may like to read the whole thing. (Or, just look at the pictures. We know that’s what most of you are really going to do!)

Unlike their historic counterparts, drop caps on the Web don’t add value in terms of usability or readability—and they are hard for Web developers to control, often rendering differently across browsers.

I think I will just drop drop caps from the blog pages for now, but maybe keep them on other pages which don’t use excerpts. I had no idea how much their rendering varied! Coupled with the excerpt issue, I think I’ll back-burner this particular style.

What about you? Do you like drop caps? Or do they just get in the way?


Zazzle Storebuilder on WordPress – Plugin Update

Have you tried a Zazzle Storebuilder WordPress plugin on your WP site?

No? Or Not lately–should I update?

A Zazzle WordPress plugin easily incorporates the Zazzle Store Builder (ZSB). describes the ZSB:

Zazzle Store Builder offers you a convenient, flexible way to access Zazzle products through RSS. You can display your Zazzle products on your existing web site or create your own Zazzle Store site using our example files. You are free to present your Zazzle products in any context you wish: it’s your web page.

If you’ve added Paul Robinson’s excellent ZStore Helper WordPress Plugin to create a store on your own WordPress site, you already know how handy it is. You set up the plugin and then use simple shortcodes to display products in various grid formats. You can show your own products, or those of anyone else on Zazzle, including famous brands like these:

You can add one store page or one hundred. You can show or not show descriptions, designers and prices. (See *note* below if you have no clue what I’m talking about!)

I’ve been using this plugin for a couple of years. It’s pretty easy to use and your referral code is automatically added to every product once you add it in one place. Paul generously offers ZStore Helper  free of charge. There are other Zazzle plugins I’ve checked out: one of them does a revenue share of every other referral, which is quite high IMO. Another one hasn’t been updated since 2008. That’s too old!

Utilizing the ZStore Helper Plugin

To use the ZStore Helper, you must download the ZSB from Zazzle and the plugin from ReturnTrue. Then you upload (or FTP) them to the WP content folder and move a few files around to make it work. You have to go to the site for the shortcodes also. Not hard–and Paul has EXCELLENT instructions–but a little bit painstaking for some. I also revised the code when I installed it so that all links would open in new windows.

Well, you can simplify that greatly with a premium version of the plugin created by Bill at Skin Ur Site!

Introducing the Premium ZStore Helper Plugin

Paul updated the basic plugin yesterday and Bill correspondingly updated the premium version. According to Paul,

Due to a major update to the Zazzle feed system I have rushed a new update that will permanently maintain backward compatibility for all your shortcodes, even if Zazzle decide to turn off the redirect that they currently have in place. It will also help reduce the strain on their servers caused by that redirecting. This update applies to both the free & premium versions. It is advised you update as soon as possible. Documentation within the plugin & this post has also been updated to match Zazzle’s new string system in regards to products.

What’s different about the premium version?

    • Simplified the install: download one file, upload one file
    • Simplified use of the ZStore Helper Plugin: easier access on WordPress dashboard
    • Open links in new windows already coded
    • Image zoom highlights products

Here’s how the basic plugin looks on the backend and below is the premium plugin. Just a little bit easier to use! Plus, you don’t have to keep going back and forth for the shortcode info. It opens up in a handy window when you click on the highlighted Read the documention.

ZStore Helper plugin

ZStore Helper plugin dashboard screenshot

ZStore Premium Plugin dashboard screenshot

ZStore Premium Plugin dashboard screenshot

To compare the premium version to the prior version, here’s a sample from my WoodswalkerTalk site using the ZStore Helper plugin. I think I modified the box to turn that color. If I recall, it was originally blue and clashed with the site.

Basic plugin

Basic plugin may highlight the chosen product with a box outline

In contrast, the zoom feature (see in action here) on the premium version does this:


Whichever version you choose, you may want to modify two files, which you can do anytime. These are nice, but optional.

  1. zstore.php to add your tracking code
  2. strings.php to revise the error line to include a direct link to your store in case the Zazzle feeds go down. As they sometimes do when Zazzle is making updates on the backend!

Additionally, I simplified the upload of the files after I made my coding changes and sorted all the files into the proper folders. I then zipped them up and loaded them into WordPress directly through Plugins > Add New on the dashboard. If you don’t fight with your FTP the way I fight with mine, you won’t care about that!

Click on this icon to purchase your own copy or the Premium ZStore Plugin!

PremiumZstorePlugin for wordpress and zazzle

Bottom Line

Soooooo . . . if you’re going to add the ZStore Helper plugin to several WordPress sites, want to simplify things, or really like the zoom feature, spend the $5 on the premium version. Bill says you can use it on all your own sites. BONUS: he had a few free ones to give away; you might be able to grab one!


Oh, wait, BTW. . .

What about ZSB 1.5? Is it incorporated here? Will it be?

Ummm, no and it probably won’t be. In answer to my question,  Paul wrote, No sadly 1.5 may never be compatible with WordPress due to various reasons but the biggest one is due to the product pages.

I have no idea why that is. I just hope now that Zazzle will support both versions when 1.5 is officially released!

Do you want a Zazzle store on your blog or website? It’s a pretty easy and effective way to showcase your products OR those of any designers you like. Showcasing your own products is a very good way to sell more of them, of course! And to take advantage of Zazzle’s affiliate program to earn referrals of 15% and additional bonuses up to 17% more. If you want to create your own Zazzle store, you must sign up for Zazzle’s affiliate program and agree to the TOS. To learn more and sign up, click here.

I’ll cover this more in another post, BTW.

Disclosure: I know Bill from Skin Ur Site via interactions with him on a couple of Zazzle-related forums. He kindly provided me with a complimentary early version of this plugin to review and access to subsequent updates.