How To Duplicate, Export/Import/Backup, or Copy Bricks in MP Stacks

One of our most requested features for MP Stacks (our page building/designing plugin for WordPress) is to be able to duplicate or copy/paste “Bricks” so that all the design elements can be easily reused. Essentially, any of your existing Bricks can be used as a starting point for a new Brick and save yourself a lot of time.

For example, you might build your page header using a single “Brick” and set the background image, text colors, placements and sizes of all elements, and then want to use that same header on  a different page but just change up a couple of small settings – like maybe change the header text.

It’s kind of hidden, but MP Stacks has a built-in system for copying/pasting “Bricks” so they can be re-used. It’s pretty simple to use.

  1. Open the Brick Editor for the Brick you wish to Copy/Duplicate
  2. Go to the bottom right and look for the icon of a square with an arrow and click on it.
  3. In the dialog that pops-up, click “Export this Brick” and a file will download.
  4. Open that downloaded file with a Text Editing program and copy all text in the file.
  5. Click “Add Brick” in the place you want the new Brick to be on your Website.
  6. Now in the Brick editor for your new Brick, give your new Brick a name at the top of the Brick Editor so you can identify it later.
  7. Next, scroll down to the bottom right again and click on the icon with the square and the arrow.
  8. This time, in the pop-up dialog, click “Import a Brick”.
  9. Paste in the code you copied in step 4 and click “Overwrite Brick”.
  10. That’s it! Your brick will now be duplicated and you can make any changes you wish to make this new Brick unique.

If you have any question about any of that, leave a comment or send us an email to and we’ll be happy to help you out!

Why purchasing a WordPress Child Theme might be a mistake.

What is a Child Theme in WordPress?

WordPress has something called “Child Themes” which are essentially mini themes that sit on top of a “parent” theme. The Child Themes give you a way to change the look and feel of the parent WordPress theme.

Why use a Child Theme at all?

At this point, you might be asking: “Why would I want to use a Child Theme when I can just change the code of the “parent” (or “normal”) WordPress Theme”. You might know how to hack a bit of CSS and swap in your own code here and there – enough to make it work.

Well, here’s the important part of Child Themes: They allow you to modify the look/feel of the parent theme without changing any of the parent theme’s code.

Why does it matter if I change Parent Theme’s Code?

If there’s 1 thing I’ve learned in making WordPress Themes for the last decade, it’s that code projects are NEVER done. Many things are changing on the internet every day. Whether it’s hackers finding new ways of breaking security or even just browsers updating the way they do things, the internet – and the way it displays/does things – is always changing and evolving.

This means that your WordPress Theme is likely going to need updates. When a WordPress Theme gets updated, it deletes ALL of the previous theme code and overwrites it with the updated theme code.

If you made changes to the Theme’s code, it is going to be lost when you update! This is why it is so important NOT to change the Parent (or, again, “Normal”) Theme’s code. Here is where Child Themes come in:

Child Themes let you modify your Theme without changing any of the Parent Theme’s Code.

If you want to modify the header of your theme, just copy the header.php file in your Parent Theme’s folder and paste it into your Child Theme’s folder. This will let WordPress know to ignore the header.php file in the Parent Theme folder and to use your new one in the Child Theme folder. Now, you can modify any of the code you want in the header.php file and it wont be lost if/when you update the Parent Theme! Pretty genius right? The same thing will work for ANY file you place into your child theme. So to re-cap:

If you put a file called “header.php” in your Child Theme, WordPress will use THAT file instead of the one in the Parent Theme. Make sense? I hope so! (Let me know in the comments if this is still confusing and I’ll try to clarify it further).

Child Themes are great.

I love Child Themes and the way they allow me to tweak little things here and there in my websites. As my websites grow and change, I love the power that adding a couple of code lines to my child theme gives me over the look/feel/functionality of my websites. Even with MP Stacks, I can hide specific Bricks on specific pages by adding a simple “.BODY_CLASS_HERE #mp-brick-BRICK_ID_HERE{ display:none; }” to my child theme’s css file.

This all leads me to a strange trend in WordPress that I am confused by: Buying/Selling child themes.

If you buy a Child Theme and it needs an update, it defeats the purpose of Child Themes.

If someone sells you a Child Theme, it might as well be called a Parent Theme. Child Themes are intended to be custom to you – by you. This is their purpose: to give you a way of making your theme customized.

However, if you are buying a child theme, that means other people are buying that same child theme – and that means that it will eventually need to be updated by someone who isn’t you. When they release that update, it will overwrite your customized code – and it’s no different than if you installed the Theme without a Child Theme at all.

I find this way of doing things to be very strange. It defeats to original and stated purpose of Child Themes. It goes against WordPress standards and knowingly misleads users into thinking Child Themes are something other than what they were supposed to be – a way to customize your website. This type of product-creation-behaviour is frustrating because it leads to user confusion and fragmentation within WordPress – where official WordPress things lose their meaning.

There is no such thing as a Grandchild Theme – so be careful.

At this point in time, there isn’t a way to make a Child Theme for a Child Theme (or a Grandchild Theme if you will). There won’t be a simple way for you to customize a Child Theme or replace elements you wish to change. So be careful. I recommend only buying themes that are “Parent” themes – which will allow you to create a Child Theme and customize it as you need.

Here’s a Free Theme and Child Theme for WordPress to get you started in the right direction:

If you’re looking for a great “Blank Canvas” type WordPress Theme that will allow for a lot of easy customization, check out our free theme called “Knapstack Theme“. It utilizes the MP Stacks Page building plugin. We also have a free Child Theme that goes with it and can help you get your Child Theme off the ground the right way! Download the knapstack-child-theme.

Without good photography, any WordPress Theme will look bad.

without-great-photography-your-wordpress-theme-sucksIf you’re someone who’s purchased a WordPress theme before, you might relate to this experience: You see a theme that looks great in the demo before you purchase. However, once you install the theme, you realize that all of the great photography that you saw in the demo doesn’t come with the theme – and it’s looking pretty darn plain!

If you’re a photographer and you’ve got some great photos that match your website’s color-scheme and brand, you’re all set! However, if you’re not a photographer you might find yourself stuck at this point. You might feel “duped” by the theme seller – who made their “demo” look great by purchasing a lot of great Stock Photography – but they neglected to tell you that they’d spent over $1000 on Stock Photography to make their Theme’s demo look great.

We want to do things a bit differently, better.

When you purchase one of our themes, we have either taken the photos in-house or used 100% royalty free photos for all major design elements. Aside from some of our wordPress wedding themes (where you would assuredly want replace the photos of another couple with your own), we make sure that you have the license to use the photos in our “demos”, and that they are delivered with the theme when you purchase. Not only are they delivered, but they are uploaded DIRECTLY to the places they need to be on your website.

Great Photos Included, but still easy to swap.

Because all of our Theme Bundles are powered by MP Stacks (our page building WordPress Plugin), you can easily swap out any photo that comes with a Bundle. This is an extremely simple tool for those who have photos of their own that they want to use with the Theme. And so, while we make it super simple to change any photos, you also get great photography with all of our themes in-the-box.

Where to get some great photos for free:

If you’ve purchased a theme from another company and had this sinking feeling directly after purchasing – realizing that the photos aren’t included and the theme looks really “empty” now, there are a few things you could try. There are some great free photo websites out there that allow you to use their photos at no extra cost.  One of our favourites is UnSplash –

How to eliminate pesky Analytics Spammers

Note: Our “Master List” of Spam websites-to-block is at the bottom of this post.

If you’ve set up Google Analytics on your website, you might have noticed some weird websites being listed as “referrers”. There’s a new, pretty annoying spammer trick out there now where the spammer will send fake “visits” to your website from their own website. This makes their website “rise the ranks” on your analytics list of referrers, and it makes you – the site owner – go and check out there website. Pretty sneaky huh?

That’s only half of the annoying part. The main problem is that now you don’t actually know who is linking to you! This can be a major problem – but there is a pretty simple way to fix it. You can tell Google Analytics to “block” referrals from specific websites and it really easy to do.

Step 1:

Go go and log in.

Step 2:

Make sure you are on the “Admin” tab at the top of the page.


Step 3:

In the middle “properties” column, click on “Tracking Info” > “Referral Exclusion List”.


Step 5:

Click the “+ ADD REFERRAL EXCLUSION” button and type in all the domains that you want to block.

Tip: When you are entering a domain to block, you can adda “star” or “asterisk” (*) before the domain to also block any subdomains from that site. For example:, etc. (Website spammers are actually doing this and it could take you a long time to enter each subdomain individually – so this will save some time).

The “Master Spammer List”:

Because there are so many of these spammers popping up, we are going to keep a master list of all the spammy websites here so you can easily add the entire list to your website – instead of fighting with each one for months – only to find another has popped up. If you find a spammer domain on your website’s analytics that isn’t on this list – please let us know in the comments below and we’ll make sure to add it. This way we can all work together to eliminate every last one of these annoying spammers and get back to working on our websites!

Block These Sites:

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Blocking the bots (advanced)

Ideally, we’d prevent these bots from accessing our site AT ALL as they are draining resources needlessly. There are ways to block them entirely using htaccess (if you use apache) and in your sites-available file (if you use nginx). I won’t get into that in this blog post – but there are a lot of great resources out there for blocking evil bots altogether.

Here’s a link for Apache (htaccess):

Here’s a link for NGINX:

Because I use NGINX for all my web servers I will add my code for how I block these spammers from my server altogether. In the “nginx/sites-available/” file, under “location / {” I add the following if statement which blocks most spammers:

if ($http_referer ~* (seo|babes|click|girl|jewelry|love|organic|poker|porn|sex|teen|video|webcam|semalt|simple-share-buttons||googlsucks|buttons-for-your-website|theguardlan|myftpupload|4webmasters|social-buttons|hulfingtonpost||| ) {
return 405;

Have more sites to add to this list? Help everyone out and let us know in the comments below.

Tip for Productivity

When you work for yourself, it can be hard to force yourself to stay on task and stay as productive as you’d like to be. One thing I’ve found to be really useful in keeping me focused is my to-do list.

updogI often get distracted by new and shiny things – much like the dog from “UP”…SQUIRREL! I believe that if I were born today I’d be on ritalin for sure (thank goodness I dodged that bullet!). Without going too far off topic, I really view this attention-deficit-type way of thinking as a positive thing – if I can harness it properly.

But unharnessed, I often find that while I’m waiting for a page to load, file to backup, or program to open (which can be fractions of a second), I’ve already wandered off to Twitter or Facebook to “kill time” while I’m waiting. By the time the page loads, I can find it hard to remember exactly what I was working on when I started, and I end up losing 5 minutes instead of just the 10 seconds it took to load a page.

Bring in the To-Do list! My to-do list gives me something to glance at, remind myself what I am working on, and re-focus quickly. I use this technique hundreds of times per day so it has to be quick in order to be effective.

Separate To-Do Lists:

As I touched on before, I have a mind that likes to wander and can be very imaginative – which is a double-edged sword. It gives me tons of inspiration to work on for new ideas and code inventions but I can also and up wasting a lot of time just sitting and thinking. One way I’ve found to take advantage of these thoughts, but not let them kill my productivity on current projects, is to create a SEPARATE to-do list for the long term and the short term.

I call the long term one my “Long Term To-Do List” (creative, I know). This is for ideas I know will take a lot of time and need to be thought out more clearly before starting them.

My short term list is called my “Immediate To Do” list and it gets updated dozens of times per day as I accomplish different micro tasks.

This way, I have a place to put my “Big Idea” thoughts AND a place to put the things I really need to accomplish TODAY.

I have been using Evernote for my To-Do lists lately – which is great because it syncs to my iPhone – which allows me to be anywhere when I come up with a “Big Idea” and write it on my iPhone quickly – and when I get back to my desk I can re-format the text more clearly and have it ready when I need it. Evernote also sits conveniently in my dock at the bottom of my screen so I can “flip” to it hundreds of times per day to help me re-focus after getting distracted.

Having a place to put my tasks and ideas has really helped me to be more productive, capitalize on many ideas, and even sleep better at night!

I hope these little tips can help you to stay productive as well – especially if you have a mind that wanders like I do.

Changing your scenery is key!

If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time at your desk quietly working away and you’re pretty happy doing it. I wouldn’t say I’m an introvert. I’m more of a half-and-half type of person. I like to be outgoing and meet new people – but when I’m working, I’d rather just be left alone in my own little hole to get stuff done and tinker away on my next invention.

But come February you might find yourself experiencing a case of the blah’s and find yourself doing more fidgeting than figuring-out stuff. So how do I go about staying on task to make sure I get stuff done?

Change up your scenery. What do I mean by this? Well, while your desk and your chair are pretty awesome, and they’ll always be your go-to place, sometimes changing it up a bit is all it takes to help you settle back into a work-flow.

I know a lot of people are starting to use standing-desks, which is great, BUT you’re still chained to your desk (if its one of those desks that raises up and down). Also, be careful not to stand for too long (read more about that here).

What I’m talking about is something a little different. Take a few hours and set up standing at your kitchen counter

My piano-stand, portable desk.

My piano-stand, portable desk.

(when nobody’s using it of course…food, drinks, and laptops don’t mix very well). Or maybe set up on the couch for an hour until you feel ready to get back to your desk. I like to make workstations out of anything I have around at the time. It could be a stack of boxes beside a big window, or a piano stand with a board on top that I can move anywhere in my house!

After a few hours of a changed up environment, my brain is working better, my posture improves, and my work is getting done. Bottom line: Changing up my workspace constantly has improved my workflow – and maybe it can for you too! Give it a try.

Are you a Developer & new to Git? This is an awesome read!

Are you a developer who is just getting started with using Git? Perhaps you’re feeling kind of lost and don’t know where to start. It can feel like trying to fly an airplane in the dark with forks in your eyes. If that’s you, don’t give up! Keep going – and here’s a really awesome and free e-book from the makers of Tower – which is also a great way to manage Git Projects if you use a mac and don’t feel super comfortable with using the Command Line.

Check it out!

A way to save money at Trade Shows

I was recently doing some work for a client who wanted to show their website at a Trade Show – but the Trade Show was only providing internet for $1500 per booth for 2 days!!! To us it was too crazy to pay that much – and so instead, we built a local version of their websites on their laptop so they could properly show the site off – without needing internet. We did this without even needing to change the domain name – by simply temporarily telling their computer to point to a local directory on their hardrives when visiting that URL.

A bulk of this I got from this post here:

The general idea was to set up a MAMP on their laptops, create a virtual host file for the site, and then modify their hosts file to point the domain at their local IP ( instead of at their website.

Just something to consider if you’re in the same boat! All of the info you need is in that post above to set this up 🙂

Image Used: “IBM CeBIT 2010” by Patrick from Garbsen, Germany – IBM. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –



Backups on a mac.

I do a lot of work on my Mac using a MAMP install. All of my code is written, tested, and stored here.

I made a major mistake today when testing the new beta version of WordPress – I overwrote my wp-content folder in WordPress! Unfortunately, there is no going back after this happens. Even Edit > Undo wasn’t going to work because I moved/replaced too many files.

The only option I had at that point was to bite the bullet, accept my losses, and revert to my latest backup – which was from 2 weeks ago. So, while a huge pain, 2 weeks of work lost isn’t the end of the world.


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