Tonight we welcome Julie Gomoll and Clark Wimberly to talk about using WordPress for blogging.
Getting Started with WordPress (WP 101) class: Sept. 20th, 7-9pm at Cospace.
Blogathon Austin – Oct. 1st at Link CoWorking. All-day blogging, conversations, tech support for bloggers. Join us!
Julie is a graphic/web designer and entrepreneur. In the 90s Julie started up Go Media, which she sold to Excite. She “rode the internet wave” going from 35 employees to 3500. She started blogging in 2004 or 2005, but when she got into WordPress she felt she could control her own destiny. She feels like she has a lot of power with WordPress without being a coder.
How to develop a content strategy
When you’re planning a blog, you need to have several ideas at hand. You should have a plan for at least a couple of months or you’ll run into trouble. Do they all have to be all long thought-out articles? Actually a mix might be ideal. A long post makes people realize you’re serious. But there’s nothing wrong with a post that’s brief and spontaneous, as in, “this is a cool thing I found today” so you are generating content on a regular basis. A blog is a living thing.
Plugin to help with this process: Editorial Calendar – allows you to plan and schedule your posts.
Actually reposting content is a bad idea because Google will penalize you for duplicate content, even if it’s on another website/blog. But referencing a previous article is a great idea because it will drive more traffic to your site and help with your search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is using keywords, headlines, names of categories and navigation so that when people are searching for things, they will find your blog.
Inserting a link that says “click here” isn’t useful for Google. Instead, make the links contextual, so make your links more along the lines of “see another recipe”.
Coming up with content for your blog
An opportunity for new content that helps also bring traffic to your site: interviews. The subject of your interview will tell their friends, it will add credibility to your site, and is always a good way to generate content if you’re out of ideas. You can ask someone a few questions via email and then post the answers on your blog. Keep in mind that videos are also great but they won’t help you with SEO as much unless there’s a transcription.
Don’t be afraid of controversy!
For photos: try Flickr – search for Creative Commons photos that allow for republishing
What’s the difference between a blog and a website? A blog is a website. It just has posts in chronological order with the most recent on the top.
What are good themes? There are great premium themes (ones you have to pay for) including Thesis and Genesis. There are also a lot of great free themes, but there are also some really bad free themes.
Register with MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc. first; they will then have a plugin that you can add to your site. -
Meenews – lets you style your newsletter to match your blog. (Nick recommended)
WP-Instapay – Sales Processing and Order Fulfillment system (Sandi recommended)
How to monetize your blog
Lots of options.
- Google Adsense – ads on your blog
- Join ad networks in niche markets
- Sell your items – ebooks, merchandise
- Affiliate sites – Amazon Associates, , Commission Junction
(Keep in mind that you need to state that you are receiving compensation for items. You can have a disclaimer page that states that the read can treat all links as endorsements.)
- Free stuff (like ebooks) can generate business leads, mailing lists, etc.
- The best way to monetize your site: If you are becoming an expert and getting traffic, you will gain credibility all over the place. You might be asked to speak at conferences or given other opportunities to consult or write guest blogs – all of which can bring you considerably more compensation than ads or affiliate links will ever achieve.
- Need really compelling content that people want to read
- Are people who are looking for that content able to find it?
- Comment on other blogs
- Do you have compelling headlines?
- Write about issues people are searching for
- Contribute to local print media/newsletter with links to your blog
- Follow other blogs in your field/subject matter and see what they’re writing about (and do this regularly)
Categorizing and Tagging
Categorizing is great for SEO, especially if the category is in your URL.
Tags are not useful unless you have a strategy for using them. Each tag creates new pages and it can lead to site bloat. However, if you tag effectively, it can keep people on the site as they follow the tags like breadcrumbs.
Clark runs the Android and Me blog.
Backup often: use import and export; back up via FTP; backup with phpMyAdmin; store offline with VP (Vault Press) or other backup plugins.
When code editing (CSS, PHP, etc.) – Edit smarter: use a real text editor; avoid the built-in editor; practice version control; run a development server.
Test smarter: use a staging area; run it locally; do it online with subdomain; find a fancy host.
Know the loop
Own your own theme: learn the template hierarchy; create custom templates; make a child or sibling theme
Google like crazy: Answers for everything; try, try again; check the date; copy and paste and tinker