Guide to Writing a Winning Proposal

An on-going discussion about starting and building a successful, freelance WordPress business…

Last month we discussed finding clients for your Freelance business. At this month’s Deep Dive Discussion, Nick and Sandi Batik demonstrated tools and processes that help you write a winning proposal, even if you are an introvert.

Right-brained or left brained, creative or analytical, the Introverted Freelancer needs to suss out what problem your client is asking you to solve. The discussion focused on  defining the client’s problem and converting that problem statement into a proposal that defines how you will  meet the clients’ needs and help improve their bottom line.

There is the link to the notes and slide deck for the Austin WordPress Deep Dive Discussion Meetup April 11. 2016:

Freelancer’s Guide to Writing a Winning Proposal -1
https://handsonwp.com/freelancers-guide-writing-winning-proposal/

Freelancer’s Guide to Writing a Winning Proposal-2
https://handsonwp.com/introverted-freelancers-guide-writing-winning-proposal/

Finding Your Company’s Voice

The March WordPress Practitioner’s Meetup was the first in a series of “The Business of WordPress” topics our member’s have requested. Our WP Practitioners attendees are about evenly divided between business owners and mangers who use WordPress daily in their businesses, and WordPress Freelancers, Developers and Implementors who are building and maintaining WordPress sites for businesses. When the organizers read your topic requests, we approached small business specialist, Sarah Flaherty about presenting to our group.

Sarah’s tag line is, “Let me think outside the box for you,” illustrates her love for helping emerging businesses and her creativity. In today’s world, there is no unique business, there is only uniqueness. Finding your unique voice is the first and foremost need of a successful business or Freelancer.

Your firm’s voice is the single­most important business fundamental, and it is often ignored in our WordPress Community of Developers and Designers. Consumers no longer shop locally, they shop globally on their terms. This makes competition to get their attention, and keep it, fierce. You must be in constant communication with your clients in order to maintain sales and growth. However, you can’t achieve this through a great logo and a fabulous website. You must engage directly with your clients, and this requires you to have a curated voice; consumers flock to you and become your loyal evangelists when they hear and experience your care of them consistently ­ when they know your firm’s personality, what and why it’s passionate about, and what they can always count on.

Sarah C. Flaherty of LUV, LLC will briefly discuss the need to find your voice, how to shape it, and what to do with it once you’ve found it ­ with a focus on social media. This presentation will be followed by a group project that allows you to take a company from conception to initial client communication and will show you the importance of aligning your company’s mission statement with your visuals and content. This will help you better understand your need to content curate to find your firm’s unique voice and how to use it going forward.

With  some of Sarah’s tips and tricks you’ll find that not only will you better understand the hows and whys of what you want to do, but you’ll be better able to focus potential clients’ attention on your business, and keep it.  The WPATX Organizers want to thank Sarah Flaherty for a wonderful presentation and a fun workshop to demonstrate refining and channeling our business brand. Thanks to all our members who displayed amazing creativity and sense of humor -Sarah made learning fun!

Below please find a PDF of Sarah’s Slides and her contact info if you have any questions.

 

How to Find Your Company Voice

 

The Introverted Freelancer’s Guide to Finding Clients

March 14, 2016 Deep Dive Discussion about starting and building a successful  freelance business…

Last month we discussed the tools and processes that can help our members build an efficient, effective Freelance business. Several members contacted us and asked us to follow up that presentation with a straight forward conversation about how to find and build a profitable client base. So in  this month’s Deep Dive Discussion, Nick and Sandi Batik focused on how to find and on-board clients for your freelance business, even if you are an introvert.

Many of our WPATX members expressed that it can seem daunting to start a freelance WordPress Consulting business. We talked about where to  start; what specialized services you are best suited to offer;  and how to find clients. The goal for this month’s Deep Dive Discussion was to examine how to build a healthy freelance WordPress practice that supports you and delights your clients.

You can find “The Introverted Freelancer’s Guide to Finding Clients” notes and slides here: https://handsonwp.com/introverted-freelancers-guide-finding-clients/

Fun with WP CLI

Add yourself as an admin user
wp user create myusername email@email.com --role=administrator --user_pass='password'

Quickly reset a list of user passwords
wp user list
wp user update user1 user2 --user_pass='password'

Correct URLs after DB migration
wp option update siteurl 'http://domain.com'
wp option update home 'http://domain.com'
wp search-replace 'olddomain.com' 'newdomain.com'

Generate MySQL prompt
wp db cli

Regenerate thumbs
wp media regenerate

Convert to subdomain multisite install
wp core multisite-convert --title='My Network' --subdomains

Update the title for page with slug ‘about’
wp post list --pagename=about
wp post update <post ID> --post_title='New Title'

Update ‘Mood: Happy’ to ‘Mood: Sad’ for the same page, without knowing the name of the field
wp post meta list <post ID>
wp post meta update <post ID> my_mood 'Sad'

Remove unneeded themes
wp theme list
wp theme delete themename1 themename2

Toggle state of plugins ( active / inactive )
wp plugin toggle plugin1 plugin2

Create new empty child theme
wp scaffold child-theme <slug> --parent_theme=<slug> [--theme_name=<title>] [--author=<full-name>] [--author_uri=<uri>] [--theme_uri=<uri>] [--activate]

Ex:
wp scaffold child-theme my-child --parent_theme=genesis --theme_name='My Child' --author='Pat Ramsey' --author_uri=http://testsite.com --theme_uri=http://testsite.com --activate

User Experience in the Real World

Presentation by Clark Wimberly

Links/slides from presentation here: http://clarklab.com/talks/user-experience

Pros and cons of common UX blunders

What is UX?

  • What a user experiences
  • study of rules
  • guiding emotions
  • worth their time

UI vs UX

  • UI = User interface – what the user interacts with. Buttons, etc.
  • User Experience – how the interface makes them feel
  • Married but not the same

Paywalls – generally a bad user experience

  • Pros:
    • Registered user
    • who can we spam
  • Cons:
    • another registration for a user
    • they can spam me
  • Business goals can go against user experience
  • Can cause users to leave

Having a page with a slideshow/multiple pages/lots of content to click through

  • Pros:
    • pageviews
  • Cons
    • no one likes clicking
    • users won’t see content
    • harder to author
  • Solutions:
    • Don’t do it
    • View as one page
    • if you want page views, force reload
    • Lazy load plugins to help with bandwidth-heavy sites
    • Sub-navigation/table of contents – can work, but make sure it’s apparent what it is

Social lockers

  • Idea: hold desirable content hostage for likes, subscriptions, etc.
  • Pros:
    • Fans! Followers
  • Cons:
    • Annoying
    • Look like an awkward shill
    • Hit and runs
  • Solutions:
    • Generate value with social
    • Interact with followers
    • Treat it like a subscription service
    • share with @mentions and #hashtags and +names
    • Look for organic activity
    • Keep social interesting and then market to them… don’t market 100% of the time
    • If you use a lot of hashtags you’re probably doing it wrong

Newsletters

Idea: get a bunch of emails and get inside their inbox

  • Pros:
    • Pageviews! Opens!
    • Connect with fans – Great way to give fans an inside scoop
  • Cons:
    • Possibly annoying
    • Look like an awkward shill
    • Breaking the law if you do it wrong
  • Solutions:
    • Be useful
    • Easy to unsubscribe
    • Respect method of email collection
    • Don’t buy lists (or sell, or transfer)
    • Use the email list for what you tell subscribers it’s for – don’t change it up on them
    • Build trust and you might get whitelisted

Accessibility

Idea: make sure that everyone that wants to use your website can. Can be both dealing with physical impairments, but also can mean devices

Responsive design

  • Solutions
    • Use a responsive theme
    • Use a responsive plugin (Jetpack)
    • If neither of those are an option, at least make sure your desktop site isn’t broken so the site can be zoomed in and out, avoids flash
  • Gotchas
    • Readability
    • Image/page weight
    • Performance

Storyboards

  • Visualize the customer/user experience
  • Pros
    • You can get in the user’s head
    • Optimize the flow
    • Concrete goals for planning and arguments
  • Cons
    • Hard truths – learn what doesn’t work
    • Takes time
  • Go nuts
    • Hyper optimize steps
    • Google analytics goals at key steps
    • Make storyboard-based decisions

Personas

  • Who’s using the site
    • Age
    • Gender
    • Interests
    • Skills

Guerilla testing

  • Over the shoulder testing – just watch people use your site
  • Sentiment testing – which of these versions do you trust, find easiest, etc.
  • Drunk user testing – actually watch people test a site when they’ve been drinking. Drops their guard, scattered
  • usertesting.com
  • peek.usertesting.com
  • verifyapp.com

Tools of the attack

  • Analytics (Google, Jetpack, others)
  • InVision
  • UXPin
  • Balsamiq – wireframing
  • Mockingbird – wireframing in the browser
  • Omnigraffle

Doggie bag – what you’re leaving with tonight

  • Think of the user
  • Think ahead of the user
  • React to the user

 

 

Intro to browser tools: Understanding the technical aspects of Firebug

Presented by Nick Batik, Pleiades Services

Firebug is a Firefox extension

To get it, go to Firefox menu under Tools > Add-ons and search for Firebug and install it into your browser.

Firebug allows you to go under the hood of your browser. You can view and change the code on any website to see what’s running and what you can do to modify it. All changes are temporary in your own browser and do not affect the live site. This is a great way to learn HTML and CSS as well as a great tool for designing new sites and modifying existing sites.

To turn on Firebug, look for the small lightning bug in your browser under the address bar. That will open up a window  under the website content; you can also open it as a separate window.

Once you have a console open, you can inspect the CSS, HTML or Javascript for any website (one running WordPress or not!). You can modify any code you wish, but none of it will be saved on the browser. You will need to save it to a file and upload it to your server for the changes to take effect. Firebug just allows for inspecting, previewing and testing code changes.

From here, Nick demonstrated how to use Firebug, which is difficult to capture in a blog post. Until we can get his video uploaded, here are some links to tutorials you can check out:

  • StudioPress’ tutorial: http://www.studiopress.com/tips/using-firebug
  • Chris Coyier’s CSS-Tricks screencast: http://css-tricks.com/video-screencasts/15-introduction-to-firebug/
  • The Firebug Tutorial Series: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdIk2PztcL0

Nick mentioned the DOM tab in Firebug and explained  briefly how to use it to identify areas of a page that can be modified with Javascript. You can read more about this here: https://getfirebug.com/dom

The Layout tab will show you how much space a selected element takes up on the page.

For the Javascript tab, here’s another tutorial: https://getfirebug.com/javascript

 

 

Meetup: Dashboard and Post Formats

This week’s Focus on Content WordPress features a discussion of your WordPress Dashboard and what Post Formats are (and why you should care!), led by Corey Ellis and Bobbie Wilson.

To start out, Corey explained the features of the Dashboard itself. He showed the Google Analytics Dashboard plugin, which shows a snapshot of Google Analytics on the Dashboard home page.

He explained the Quick Post widget, great to use if you want to make a quick update from the Dashboard.

The Adminimize plugin will allow you to modify your Dashboard options to hide sections that you either don’t need. The Developer Mode plugin will allow you to hide features that you don’t want a client to have access to.

To add functions to your Dashboard there are tons of plugins that can add functionality to your admin area.

Using WordPress Roles, you can assign levels of access to different users.

Pages and Posts:

  • Pages: static pieces of content. One piece of content that isn’t going to change much. About me page, Contact me page, etc.
  • Posts: generally thought of as blog posts. You will be generating posts more often. Can be a blog, news releases, quotes, or other things that you want to add as new content, usually in a dated format.
  • Keep in mind that most themes will display a “page” slightly differently from a “post”. For example, most themes will display a date and author for a post, but not for a page.
  • You can have child pages which are hierarchical – you have a page that is a child of a parent page. This is how drop down menus work. Posts do not have the same hierarchy.

Categories and Tags:

  • Allow you to differentiate content.
  • You could have a category called “Dogs” and then have child categories of that category. Tags, however, have no hierarchy.
  • Plugin Term Management Tools allows you manage your categories and tags.
  • Tag clouds – there’s a Tag Cloud widget you can use in the standard WordPress installation. There are also other plugins that add extra functionality.
  • A good, responsible use of tags and categories can help users navigate your site better, and may help improve your SEO.

Comments:

  • Usually only on posts, but this is theme dependent. Comments, with the right plugins, can be used for more things, like reviews. They are reader-created content that are attached to a specific post. Some themes have CSS attributes that can hide all comments that way.
  • Settings > Discussion is where you can modify your comments settings. You can restrict who can comment, or turn off comments altogether.
  • Akismet – a plugin that ships with WordPress. The cost is on a sliding scale – you can contribute as much as you want to the project, but it is free if you don’t want to pay for it. It will require you to connect to WordPress.com, so if you don’t have a WordPress.com account (also free) you will be directed to set one up.

Plugins:

  • Plugins allow you to do pretty much anything you want to do to extend the functionality of WordPress
  • Go to http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins to search for plugins.
  • All plugins on WordPress.org are free and maintained by the developers who created them, and are created as the plugin developers’ way to contribute to the community. Some are better than others. Look at the comments, if the plugin is recently updated and compatible with the current version of WordPress, and most importantly, check to see if the author is actively paying attention (there is a link to the support forums on the plugin page).
  • You can also search on Google to find  other plugins, including premium ($$) plugins.
  • Google Fonts plugin: WP Google Fonts . Recommended that for purposes of design, you restrict a website to two fonts.

WordPress Codex:

  • The WordPress Codex documentation on how to use all of the functions within WordPress. This is all maintained by the WordPress community.

Post Formats:

  • Post Formats have been around for a while
  • Post format Documentation in the WordPress Codex
  • New theme Twenty Thirteen (still in beta, will be included in the upcoming WordPress 3.6 release) (information on how to download it prior to release at WPTuts)
  • Different formats will format a post differently depending on which one you choose.
  • There was a new user interface that was scheduled to release with WordPress 3.6 but has been pulled from that release
  • If you don’t see the Post Formats, you can turn them on with your Screen Options tab at the very top of your editor window (unless your theme does not support them)

Mobile posting:

  • Post by Email (Be sure to use a secure email)
  • The official WordPress mobile app is a great way to post from a mobile device

How Everything Has Changed – Social Media

Announcements

 


 

How Everything Has Changed… but nothing is new

A discussion about social media with Thomas Umstattd Jr.


Technology cannot be good or evil

There are times when technology favors the powerful

  • e.g television commercials – only the powerful could afford commercials, so smaller companies could not compete

And when technology favors the weak

  • e.g. the American Revolution
  • Today Twitter is like the musket of the Revolution – technology that both the strong and weak have access to
  • Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia

Sometimes technological change is necessary

  • As the technology for hunting large animals got easier, it became harder to find food – they transitioned to agriculture, using animals to help them raise their own food
  • The old way – television commercials
  • The new way – YouTube, blogs, podcasts

How technology has changed how we communicate

  • One to one
  • One to many – e.g. leader to people
  • Many to one – e.g. voting
  • Many to many – feels new but it dates back to a community sharing stories around a campfire
  • Twitter allows people to bypass mainstream media

Push – things that get sent without the receiver’s permission, including letters, phone calls, email; but spam makes email less appealing

  • The line between charming and creepy (for people, or for email) = permission
  • Email marketing needs to be based around permission

Pull – the user chooses to welcome the communication into their life

Twitter (and Google+) weed out the boring

  • Twitter is a meritocracy – you have to earn followers
  • You have to “set yourself on fire”
  • Do not ever post what you’re doing right now
  • Scientifically most people can’t have more than 150 friends; followers/acquaintances don’t care
  • Instead, answer “what is interesting to you right now” – which could be the same thing as what you’re doing. If it’s not interesting to you, it’s not interesting to anyone else
  • What would be interesting to your followers – which means, who are your followers?

Facebook weeds out boring in a different way – How does Facebook decide what shows up at the top of your feed

  • Likes – the more likes you have, the more people will see you on Facebook; don’t complain, but make your posts more positive
  • Comments – someone who commented in the past is more likely to see your post in the future. Ask questions, do a fill-in-the-blank.
  • Social proximity – mutual friends means your post will be more likely to show up on someone’s feed
  • Freshness – the older your post, the more likely it will be to fall off. Space out your Facebook updates. Pages can now auto-schedule posts. Remember some people do Facebook at work, others don’t.
  • Previous interactions – if someone liked your posts in the past, they will likely like it in the future
  • Promotion – you can pay to appear on the top; this is the only way people on mobile will see your ads
  • Content reputation – Text, links, videos, etc. Facebook loves photos the most, text next.

Principle – how to set yourself on fire; aka theCalrissian Principle

  • reciprocity – do something for someone else first before you expect them to do something for you
  • Plant grain now to get more grain in the future
  • Ask, who is my audience – and embrace them; who is not my audience
  • How can I thrill them? (If they aren’t thrilled, they won’t engage or share)
  • One tip to rule them all – type your question into Google (e.g. “how do I get more followers on Twitter?”) – Let me Google that for you
  • See Lesson 2 – how to measure engagement & Virality (Scroll down)
  • Don’t forget to advertise to existing fans

Questions/Discussion:

  • How to target advertising for authors? Thomas recommends GoodReads
  • For businesses, target users of existing Facebook pages. You can set the name of a page as a specific interest
  • Facebook needs to figure out how to do mobile well, especially the ads. Instagram figured it out, so Facebook hopes they can build on that by buying them.
  • Baby boomers joined Facebook before Gen X because they wanted to see what their kids were doing, and it jumped a generation; meanwhile Twitter favors Gen X
  • Google+ is something to watch: it’s used by the technocratic elite, highest average income; it has the best support, less noise, elements of reddit and stumbleupon
  • Google Hangouts allows you to go “On Air” which broadcasts to YouTube and archives the video after
  • The trend to use social media in political campaigns takes power away from the mainstream media and puts information and news into people’s hands to help make decisions
  • Political campaigns – now more about social media than television advertising
  • How to manage time and social media networks. Go to question “who is my audience” and focus on that one. You may need to ask your customers where they hang out. Use your phone to send out messages rather than when you’re on your computer. Don’t use third-party apps on Facebook for the purpose of putting content out there.
  • Two books Thomas recommends: Inbound Marketing and The New Rules of Marketing & PR
  • Also check out Thomas on bestsellerssociety.com

Final point: Kennedy beat Nixon because Nixon failed to adapt to the new technology.

Thomas’ parting words: don’t be Nixon.

Understanding the Basics of WordPress Media

 

Ideas

We polled our attendees for ideas for upcoming Hands on WordPress meetups. If you have a topic you’d like to hear, please comment on this post and we’ll add it to our list!

 

Announcements:

Jackie Dana (hey that’s me!) is a new Happiness Engineer at Automattic. I’ll be able to work from home, so you’re stuck with me! 🙂

Deb Schmidt is moving back to Michigan. We’ll miss you Deb!

We are adding new features, including a login option, on our WPAustin.com website, which is where you are right now. Be sure to sign up and participate in our discussion forums!

 

Next meetup:

Next week: July 3rd, 7pm, new location: 16th floor of the Omni Hotel (7th and Brazos) at the Capitol Factory offices. Look for announcement on Meetup.com coming soon!

 

Main topic: Understanding the Basics of WordPress Media Features

Presenter: Eric Weiss

Demonstration live on a brand new WordPress install, using the Twenty Eleven theme.

Media Settings:

  • Image Sizes – different themes will have different settings here; you can modify your settings if you need to do so.
  • Uploading files – you can change the default location to upload files; usually you should just leave this alone. Organizing uploads into month and year based folders – usually a good idea to leave this checked.

Adding media:

  • You can add files by dragging and dropping into the box. You can select multiple images and drag them in all at once.
  • You can add media from a URL, but note that this can be risky. Usually this is a good option only if linking from an image hosting site such as imgur.com or Flickr.
  • Title – will display when you hover over the image.
  • Alternative text – this is the “alt tag”. It is what search engines, screen readers see; also what is displayed when images are not displayed. Very important for SEO. Will be given more priority over title. You should always include alt text if the image is content for your site/blog (though not for decorative images).
  • Caption – adds a caption under the image.
  • Description – information for your own use.
  • Link URL – if you want to link image to another site/page.
  • Alignment – will determine where the image displays in relation to your text.
  • Size – options are determined by size of original image. You may not get all of the options on an image.
  • Attachment Post URL – allows you to link to a different display of the image
  • Using the File URL will allow you to link the thumbnail to a full-sized file that is suitable for printing.

Once you have inserted an image, in the Editor window you can click on image and edit the image. This opens up a box to Advanced Settings that allows you more fine-tuning of the the size of the image and other settings.

All images you add to a post will display in your Media Library. The Attached to column will show you which post(s) or page(s) the image appears on.

Edit Image button:

  • In the Media Library if you click “edit” under the image you can crop, flip, rotate or resize an image right within WordPress.
  • Using the crop option you can modify your thumbnail image. By default it selects a section from the center of the image but by cropping and applying to thumbnail only, you can change how the thumbnail displays.

Inserting a Gallery:

  • A gallery is a display of all images, as thumbnails, attached to a post or page.
  • Once you have multiple images on a single post or page, the gallery option will show up at the bottom of the listing of images attached to that page. You get a variety of options including how many columns to display and what the thumbnail will link to.
  • When you insert the gallery you will get a shortcode (in your HTML editor you will see the shortcode in brackets [ ] ).

Featured Image:

  • You can set the featured image on a post/page in an option on the right side of your editor window. This will display as the main image for that page, and how it looks (and the required dimensions) will be theme-dependent.
  • Some themes don’t use featured images, some rely on them for the homepage layout, so this is something to consider when choosing your theme. Many themes that have sliders on the homepage will be using featured image option as well.
  • The featured image is also the image that will be associated with your post on Facebook, Google, etc.
  • You can also choose to select an image as your featured image when you upload the image.

Plugins:

There are a lot of plugins that allow you to modify and manipulate your images. A few ideas:

  • NextGEN Gallery creates its own media library
  • IMSanity allows you to specify the maximum file size you want to upload.
  • Vintage JS allows you to make your images look, well, vintage.
  • Add from Server allows you to import media & files into the WordPress uploads manager from the Webservers file.
  • SSDownloads is a plugin that will allow you to require an email address for a file download.
  • JW Player can be nice for flash videos.

Embedded video:

  • You can insert a YouTube link directly into your blog and it will create an embed link automatically.
  • YouTube will give you some options that you can modify and get more specific embed code.
  • If you want more control, WordTube gives you a bunch of configuration options.
  • Append code at the end of your YouTube video to get it to start later in the video. So #t=30s starts the video 30 seconds in. You can change the 30 to any seconds, or put in m instead of s for minutes. Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycLFcMUd64U#t=30s .

 

You have questions? We’ve got the answers!

What’s the difference between plugins and widgets?

WordPress comes with some widgets by default, but to add additional widgets, usually you will need to install a plugin.

Widget areas will be defined by your theme. Widget areas are content areas outside of your main content area. Sometimes you will have widget areas in your header or footer, but most commonly you will have widgets in a sidebar.

You will find your widgets in the Widget area under Appearance in your Dashboard. To use them, you can drag and drop the ones you want into the different widget areas on the right, and modify them as needed.

Plugins extend the core functionality of WordPress. Some plugins create widgets, but not all of them. Maybe you need a calendar or the ability to display additional information about authors. These functions can be addressed with a plugin. (For people on self-hosted WordPress sites only; WordPress.com sites do not have plugins).

You can read more about widgets in the WordPress codex.
How do you find a good plugin?

Search in the Plugin Directory.

When you get your list of results, click on a plugin and in the information screen, consider the following (in more or less this order of priority):

  • When the plugin was last updated (is it being maintained? Or is it old and likely forgotten?)
  • What version of WordPress it is compatible with (is it compatible with the most recent version of WordPress?)
  • How many downloads the plugin has (if it’s a large number, that may raise confidence)
  • If anyone reports it broken or not (not always a reliable measure)
  • What people are talking about in the forums concerning this plugin
  • What the rating is (note that sometimes a five-star rating may be based on very few votes)

You can search for plugins on the WordPress.org Plugin Directory.

 

How do I use video?

You can embed videos on your website using Youtube or other video services by including the link to the video in your blog, without even needing a plugin.

For example, below is a video on WordPress.tv. All I did to embed it was post the following URL into my visual editing window (without any special code):
http://wordpress.tv/2009/01/05/embedding-youtube-videos-into-your-wordpresscom-posts/

 

Hosting

Some people may want to move their hosting from a regular, shared hosting account to a virtual private server (VPS) or a racked server, you most often become your own server administrator. You can get better service, faster websites and less downtime, but there can be an additional learning curve.

 

Difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com

Easiest answer: http://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/

A few key points of difference:

WordPress.com is free, you don’t have to worry about backups, upgrades, optimizing your site. You get free themes as well as the option to purchase a number of premium themes. You can purchase upgrades to host your own videos (and WordPress.com will cover your bandwidth!), modify your CSS, and other features. If you upgrade, you also get free support from WordPress.com. You cannot run ads or modify the php template files, or use plugins.

WordPress.org allows you to download WordPress for free. However, you have to acquire and pay for monthly hosting as well as a domain. By self-hosting, you can modify all of your code, including template files. You can install plugins. You can run ads. You have to manage your own backups, security and upgrades. You typically do not get support from your hosting company.

 

Spammers

Akismet, which comes with all installations of WordPress, is an essential place to start. Beyond that, trying to stop spammers is somewhat of a moving target, as spammers are always finding workarounds for new ways to stop them.

Gravity Forms and a few other services have “honey pots” which capture spammer IP addresses. See Project Honey Pot for more information on how this works. Some WordPress plugins utilize the data for their own spam blockers.

 

What are pingbacks and trackbacks, anyway?

The idea is for your own benefit of knowing who is talking about the same things you are, and sharing discussion. There is also an SEO value in that Google seee two sites that are referencing each other adding legitimacy to the topic and to each site.

A pingback: references another blog on your site (see WordPress Codex on Pingbacks)

A trackback: writing a rebuttal or add-on article – involves more of a discussion (see WordPress Codex on Trackbacks)