Blogs/Blogging

8 Great Blogs All About WordPress

Posted on January 7, 2010. Filed under: Blogs/Blogging | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Ask a blogger what’s his/her favorite blog platform and the answer is probably whatever one he/she happens to use.

I use WordPress — guess what my favorite is?

Seeing as there are currently in excess of 18 million WordPress bloggers, I’m in good company.

This bountiful user base makes for a nice target audience, so it comes as no surprise that there are plenty of websites devoted to all things WordPress. Some focus on a particular aspect, such as coding, while others are more broad-based.

Here are my favorites — and seeing as I’m a non-geek, most are geared to non-techies:

Just Another WordPress Weblog

Might as well start at the source, right? Just  Another... is the place for news from WordPress.com and the WordPress Community. You get info straight from the people responsible for this powerful platform, as well as from folks who make apps, and other interested parties.

Lorelle on WordPress

Lorelle VanFossen calls herself a “blog evangelist” — here she spreads the good word on WordPress.  She’s got the inside skinny, and in fact helped write and develop WordPress.org Codex. Aside from being a primo source for WordPress tips and techniques Lorelle offers general blogging advice, and she has her ear to the ground — if there’s a WP alert, Lorelle is on the case.

ThemeLab

Looking for a free theme? Be sure to take a gander at this site, which has in excess of 100 selections to choose from. Should you prefer a one-of-a kind deal, the site offers a fee-based custom theme service. There’s also easy to digest step-by-step how-to articles.

We Love WP

We Love WP’s tagline is: “Showcasing WordPress powered sites.” That says it all. The site presents homepages with links to blogs built on the WordPress platform. A super source for design ideas and inspiration.

wpbeginner

If you’re new to the game wpbeginner is a goldmine of information on everything you need to know to get up and running with WordPress. Once you’ve figure that out, dig into articles about plugins and peruse a stash of educational posts.

WPCandy

WPCandy contains a deep cache of information on the latest themes and plugins as well as plenty of useful tips and tutorials. The gents behind it have also launched two related sites: WPCoder for developers, and WPInspiration (which like We Love WP, showcases blogs from around the internet).

WPShout

A design development blog by Alex Denning, who has created a number of WordPress themes. The content runs from beginner to advanced levels while the writing style is friendly and down-to-earth.

WordPress.TV

A bevy of of how-to advice, presentations, interviews, tutorials and support videos from WordPress.org.

– Deni Kasrel

Do you have a favorite blog devoted to WordPress? What’s missing? Comments welcome.

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The Boob Trial

Posted on December 2, 2009. Filed under: Blogs/Blogging | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Guest post by: Steve Hartkopf | Read his blog

If you blog, then you know that generating traffic takes constant promotion, especially in the beginning.  My blog readership is up nicely this year and it isn’t an accident — I work hard.

I believe bloggers earn every one of their readers. That said, I’m always searching for new ways to attract more readers. This post is about how that very common goal led me down an unexpected path.

The path between my pragmatic readership goal and what I’m now calling, The Boob Trial, requires some background.

Sex sells

It’s no surprise, especially to those of you who have teenage boys, that words associated with sex and the female anatomy are highly (Highly!) searched on the Internet. I mixed those two facts and, whammo, The Boob Trial was born.

Joanna Krupa is a famous bikini model and recent contestant on Dancing With The Stars, which is where I was introduced to her. When she was (unjustly) eliminated last week, she handled it with maturity and poise. Her fans, however, did not. They sent emails and posted comments about Joanna’s treatment, they acted like boobs. I took the liberty of naming them, Joanna Krupa’s boobs. My November, 23 blog, “Bloggers, Don’t Act Like Joanna Krupa’s Boobs,” was written to coach my fellow bloggers using Joanna as an example.

I just wanted them to redirect their energies and stop whining about how hard it is to find an audience. If you’re a great writer it may be “unfair” that you can’t generate an audience. Who knows? But whining is not the cure or the solution to your problem. The solution, as it is in most of life, is hard work. OK, so I had a little fun with boobs. Hey, you know what I mean.

The boob test

Good tests have limited variables so I abandoned my usual promotional activities and only posted a few Tweets.  I do a lot more promoting for most of my blog entries, but this was my version of a Mammogram, a boob test. The results were probably predictable but hilarious, nonetheless.

To determine the impact of boobs I needed some numbers, so I calculated my average pageviews, bounce rates and visitor duration for the prior three months and they became my baseline, my average day. Here are the results:

  • “Boobs” increased my pageviews 331%. 331%!
  • My bounce rate, which refers to the number of people who view one page and leave, went up 340%. That’s bad because it means virtually none of my new visitors stuck around to peruse my site. One and done, baby.
  • The average length of time spent on my site is about 4:00 minutes but I’ve had visitors hang around for a half an hour. Not Monday. The average visit was under 30 seconds. Apparently my new visitors aren’t big readers. No pics, no sticks.

More than meets the eye?

I’m always very grateful when anyone takes the time to read my blog, leave a comment or send an email. So I want all my loyal readers to know that I don’t ever plan on using such tactics again.

However, if it weren’t for my little experiment, would Deni have asked me to write a guest blog? So maybe suspending my better judgment wasn’t a bad idea? Maybe there’s more here than meets the eye? I wonder what Heidi Klum is up to?

Steve Hartkopf, is the founder and managing partner of Aligned Marketing, LLC a marketing consulting and technology solutions provider. Steve’s insights and clear communication cut through the noise to increase sales, improve profitability and lower costs.

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An Easy Trick For Increasing How Often You Post To Your Blog

Posted on November 3, 2009. Filed under: Blogs/Blogging | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

calendar (image by Big Stock Photo)Did you know this November is Better Blog Month?

Yes, it was decreed so by Cathy Larkin, a public relations/social media consultant, who has designed a month-long program for improving the content of your blog.

A well thought-out program

Larkin says one of the reasons she devised this scheme is because she wants to improve her own blog. She reckoned, why not have others join in the process? Which is, by the way, nicely thought-out.

Larkin posted invites to her program via LinkedIn and Twitter. I saw her tweet and enlisted in this blog boot-camp.

Each week of Better Blog Month has a different theme, with corresponding exercises to complete. The process begins with self-examination: You ask yourself why you’re blogging in the first place and then take a hard look as to whether your blog does indeed meet all of those goals. If not, then make a note of where the holes are and think about how you can plug them.

Write shorter, post more

An end-goal of the project is for participants to post more frequently.

Posting more frequently can help your search engine optimization (SEO), because search engines seek out new content, and a fresh flow of stories means visitors come to your site more often, which also affects your search rank.

One easy way of posting more often, so Larkin tells me, and especially if you are pressed for time, is to write shorter posts.

One trick to writing shorter posts is to dash off an intro and link to an article that you like and think will be of interest to your readers.

Apparently it’s cool to link to articles that you’ve written for other web sites.

Let’s give it a whirl: I wrote a more detailed post with notes and early impressions of Better Blog Month for The Bloggers Bulletin.

It’s got more tips on how to improve blog content. Here’s the link to the story titled One Month To A Better Blog.

– Deni Kasrel

What are some of your tricks for increasing the frequency of posting to a blog? Care to share? Comments welcome.

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Four Great Blogs About Blogging

Posted on October 15, 2009. Filed under: Blogs/Blogging | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Have you noticed how many blogs are about blogging?

Clearly, the blogging community embraces the rule of thumb to write about what you know.

The upshot is; if you’re a blogger, or want to become one, there’s a plethora of free resources available on the web. Here are four sites that I find useful:

Copyblogger

Copyblogger lives and breathes the content is king mantra.

copyblogger logoIt’s serious about teaching us how to write great copy. As would be expected of such a site, it’s an entertaining read. Illustrations are frequently funny and you might want to visit it just for the grabby headlines (one example: How to Be Interesting).

Copyblogger posts are sharp and to the point — no fancy prose or hyper-pontificating allowed. While the big focus is on the art of writing, the site believes there’s little point to putting a lot of effort in this regard if no one reads your blog. To help ensure this doesn’t happen to you it includes marketing tips, too.

Considered tops in the biz, Copyblogger routinely winds up on lists for “best of’ and “most influential” blogs along with…

ProBlogger

ProBlogger logoThe big kahuna in the blogging-for-dollars space, it’s the brainchild of Darren Rowse, who figured out early-on how to make money from blogging and subsequently surmised he could make even more by creating a blog to help others do the same.

The site has several thousands of articles as well as a weekly video post. ProBlogger is chock full of practical tips and tutorials on writing, publicizing, search engine optimizing, analyzing and otherwise getting the most bang from your blogging. Leading by example, it’s got a heavy ad/sales component.

Daily Blog Tips

This one offers a daily dose of information on blog-related topics (though it does rest on Sundays). The content is wide-ranging and includes design, marketing, promotion, software, tools, strategy and plenty more — in terms of comprehensive coverage, you can’t beat it.

Daily Blog Tips logoEvery Friday Daily Blog Tips has a Q&A in response to queries from readers. Another recurring feature is the Bloggers Face-Off where two bloggers respond to a series of questions and readers can vote on the winner. Here you can readily see that there are many approaches for creating a successful blog.

Consistently offering good info, DBT is one of my go-to sources when I’m looking for articles to tweet.

The Bloggers Bulletin

A relatively new kid on the block, The Blogger’s Bulletin was launched to support members of a group on LinkedIn called The Blog Zone. The pool of contributors draws from this group though anyone can read The Bloggers Bulletin.

The Blogger's Bulletin logo (with border)Much like Daily Blog Tips, the site takes a big picture view of what all’s involved in blogging. It has a long list of contributors — one of its purposes is to help writers, including those just starting out, get placement outside of their own blog and to provide a link back to the writer’s blog as a way to help increase traffic and boost search engine optimization. This community-minded approach results in a nice diversity of writing styles, views and opinions.

– Deni Kasrel

What’s YOUR  take on these blogs about blogging? Do you know of other sites that should be added to the great blogs about blogging list? Please feel free to make suggestions.  Comments welcome.

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How To Create A Winning Corporate Social Media Policy

Posted on August 26, 2009. Filed under: Best practices, Blogs/Blogging, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Nearly every day there’s another research report raving about how corporations are getting into social media. One study — Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risk — dares to be different.referee signaling a touchdown- image by bigstockphoto

Yes, it includes those juicy numbers that gets everyone all exercised about the speed at which social media acceptance is accelerating. But then it pokes under the covers to reveal how deep-down, many executives think social media is risky business.

The biggest fear factors concern how use of social media while on the clock diminishes productivity as well as increases an IT infrastructure’s odds of being hit with computer viruses, and that corporate reputation can be damaged based on what employees post to their personal online accounts.

The report, prepared by Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law, notes that the majority of these leery leaders are apt to visit social media sites to suss out what’s being said about their business — by outsiders and staffers alike — or to check out the competition.

Source: Russell Herder/Ethos Law, Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risk, August 2009

Source: Russell Herder/Ethos Law, Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risk, August 2009

Meanwhile, only 13 percent have included social media as part of the organization’s crises communications plans.

All defense and no offense

It’s wise to be concerned about chatter a company is instigating in cyberspace. Monitoring should be ongoing, findings analyzed and replies registered when warranted.

However, to trot out a familiar sports analogy, engaging with social media strictly to see what others are doing is akin to having a defense and no offense. You’re not being proactive and are at risk of enabling the competition to succeed at your expense.

Plus, if a crisis does occur, isn’t it better to know from experience how the game is played rather than sitting on the sidelines and then trying to figure it out under pressure, on the fly?

A better game plan

You can’t play the social media game from a distance. It’s imperative to get involved to advance your goals.

Here’s where the report really shines by spelling out best practices of good corporate social media policy. These include:

Maintain a consistent attitude

Social media guidelines should reflect the general corporate culture. For example, if your credo is all about being flexible and open-minded, then continue that mindset with social media.

Set rules and be sure everyone knows what they are

Because it’s an informal means of communication social media can be an easy if accidental conduit for exposing confidential information. Ensure it’s understood that any existing regulations regarding the disclosure of proprietary information also pertain to social media.

Be clear about when players can wear uniforms

Employees have professional and personal identities. A business may not go so far as to try and regulate the personal part, but it can establish what’s in or out of bounds. If employees makes personal posts that blast a political party should they be allowed to identify their business title and the company they work for? Is it okay for employees to list their work email address when making personal comments on controversial blogs? Good policy addresses potentially contentious issues and defines what’s prohibited.

Focus on performance

Engagement with social media can impact productivity. But a total prohibition of its use during work hours is not only impossible to enforce but also onerous. It’s okay to set restrictions, such as saying employees can only post to personal sites during a lunch break. Whatever the procedure, the focus should be on job performance rather taking a hard line about “company time.”

Be transparent

Companies that spy on employee usage of social media should let it be known that they are doing so. Disciplinary actions that can result as a breach of protocol should be clearly spelled out.

Run a training camp

Guidelines are all well and good, but risks are mitigated and compliance better achieved by clearly stating the rules of the game. Create a comprehensive training plan to let everyone know the playbook.

Get in the game

The best way to succeed with social media is to be a player. Establish a scheme to meet your objectives. Then grab the ball and run with it.

– Deni Kasrel

What type of social media game plan do YOU think a company should have? Comments welcome.

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Keep Your Blog A No Flog Zone

Posted on August 12, 2009. Filed under: Blogs/Blogging | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Many companies are now integrating blogs into their marketing communications mix. But just calling something a blog doesn’t mean it is one.

Or at least not necessarily one that follows best practices for business blogging.

A bleary blog
Exhibit A: The blog for Savings.com, an online discount and coupon service that recently revamped its web site to make it more community oriented.

savings.com coupon blog-screenshotPosts (on this date) include a story about airline bereavement fares; photos from the Savings.com relaunch party; the top 10 best deals for the week of August 10-16 (this list includes discount offers from Frederick’s of Hollywood and Crabtree & Evelyn); a story about how the recession is affecting baseball teams; an article titled “What to Look for in a New Laptop”; and a “Best Store You Never Heard Of” feature.

Here comes the pitch
Many of the posts are highly sales oriented. The one about buying a laptop is a “shopping advice” informational article where highlighted brands are all companies that market through Savings.com. Likewise, “The Best Store You Never Heard Of” piece is a direct pitch for a vendor that lists offers through Savings.com.

A lot of the links within the different posts lead to deals included elsewhere on the site. And yes, it is called the Savings.com Coupons Blog, but it would be more accurate to just say, “Here’s where we promote the heck out of whoever pays us to advertise their discounts.”

And then there’s just a basic standard that the content should add value to the reader, which, sorry to say, the erratically written post on baseball teams having difficulties selling tickets in our troubled economy, fails to meet.

Kindly do not flog the reader
Ladies and gentlemen, this blog comes dangerously close to being a flog. Meaning it’s a fake blog. The “f” refers to the term flack, which is slang for a public relations/PR person. So it’s a flack blog, get it?

The reason it’s not a full on flog is that flogs are deceptive and hide the fact that they’re just a marketing tool in disguise. With the Savings.com blog it’s pretty clear what the deal is (pun intended). Even so, despite a scattering of stories under the category heading “odds and ends” that may not specifically pertain to site merchants, it’s heavily advertorial—that is, ads dressed up as articles.

A better way to go
A corporate blog can include a promotional aspect. But best practice is that it’s not so heavy handed in this regard. Also, if there is any kind of quid pro quo involved between the company that benefits from being mentioned and the one that does the mentioning, this should be disclosed.

In any case, a good business blog offers useful content that helps the reader better understand a product, service or brand. It might also present the company’s (or a particular employee’s) point of view on issues relating to its industry.

The best blogs are geared to creating a meaningful exchange between the writer/company and the reader, to include obtaining opinion and feedback. Better still, there’s a sense of personality to the posts. The main thing is, it’s not firmly slanted toward making a sale. You can use other areas of a web site for that purpose.

OK, repeat after me: A blog is not an advertisement.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think of blogs that flog? Your comments welcome.

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