Use WordPress to Design a Website

WordPress Logo

WordPress logo

I’ve been developing content and building websites for a long, long time now. In the beginning, we did almost always from scratch. Occasionally, I used a template, but often it was just sitting at the keyboard grinding out a design and some code.

The past three or four sites, however, have all been developed on WordPress. Instead of worrying about HTML, CSS, Javascript, or divs, I get to focus on the content.

Initially, I only used WordPress as a blogging platform with the main body as the new content area. It was the standard blog structure where the newest post appeared on top, pushing the older posts down.

But now I’ve started to discover new ways to control WordPress to make it look like a regular website. So instead of posting a standard blog post, I am building a nice homepage with functional interior pages. In most cases, it still looks like a blog platform, which is fine by me. In most of these newer sites, I’m looking for a homegrown feel that highlights the content, not the snazzy design. Continue reading

Content Strategy Tip – Write Awful Content

Here’s a novel content strategy for you. Make some awful content. And when you’re done with that, make some more bad content.

How is that “content strategy,” you ask? Good question.

This year I published a book called “Creating Comics from Start to Finish.” It’s a book for people who aspire to create comic books. I included a section for writers where I offered the concept of the “Rule of 10.”

I won’t go into the whole thing (buy the book), but the Rule of 10 is all about practice. Specifically, if you are a writer, you need to create 10 stories before you even dare to pitch your stuff to an editor. By writing these 10 stories, you will write through your clichés and stiff storytelling. You will write through your amateurish experimentation, which nobody should have to pay for. Continue reading

How to Break WordPress and Destroy Your Blog

WordPress Logo Cracked

I broke WordPress.

Everything was working fine. Let’s get that out there just to start. My blog was not broken, nor did it need any specific adjustments.

But still I said to myself, “today…we optimize!” And that was the beginning of the end…and how I broke WordPress.

I’ve been developing websites for a long time. I got into this business in 1995 and the web was a very different place. There were fewer tools for generating webpages and they were buggy and frustrating to use. Making content online required generating HTML code by hand, which meant you really had to learn it.

I don’t mind monkeying around in the code. Experimenting is good, but you can go too far.

And now, let me give you a tutorial on how you can do exactly what I did to mess up my blog.

You too can break your WordPress installation, cause yourself hours of aggravation, lose productivity, and learn a very, very important lesson.

Ready for some fun? Break out the Rolaids ’cause we’re going to break WordPress! Continue reading

Blog Traffic Tip #2: Know Your Stats

Blog-Traffic-TipsToday’s tip is about knowing your site statistics. But don’t panic, you don’t need to be good with numbers to understand this blog post.

Many people blog for professional reasons. Maybe they want to be considered a thought leader in their field. This kind of self-marketing, personal branding effort is sometimes referred to as Brand You.

If you’re blogging to build a base for Brand You, then you’re going to want to drive enough traffic to make it worth your time and energy. And how can you tell this? Site stats, of course.

Most blog platforms (I use WordPress) come with some sort of free analytics package that allows you to get basic information on visitors to your blog. Click a few buttons, and software will immediately start to track what people are doing on your blog. Neat and easy.

Here are a few things you should be looking for:

  • How are people getting to your blog? Is it search engine traffic? Other blogs?
  • If you are posting your blog and then tweeting it on Twitter, are people clicking that link?
  • What words are people typing into Google and Yahoo to get to your blog?
  • What day of the week are they visiting your blog? Time of day?

All of this is accessible in your stats. And — trust me here — it’s not that hard to understand.

If you really start to get into it, you can use a free software package for even more information. I recommend Google’s free Google Analytics software. It’s a bit more challenging to install, but the amount of information you can get is amazing.

Spend a little time looking at your stats. You’d be amazed at what you can learn about your readership and the basic usability of your website and/or blog. Keyword analysis may help you figure out better ways to search engine optimize your site.

Serious websites need professional analysts to understand site statistics. At work, we study the site stats to better understand what content, tools, and resources people use on our websites. This helps us build out future content and plan other digital media initiatives.

You may never want to get to that level of analysis, of course. But just having a basic grasp of your site stats will help you create a better blog experience for your readers.

Now get started. Your stats are waiting for you.

See also: Blog Traffic Tip #1 Be Controversial

Shorteners Getting Bigger

bitly-logoWhen smart companies all start doing the same thing, it’s probably a good idea to figure out what they know. If you haven’t quite noticed yet, there’s some sort of micro trend percolating in the biz of making web URLs shorter.

In the past few weeks, several important websites have created their own URL shorteners. You’ve seen shortened URLs, which make long web addresses much more manageable for sharing on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Among the most popular services are Bit.ly and Tr.im.

For the most part, URL shorteners are just an interesting utility, but it’s clearly something more powerful than most people realize. That’s a bit like search engines. In the beginning, search engines were important, but nobody could have predicted the massive Google empire. (Except Google, of course.)

Now, URL shorteners are shaping up to be a very interesting micro trend. Consider the fact that several important sites have announced their own URL shorteners in the last few weeks, including:

Will this be a big trend? Not sure. From a publisher’s perspective, there are certainly some advantages to having people use your shorteners, particularly since it gives them interesting data about where people are linking.

Several experts are raising security issues around URL shorteners, so this micro trend may have serious industry repercussions. Yep, shorteners are definitely getting bigger.

Is the world ready for a shorter URL for me? Like Bud.dy or Scal.ra?

Follow Me on Your Kindle

Love Words + Pictures = Web, but don’t want to sit in front of your computer monitor anymore? Well, now you can get your W+P=W beamed magically to your Kindle!

Yes, that’s right ebook fans. You can now carry me in your backpack, your purse or even curl up with me in bed. Read about ereading on your favorite ereader!

But that’s not all, you’ll get geeky blog posts about emarketing, interactive content, and maybe even comic books. So what are you waiting for?

Go check out the Words+Pictures=Web Marketing Tech Kindle Edition and impress your friends with your high tech brainy marketing knowledge.

My Blog on Kindle

Don’t Sue Me, I’m Just a Blogger

Some day, I may write a scathing, irony-laced blog posting that draws the ire and fury of some individual or business. It’s not likely, mind you, but it could happen.

Maybe I need MediaGuard blog insurance, which is now being offered by Chubb Specialty Insurance. Nope, I’m not making this up. This, my dear readers, is a sign of modern times.

Y’see, community generated content doesn’t have a big corporate sponsor backing it up. So if a politician is angry at how an article was written, there are ways to address those concerns. The political party can threaten to pull their advertising from a newspaper…but that’s not really going to scare a blogger. Or they can threaten to sue the media organization.

Right now, here in North Jersey, we’re watching a blog-saga unfold in real time, as a prominent political figure is suing a citizen for things that she’s written in her blog. Check out: Free speech, thin skin and cyberspace and 80 take speech fight to streets from our daily newspaper, the Record.

In the case of a newspaper or media outlet, they may have lawyers on staff. If not, there are plenty of corporate lawyers in the yellow pages. Media moguls have a budget and can fight a lawsuit, if they so choose.

But what if you blogged something that someone didn’t like? Do you have the funds to defend yourself against a lawsuit?

Which, of course, brings us to our MediaGuard insurance.

Nowadays, bloggers are no longer just technogeeks who have the ability to understand web development. Nope, blogging takes little technical ability to get started. As a result, there are lots of really influential and important blogs out there that generate lots of traffic and attention. Blogs like the Huffington Post and Perez Hilton get more traffic than some newspapers have readers.

A mention on one of those sites…good or bad…can have a effect on someone’s career. And, of course, that alone could make someone want to sue them. Or you.

Blogger insurance. It sounds funny today, but will you need it tomorrow?

Twitter for Marketers – A Brief Intro

Nielsen reports rapid Twitter growth in March 209

As Twitter has grown in popularity,  questions about how, why, and when to use it have skyrocketed. In advertising/marketing agencies, there is a responsibility (and pressure) to use new technology for branding.

According to Nielsen, Twitter is growing really, really, really, really fast. So, if you’re a marketer, you’re probably trying to figure out how to grab the tail of this comet.

For starters, you need to have something to say. I’m not kidding here. If you have nothing to say on a regular basis, don’t try to jump into the conversation.

Twitter is all about content. Messages, words, and insights. It’s fast, short, and fresh. If you or your brand doesn’t have something to share daily, you may want to sit out the Twitter craze. (Then again, most brands and categories have SOME industry news, so talk to your staff writer about info opportunities.)

Twitter content is legendarily short. Each message can run as long as 140 characters. Yes, you read that right, Tweets (a cute name for a Twitter post) are only 140 characters or less, including spaces, URLs, and line breaks.

(That paragraph actually ran 187 characters. Too much for a Tweet!)

There are plenty of tips and tricks for working within the constraints, community, and technology supporting Twitter. It’s a fun challenge for marketers, especially as the new opinion leaders begin to carve out their turf in this brave new technical world.

Future blogs will touch on how to leverage Twitter and some good examples of people who self promote using this “micro blogging” technology.

In the meantime, check out how I use my Twitter account to share ideas about content, marketing and technology at Marketing Buddy.