Tag Archives: WordPress.com

WordPress is Best

11 Jan
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I don’t work for WordPress, and there are certainly other great blogging platforms, but I emphatically agree with the points noted recently at ShoutMeLoud, where Mr. Harsh Agrawal lists key reasons why WordPress is the best blogging platform. And Mr. Agrawal would certainly know — see his journey in the Related Articles at the end of this post on how he actually developed income and was presented with his first car through blogging.

I do this for personal development and creative fun, but the idea of making some spare cash or (cue Price is Right voice) A New Car (!!!) is pretty cool. Along with Agrawal’s observations on the WordPress platform, I’ll add:

  • Intuitiveness – through years of refinement, WordPress’s interface is simple for a beginner to understand, yet fluid enough not to slow down those more experienced.
  • Cross-functionality – whether you start with a free WordPress.com blog or go for a self-hosted site via WordPress.org, the interface remains similar enough so that your knowledge of how to use the system easily transfers.

But What Do I Know, Right?

I’ve designed custom WordPress themes; created self-hosted sites with WordPress as content management system; incorporated WordPress blogs into private non-WordPress sites; and of course, run this humble site you’re reading now through WordPress.com (but with my own rsmithing.com domain). I’ve developed code and managed several sites with other CMSs including Ektron, Joomla, and a slew of straight-up hard-coded sites run via good ol’ Dreamweaver or even PageMill. That said, even having used other publishing platforms like Blogger or LiveJournal (no disrespect to any of these), it’s still WordPress for the win in my book.

You have found the best. Welcome. We’re glad you made it. Enjoy.

What’s your favorite blogging platform and why? If WordPress, what made you give it a try? Have you used others and had better or worse experiences? Let us hear from you in the comments!

6 Mandatory Posting Steps for New Bloggers

4 Jan
That's my computer.

Blogging is your friend; you’re reading one now.

I’ve been blogging for a few months now, incorporating some techniques for engagement that I believe can also help in composing posts. I share these with you with the hope of improving and encouraging your own blog development.

As with any writing, simply getting started or maintaining consistency can be obstacles, but when you have a sense of the elements in mind already, the going can be easier because as you compose, you’re doing so with an idea of what could come next.

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Free to download for your own use (with credit).

Blogging is more fun and you’ll likely be more motivated when you’ve got some back-and-forth with like-minded bloggers. And with every post, there are a few basic things you can do to spark discourse. Good general tips on interaction and growing site traffic abound — and you should definitely do those other things — but the focus of this post is methodology.

Now, the tips…

This. Weekly.

1. Post Regularly

I make it a point to do at least one post per week, going into detail about a singular topic at length. Part of the appeal of blogging for me is that this can be accomplished with as few as four or five sentences, especially if the main focus is an embedded video — sometimes those speak for themselves. Otherwise, just a few paragraphs are plenty enough for the quick-scan reading format of online publishing.

Regardless of length, commit to something; pick a schedule and do your best to stick to it, whether monthly, biweekly, or maybe just a sentence here and there every few days. I’ve found weekly works best for me, because as the days move on beyond a post, I’m noticing topics that might make interesting material for next time.

Blog About Blogging – A Metablog?

2. And Post When You Feel Like It!

Sometimes I’ll get inspired to share a quick photo immediately with maybe a paragraph or some thoughts on something I’ve just discovered online. The WordPress app makes doing this ridiculously easy for anyone with a smartphone. Plus, coming to do a quick writeup at the PC with the plan of only composing three or four sentences and an image can be all you need for a solid expression.

You can always save the post to flesh out later, or complete it and schedule for publishing at a later date and time (again, WordPress makes this easy). Even when posting by phone, you can revisit from the PC to add links or other content. Sometimes I’ll file them away mentally, or sometimes I’ll save an ongoing draft to flesh out later. Much of this very post I actually dictated using Dragon Dictation in the morning, coming back to add images and a few edits here in the evening. The important thing is just to get started — take that first step and you’re more likely to complete the journey.

Links. Gotta’ Have ‘Em.

3. Link Your Words

I’ll always link to other sites offering further explanation on subjects I think readers may find interesting. I search for relevant news articles, other bloggers’ writings, and sometimes just link directly to an image search result for a broad visual reference.

Seeking out and including just the right links (even to your own previous posts) is like adding spice to the sauce,  part of the creative process of your composition.

4. Always include a picture. This isn’t Twitter.

Whatever you’re writing about, it’s always more interesting with an image. The Internet is a visual medium, and pictures are easy enough to include, especially in your blog (vs. the text-centric Twitter). Chances are you have a camera in your pocket right now attached to your music player which also makes phone calls. So it can be just as simple to create original visual material for your blog as doing an image search. If you do include images found elsewhere, always give credit and copyright details.

Click to view the full-size series

How dull would this post be without images? Y a w w w n…

5. Ask The Question. Prompt Discussion.

Since comments and discussion amplify the rewards of blogging, I like to start the discussion just as readers have finished cruising the page, always ending each post with open-ended questions. I learned this from the site Mashable, a tech blog that does this with nearly every article.

Use the Related Articles tool to give props to other bloggers.

6. Include Related Articles

Finally, I’ll always add related articles as trackbacks, or, links to other blogs and sites. I’ve gotten a few trackbacks from other sites myself, and it’s a very cool complement to know someone else sees your work as authoritative enough to reference in their own post. WordPress makes this easy with its automatically included Related Articles tool, and it’s always worthwhile to seek out bloggers like yourself and link to their sites. Just search for topics akin to your subjects, then share your thoughts on those posts in the comments with a polite invitation to do the same at your place followed by a link. You’re also more likely to see interaction from individuals than major news outlets, so try to link to homegrown bloggers if practical (thanks, Sherrilynne Starkie for that tip).

So there you have some best practice basics for blogging excitement. These may or may not work for you, and they certainly aren’t required. But as part of the creative process, doing these things will very likely foster participation and to give greater dimension to your content.

What do you think? What techniques like these do you use on your blog? What’s your experience with blogging been like? How has it evolved from your first post to how you create now? What’s your process of creating a post like? Let us hear from you in the comments!
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