LiveBlog Wordcamp KC : So you have a blog, now what?

Day two of Wordcamp Kansas City it starting off with a session from Syed Balkhi on planning and excuting your blog. Yesterday I was typing furiously during his session on monetizing your blog so I drank extra coke this morning in order to be on my game for this session. So here you go, Sayed’s guide to starting your blog (on WordPress of course!)

Start off with your goals, know what you want to do with your blog. Have a plan for what your content will be. Then imagine your audience… who is going to read that content you are writing. Think about the individuals who will come to your site and what they want to read. How long will you be doing this? What is your exit strategy? Know where your blog will go and how it will end. Visualize the far reaching plan for your blog.

Now that you have that figured out, it’s time to  start. Get a great looking theme and then remember the commandment of  blogging: content is king.  You can have a catchy title, just use a SEO plug in to have a secondary title for the search engines. Remember that imaginary audience? Write for them. Make it pretty and interactive. Add pictures and videos. Keep the length manageable.

Social media, use it , live it, breathe it. Word of mouth marketing is the most effective form of marketing!

Must Have PlugIns

  • Askimet: don’t forget to activate it!
  • Livefyre: The WP Beginner take on Livefyre
  • WordPress SEO by Yoast: Sayed’s favorite SEO plugin. Can be difficult for a beginner
  • Contact Form 7 or Gravity Forms: A must have! Your readers need s way to contact you!
  • w3 Total Cache: Caches the queries on your site so it allows your site to load faster
  • WP-DB Backup: free
  • Vaultpress or Backup Buddy: monthly fee based but recommended
  • Google Analytics: look at when people come to your site so you can update content then,
  • Yet Another Related Post

SEO Tips:

  • Write for the people
  • User friendly links: change your permalinks, custom straucture /%category%/%postname%/
  • Don’t be lazy: work at your SEO
  • link baiting: list post, contest/giveaways, free tools, trending topics, controversy/attacks, be the first (write breaking news)
  • beautiful design: design gets you backlinks and traffic

SEO Checklist

  • XML Sitemap
  • Semantic Web Markups <hl><h2>: most themes have it but double check that yours does
  • Image Tags (alt=””)
  • Rel=nofollow
  • limit external links
  • Increase Internal Linking (related posts)

Twitter:

  • custom background: shows your audience who you are
  • good profile photo: if it’s a brand account, use your logo. If it is you use an actual engaging photo
  • multiple profile: have a personal account that will always stay with you, then create separate account for your brand
  • interesting tweets
  • use hashatgs
  • retweet button
  • Twitter everywhere
  • Don’t whore yourself
  • Schedule your tweets

Facebook

  • create a fanpage
  • get 25 fans to get your custom URL before advertising your fan page : facebook.com/username
  • create a landing page
  • put a like button on your site
  • engage the heck out of it

Other Ways to Engage:

  • Digg/reddit: don’t abuse, don’t submit your own content
  • Blog comments
  • Guest blogs
  • network, network, network

Now what? Revisit your goals? Did you meet them? What are you new goals or is it time to quit (revist your exit strategy.)

Personal & Professional:

  • build two brands
  • leverage them to help each other grow
  • great exit strategy and excellent for new startups

Here are the slides from this excellent presentation!

LiveBlogging Wordcamp Kansas City : WordPress Marketing & Monetizing Your Blog

WordPress Evangelist from a Marketing Perspective presented by Scott Shorter of Concera Media

WordPress as a content platform gives you control and empowers you to create.

The Basics of Marketing through WordPress:

  • A w3c standards complaint theme – go to to check W3.org to see if your theme is compliant
  • Good on-page SEO practices – use meta-tags,
  • Google friendly in every way possible : use Google Webmasters
  • Social Intergration : use social media tools as a funnel to your site, then use Google analytics to track where you should be spending your time online
  • Conversion Goals like email signups
  • Tracking and reporting of results : really use Google analytics, set goals

 

Foundations for WordPress as Your Marketing Platform

  • Google anlyticator Plugin : puts it on your dashboard so it available right when you log in
  • XML sitemaps Plugin
  • All-in-one SEO plugin
  • Mailchimp (or similar plugin) :
  • premium theme framework : clean themes like Thesis do well in SEO
  • sharing plugin

Resources:

Calendar PlugIn by Kieran O’Shea : provided functionality with minimal amount of time

Twitter tools plugin

Postie : requires access to servers, DNS files

Role Manager: allows you to expand and customize WordPress subscriber profiles

Lifestream Plugin: Lifestream displays your social feeds and photos much like you would see it on many of the social networking sites.

Monetizing Your Blog Beyond the Banner Ads session presented by Syed Balkhi, founder of  WP Beginner

“Don’t run after success. Run after excellence, and success will follow you.”

First Thoughts

  • don’t quit your job
  • blogging is a full-time job, actually more than full time. And yes, this is totally true. I put in a full day of work then spend 3-4 hours on my blog.
  • when you are blogging, you are your own boss but you don’t have a life. The internet never closes down.


Methods:

  • Google Adsense: works on sites that are instructional
  • Affiliate Programs: every blogger can make money from affiliate links, always include an affiliate link when you talk about a product (use Amazon, Ebay affiliate links.) When writing about products that you gain comission off of, write a how to not a review. It will drive more traffic to your site.
  • Lead generation: think of ways you can generate leads through the content you already write. For example, if you write a hyper-local blog think about calling up a local business and suggest commission from referring customers to them.
  • Private Ad Sales: sell ads directly or use Buy Sell Ads Think beyond your site for paid promotion too: wear a tshirt at a conference, brand laptops, etc. Think outside of the box.
  • Premium Content:  Example: ProBlogger’s blog challenges turned into an ebook, then created a subscription forum. Chris Brogan turned his writing prompts into a fee based newsletter.
  • Continuity Programs:
  • Products: ebooks, themes
  • Services: teaching, consulting, blog audits, social media plans, editorial calendars
  • Paid reviews/posts: be sure to follow FCC regulations. My personal recommendation for this is to find a blogging group to help you
  • Donations:

Good Practice for Success:

  • Passion: pick something you are passionate about
  • Niche: if you’re going to have a niche blog, research it first
  • Domain: pick a easy, clear, short domain name
  • Hosting: pick a good host so your site will always be up
  • Theme: use a nice, easy to navigate one
  • Email list: build one and use it to market
  • Monetize
  • Analytics: use your stats to improve
  • Repeat!

 

Recommended WordPress Plugins:

  • OIOPublisher
  • BuySellAds
  • Simple URLSs
  • SEO SmartLinks
  • Gravity Forms
  • WP SEO by Yoast
  • Donate Plus
  • Aweber
  • W3 total cache
  • MaxCDN (use “WPBEGINNER” for 25% off
  • Comment Redirect
  • MailChimo
  • getShopped
  • Ozh’ Who Sees Ads
  • Amazon SImple Admin

Network, network, network: Make friends, make money!

Slides from this session here.

 

 

LiveBlogging WordCamp Kansas City : Why WordPress Is the Best Choice for Business

Afternoon session two :  Rick Nielson is presenting Why WordPress is the Best Choice for Business. Check Rick, aka The Web Trainer, out on his website, YouTube channel, and Twitter.

 

Rick says: (paraphrased) So why is WordPress the best choice for business websites? Because it kicks ass! Session over. Just kidding, but seriously WordPress revolutionized the web because it made website building and changes accessible to everyone. Why? Fast development, low cost, search engine magnet, plugins allow you to easily do almost anything easily, themes are widely available, and there is tons of support available.

WordPress can take you to the next level. Take whatever business you are doing and think outside the box.  Think of what you can sell and then use WordPress to do it. you need a home for your content. Social media should be what you use to drive people to your website.

Recommended resources: CSS-Tricks and Digging into WordPress

Liveblogging WordCamp KC : The Why and How of Group Blogs

Third session of the day is The WHy and How of Group Blogs from Brenda Bethmand and Kristen Abell

 

I was quite excited about this session since I have a hyper-local group blog The COMO Collective. Brenda and Kristin co-founded Student Affairs Women Talk Tech in 2010. They plan to talk about the benefits, the why, and the how to.

Benefits of Group Blogging:

  • It takes less time since you don’t have to write as much
  • Shows diverse viewpoints on one subject
  • Better for publicity

Difficulties:

  • differing viewpoints can cause disagreement about blog vision
  • hard to manage workflow, quality

For Setup:

Have a focus

Blog Schedule: (I personally LURVE the calendar plugin in WordPress) Think about how you are going to spread your topics and content.  They use Google Calendar tied to Google topics spreadsheet to schedule the posts. it’s done three months ahead of time and invite and reminders go out from the calendar. It’s giving me some food for thought.

Deadlines: Do you need to use contributor status so you can edit and double check that blogs will be posted? On The COMO Collective we currently allow people to submit themselves. It’s working so far but it does leave to uneven content.

Tech Talk

Site Mechanics: Who is responsible for the hosting, domain name, etc. Have someone in charge of that role.

Promote your blog: set up a Facebook Fan Page and Twitter account and set up plugins to automatically post to both sites. Networked blogs will do the hard work for you (but if you care about hits, think about another plugin since that hit goes to Networked blog unless the user x’s out the bar.) Use hashtags to find your audience on Twitter.

 

Content:

Cross-posting: Set up standards to ensure the quality of your content.

Commenting: have a moderation plan in place and assign responsibility for returning comments

 

Knowledge from Q&A:

Networked Blogs: Sign up to help promote your blog but know the good and bad sides. Automatic syndication can takes hits away from your count.

Liveblogging WordPress Camp KC : WordPress SEO

Second Session :  Rebecca Haden of Haden Interactive speaking on WordPress SEO

 

This seems like it is going to be a great hands on session. Rebecca is addressing hobby, small business blog sites and how to use SEO to improve your traffic. She is using Haden Interactive’s lab site My Fresh Plans as an example. We’re starting off with a break down of white hat vs black hat SEO tactics.  Use white hat (visible tactics) for long term SEO.

5 Steps to Good SEO:

1. Have a good website: the holy trinity: content, design, and code

Make an initial investment to get a good basic theme then spend some money on visuals. The produce content. Initial traffic for Fresh Plans came from just a few site placements. The site design and content kept people on the site and coming back to it once they found it. For search engines, make sure you are placing clear, simple search keywords that apply to your website. Do not worry about personal search, think about how the sites control them.  It’s not about the number, it’s about using the right ones. Use them naturally.  Don’t forget about image tags!

2. Do something well and then tell people about it. the holy trinity: linkbuilding, social media, and IRL networking

Linkbuilding = a vote of confidence for your site. Go to Get Listed and search for related topics. Do searches for your topic and find sites that are related and then check them in Website Grader. List yourself on Brown Book, Yelp, and HotFrog. Be sure to vary the phrases you use to linkback. Spend an hour a week on this. And never, ever pay someone for a link (black hat alert!) The exception is paying for an ungraded version of a site that is already sending you good traffic.

3. Engage Your Visitors: “Know who your visitors are, create compelling stuff, and reach out and respond”

Come up with a profile for your reader. Take it to the level of building a person: name them to fully visualize it! Once you have that person in mind think about their reasons for visiting your site and then meet their needs. And be sure to respond personally to them. You can have an automated response but make sure it is clear it is automated rather than just an impersonal reply.

4. Monitor and Adjust: holy trinity – watch your analytics, respond to what your see, test and tweak

Submit and index yourself on the search sites. Look at your traffic patterns and respond. Check out google insights for your search terms to see what people want to hear about. Use the popular keywords in your search. Test and tweak based on your analytics. Set up goals in Google Analytics to track yourself.

5. Keep it Up! :

Don’t expect immediate results, give yourself time to grow and for your strategies to work. If you change too often you won’t know what works for your site. Change takes time. You can make small responsive changes based on data but you have to give larger strategies time to work.

 

Knowledge from the Q&A:

Check for broken links: WordPress plug in “Broken Link Checker”

Ask people to find the right keywords. What would they search for if they were looking for {fill in the blank}.

User Testing

 

Liveblogging : Wordcamp KC #WCKC WP and Social Media

Hello! I am attending Wordcamp today and Kansas City and will be sharing some of the insight through live blogs.

First session : Lisa Qualls from Fresh ID and Social Media Club KC speaks on WordPress and Social Media : A Great Couple

Lisa opened with this graphic from Fred Cavazza. Great breakdown of social media for clients… how it all interacts with each other. Her three uses of social media: evaluate, learn, and connect. Love how she is taking that opening and showing how you can use social media to drive business. Think about what your customer is seeing, what you want them to see. Use categories on the back end to push the content you want people to see.

Stepping up the interacting for business, Lisa showed off a custom Twitter plug in they did for Red House Media as well as Fresh ID’s Twitter streams. Love the examples of how you can show off different streams of Twitter.  I thought I was the Twitter queen but Lisa is totally making me look at on websites in a completely different way. She’s using Sporting KC as an example right now. My husband would love that.  Keep in mind though, that unlike Facebook, you can’t filter out certain words and terms. Be confident that the accounts and streams you are showing will only display content you want your viewers to see.

 

For advanced clients, Lisa is walking us through the LiveStrong park site and talking about what they have done beyond that. Every seat in the park has a QR code. The possibilities that could be done with that is mind boggling. Be sure to check out the beta site Sporting Membership. Click around the FreshID site for more innovative ideas for Worpress use for businesses.

 

Closing out with the most important point: think about your usability and customer experience first.  Plan, map, think before you input.

 

Random WordPress resources from the Q&A session:

YouTube Tutorials from Fresh ID

Word Press Beginner Help Site