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Topic: wordpress

WordPress.TV

WordPress is the software that this blog runs on.  It is free, although you need a web host to run it.

While I tell people all the time that they can do 90% of what they want in wordpress themselves, many people still have trouble.

The good news is WordPress just launched WordPress.TV which has tutorials.

This kind of public video is increasingly important for you to make complex sales.  For example, look at WordPress Wishlist.  I would have not bought the software had they not had the video tutorials on the right side  I bought it because I was confident it would solve my problem after watching every video.

I like the software so much, I launched a whole new website dedicated to helping people build membership sites with the same low-cost membership website software tools I use.

Free WordPress Theme

WordPress is an Open Source Blog Package.  I write about it occasionally, but really should more often.  I spend a lot of time playing with WordPress, customizing it, setting it up, etc.

One challenge is always to find good Free WordPress Themes.

WordPress Themes are a package of templates, images and style sheets that you upload to a specific folder and unzip.  Then you can activate it and customize it via the admin interface of WordPress.

So via Twitter I found this Free WordPress Theme called Apollo today – please note that I have not installed it yet, but is looks very clean and nice.  I am looking forward to giving it a try.  Go look at all the great layouts and they even provide a bunch of generic logos.

I have paid for good themes in the past.  I do not mind doing that, but with more and more quality free themes coming out, the days of paying for a theme seem numbered.

Blog Blazers – Stephane Grenier

Blog Blazers is a new book by Stephane Grenier, although he wrote few of the actual words.

Instead, he went out and interviewed 40 top bloggers and assembled their interviews into a book.

If you are looking for the one secret that will take your blog to the next level, it might be in there, but it will not be crystal clear.

I find this book fascinating because of the diversity of the answers.  One blogger will say adwords does not work, another says he makes $20,000 per month from Google Adwords.  Some say the headline of a blog is important, while others stress the content.

Sure, there are some things they all seem to agree on – good writing is fairly obvious.  But it is in the areas that these bloggers differ that I find more interesting.  And it shows how diverse the topic is.

If you are thinking about blogging, you are blogging but no one is reading it or if you want to rethink your blogging strategy, you should pick this book up.  No, it does not give you a clear blue print, but it is a feast of information to think about and find the pieces that apply to you.

Here is a list of the successful bloggers interviewed in Blog Blazers

  1. Aaron Wall – SEO Book
  2. Abdylas Tynyshov – AdesBlog.com
  3. Al Carlton – Coolest-Gadgets.com
  4. Alex Papadimoulis – The Daily WTF
  5. Andy Brice – Successful Software
  6. Anita Campbell – Small Business Trends
  7. Asha Dornfesh – Parent Hacks
  8. Ben Casnocha – My Startup Life
  9. Benjamin Yoskovitz – Instigator Blog
  10. Bob Walsh – 47 Hats
  11. Dan Lyons – The Secret Diaries of Steve Jobs
  12. Dane Carlson – Business Opportunities Weblog
  13. David Armano – Logic + Emotion
  14. David Seah – David Seah
  15. Derek Semmler – Derek Semmler
  16. Dharmesh Shaw – On Startups: A Community for Entrepreneurs
  17. Eric Sink – Erik.Weblog()
  18. Ian Landsman – UserScape
  19. James & Alex – Google SightSeeing
  20. J.D. Roth – Get Rich Slowly
  21. Jeff Atwood – Coding Horror
  22. Jeff Clavier – Jeff Clavier’s Software Only
  23. Jennette Fulda – Half of Me
  24. Jennifer Perry – 101 Reasons I Hate Being Fat
  25. Jessamyn West – Librarian.net
  26. Joel Cheesman – Cheezhead
  27. Jonathan Snook – Snook.ca
  28. Manolo Blahnik – Manolo’s Shoe Blog
  29. Neil Patel – Quick Sprout
  30. Pamela Slim – Escape from Cubicle Nation
  31. Patrick McKenzie – MicroISV on a Showstring
  32. Penelope Trunk – Brazen Careerist
  33. Ramit Sethi – I Will Teach You To Be Rich
  34. Rob Walling – Software By Rob
  35. Rohin Bhargava – Influential marketing Blog
  36. Seth Godin – Seth Godin
  37. Stephane Grenier – Follow Steph
  38. Steve Rubel – Micro Persuasion
  39. Trent Hamm – The Simple Dollar
  40. Yaro Starak – Entrepreneur’s Journey

You may want to bookmark this page and come back after you by the book, Blog Blazers, to check out each blog quickly after reading the interviews.  Combining the interview and the blog visit is very insightful.

Blog as CMS

CMS stands for Content Management System.  It is what us tech oriented people say when we are talking about software that allows non-tech people to manage their website effectively.

WordPress is the industry standard software for running a blog.  It is also a CMS.

Blogs are not different from websites.  They are just a certain publishing philosophy.  Many CMS’s have built blogs into their cms.  And now, I would argue that WordPress has become a top cms itself.

I released a new site last week, Marketing Mastery Advisory Board.  It uses wordpress and looks less like a blog than many other sites.  There are a lot of great themes out there that you only have to customize.

Even when I talk now, I tell peoople not to call them blogs.  It has a certain connotation that it is less serious (to the unblogeducated).

If you are setting up a website for anything, you have to look at what you want to accomplish.  WordPress is not the easiest, but it is not bad to use for non-tech.  And it gets great search engine results if configured properly and you know how to write with search engines in mind.

The reasons I would not use WordPress is to create an online community or as an ecommerce site where I was going to have a lot of products.  Otherwise, it is an excellent, cheap cms for you that gets great results.

Internet Marketing

10 Internet marketing Secrets the experts don’t want you to know

  1. Free Blogs and Websites can improve your internet marketing results a lot.
  2. WordPress is a great Internet marketing tool that is free, other than hosting.
  3. WordPress has great free Internet marketing and SEO plugins.
  4. The Internet Marketing Formula is simple and not an all or nothing proposition.
  5. Good, regular writing is important to internet marketing success.
  6. It is easier to get results with affiliates that are active instead of developing new people.
  7. Employee Evangelism can super-charge your internet marketing.
  8. Capturing relationships is critical – Use email marketing.
  9. Use open source – It is unlikely you need big custom development projects.
  10. Internet Marketing is most successful when you build an audience of people that respect you and want to hear from you.  That is hard to do with an old-style business website.

Bonus: Sure twitter seems silly, but it is generating great internet marketing results at times, and takes very little effort.  You should use it once in a while.

Buzz Marketing Help

Secrets...I attended a local blog community meeting today and one thing that attending does is make me feel really good about the buzz marketing help I provide.

It gives me a chance to reflect on the things I have learned over the last month.  Things that may not be fantastic to me but really help others.

I was able to tell them about Amazon s3 and how to use the firefox extension to take advantage of it.  I was able to share some WordPress SEO secrets.  I talked about how I have adjusted my titles and writing style to get better visibility.

While I do not think of it as Buzz marketing Help, that is exactly what it is.  And I learn as much as I give.  My new Employee Evangelism Program is being launched soon and it targets bigger clients than I usually work with.   The other members that were there let me know which press release site to use and how to target the public companies better.

We talked for nearly 3 hours and would have kept going had several people not had meetings.  If you are not a part of a group like this, you need to be.  And if there are none in your area, start one.

Reflecting on the things I learned this month and giving general buzz marketing help to other bloggers is fun and makes me feel like the research I do really is appreciated.

Free Blog Software

Amsterdam servercluster in its own rack I frequently get asked about the many free blog software options that are out there.

First, let me explain something.  Free blog software is not the same as free blog hosting.  I have never used blog software that I have had to pay for.  WordPress is free to download and install on your server.

Where people get confused is whether to pay to host their blog someplace or to use a free blog platform like wordpress.com or blogger.com.

Both places will host your blog for free.  The issue is ownership, customization and security.  When you set up a blog, you want to be able to truely build an audience that keeps coming back for your valuable information.

The issue with the free blog hosting options is that they can take down your blog any time they want.  If they believe you are spamming or abusing their system, they can simply remove your blog.  Also, while wordpress.com is free, it is not free if you want to customize things more.

To avoid the risk of losing all your hard work, you should host your blog on a web host.  This gives you full control and you cannot be shut down as long as you are not breaking any laws.

Does that mean you should not set up free blogs too?  Absolutely not.  Go ahead and set up blogs on those free sites.  Write summaries of your posts on your main blog and use those free blog sites to send traffic and links your way.

Remember, free blog software is not the issue.  Owning the space and developing an audience is how your blog will succeed.

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Internet Marketing Formula

Workshop of Hildegard Dodel, luthier in Cremon... I was once at a great workshop where they discussed the business formula.  It basically broke down your business into some simple elements and said – If you increase your prices by 10% + Increase your number of customers by 10% + Decrease your costs by 10% you are going to have a very sizable jump in your income.

This same kind of formula works with Internet marketing.

If you increase your traffic by 10% + increase your pricing by 10% + increase your conversion by 10% + create products with low or no delivery cost – you are going to be very successful.

This internet marketing formula breaks down for people for a variety of reasons.

  • Zero Sales – 110% of zero is still zero.  Work on conversion or hire someone that knows internet sales.
  • Too Busy – You get a couple of clients and are then too busy to keep taking new work – create easier products, outsource or hire people.  Keep growing the base.
  •  Fear – Are you afraid to increase prices?  It depends on your market, but this is often overlooked as a source of additional income.  Test new prices and if it slows sales, use a coupon code or special offer to bring it back down.
  • Delivery – You have to have a good way to deliver what you promised.  Your Internet marketing formula will break down if you are losing customers.
  • Strategy – Internet marketing is a long term process.  Very seldom can you set something up and forget about it.  It takes continuous effort or eventually other people will take your traffic and visibility.  Need help?  Hire a virtual buzz assistant.
  • Too tricky – don’t get too tricky.  Custom development of applications is expensive and should not be done without good reason.  A low cost WordPress blog with a little customization can yield huge internet marketing results with good writing.

Measure everything you do in terms of your custom Internet marketing Formula.  Strengthen every area and watch your profitability soar.

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Yes You Do Have a Content Marketing Strategy!

Eslite Bookstore in Taichung Chung-yo Departme...Image via WikipediaI just read an excellent post at Chris Brogan’s blog about Content Marketing.

If you think you do not have a content marketing strategy, you are wrong.  It is just that your content marketing strategy stinks.

Do any of these describe your stinky content strategy?

  • You have a website that never changes
  • You started a blog but it did not produce sales so you stopped
  • You write about things every once in a while but no one seems to care
  • Your enewsletter has a small audience and a low open rate
  • You write directly about your products that you are trying to sell all the time

The #1 reason I love Chris’ post is that he is discussing content marketing, not blogging.  When I talk to people about blogging, they think that setting up a blog and posting occasionally should do something for them. It may, but people usually give up before it kicks in.

If you instead understand that you are considering a content marketing strategy, then everything changes.  It is not about the technology (wordpress hosting) but about how you are going to build an audience and content that generates leads long term.

Now lets imagine that you are starting a TV show.  Is your TV show a success because you filmed 10 episodes?  Or is your TV show a success because you have built an audience and advertisers want to sponsor it?  Obviously the latter.

If you want to have a serious content marketing strategy, you are going to have to write about what people want to read, not what you want to tell them.  And you are going to need to learn how to write artilces for search engines as well as people, and how to build links and how to use social media to not be invisible.

Does it sound like a lot of work?  It is.

You’d think that all the great free martketing tools and low cost publishing solutions would benefit the small business owner.  It does not.  The constantly changing landscape and the skills that are needed to use them well mean that creating the audience and producing content is a bigger part of your job than running your business.  And lets face it, you probably do not have the time or the money to do it right.

That does not mean that you are not going to get results.  It does mean that you are very unlikely to get big results unless you make a big effort, which means all those “free” tools are not so free because you need people feeding them great, original and interesting content.

This is not something new

Years ago we went into business with a great eMagazine publishing system.  We got a fair number of clients and we were not a cheap hosting solution.  The problem we found was that our big clients (Universities and Magazine Publishers) were using the tools every week and getting fantastic results because they had people committed to publishing emagazines on a big scale to audiences that cared.

Our smaller clients, usually small businesses,  liked the idea of publishing emagazines and they were paying clients – but they were not getting a good ROI.  Why?  They liked the idea but they did not actually use the tools consistently.  I hated taking their money, even though we were providing them with a good solution that had the potential to create huge value.

Flash forward to now.  Web publishing solutions are everywhere for free or for a very low cost.  But you are still not getting it.  It is not about the tools, it is about having a solid content marketing strategy.

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Auto Posting to WordPress

Recently I was interested in building a larger network of blogs that my Virtual Buzz Assistants could auto post to.

It seemed like a simple thing, but with a lot of research I found that remote submitting to a WordPress  blogis tricky.

There are several reasons that auto posting is not super easy.  One reason is that it is a security hole – if you made it easy to submit data to wordpress, it could be exploited to wreck someone’s blog.

Next, there are a lot of ways to do it but no standard, best way that is easy to set up.  I am going to post my findings and an explanation of my solution to help those of you that are looking for information about auto posting to WordPress.  Just keep in mind this is not the only way.

Why auto submit posts to WordPress?

The first thing you may be wondering is why?  Well, in my case, I have paying members of the Virtual Assistant network I run.  I wanted to set up some industry specific blogs and let these trained people write blog posts to these blogs to help them generate more buzz and inbound links for their clients.  No, it is not the only tool and technique they have, but it is one weapon in their buzz arsinol.

Submit Posts to WordPress Via Email

The first solution I came up with was to set up a form that would then (hidden) submit an email to the blog.  The blog would then pick up the email and post it.

While this technique should work, I spent several hours trying to get the wordpress plug in to work and I finally gave up.   It was also going to be tricky to set the whole thing up and get it to post into the correct category.  Plus, there was always a chance that spam filters could filter out some of the posts or mess them up with the parcing.  Ultimately, I just stopped trying because it did not work.

Then I discovered WP-o-Matic.  This plug in posts rss feeds to your blog on a regular schedule.  I suppose a lot of people use it to import data from other sites, but it is a very useful tool for taking your RSS stream and posting it.  It only took me a day to build an interface that stores the articles people write in a database and output it in RSS format via a secret rss link.  The WP-o-matick plugin then checks the rss feed every few hours and posts new posts.  I even added some things like delays on posting, by making the articles date adjustible up to one week in the future.

Once this was figured out for one blog, it was super easy to do for all future blogs, taking less than an hour to set up and configure a new blog with this capacity.

The key to auto-posting in WordPress turned out to be not posting in WordPress at all.

Other Advantages to this WordPress Strategy

There are some other advantages to this strategy.  If I want to allow other people to have their blogs in our network to recieve auto submitted articles, it is simple.  I simply send them instrcutions on how to set up the wp-o-matic plug in and the links to their rss.  They do not have to give me access to their blog at all.

Also, because RSS is a simple stream of data, I have a lot of flexibility with it.  For example, I could later put summaries up of all posts in another blog automatically, if I so chose.

One Disadvantage

The one big disadvantage I see in this auto posting strategy is that I cannot confirm that a post has happened.  I could maybe scrape the site and check later, but that is more work than I want to do.  So right now, you just have to check the blog later and see that the post has happened.

Non-technical people

I know there are some non-technical people out there that will not like this article because any coding is a barrier.  In your case, you may want to keep playing with the email feature to get it to work.  However, if you have some basic coding skills, it is easy to add data to a database and create an RSS feed that you can then import for auto posting into WordPress.  I am getting glowing feedback from the users and it has been a great tool for distributed publishing.

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