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The Mobile Majority Wants Your Small Business

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mobile small business Remember when mobile phones used to be about..making a call? Neither do I. The explosive growth of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices over the past few years has drastically and permanently changed the way we socialize, work, and do business. The net-net? It’s imperative to travel with your customers and prospects wherever they go.

In fact, a recent report revealed that 28% of smartphone users and 55% of tablet users shop online: That means they are searching, evaluating, or making purchases—possibly all three in one fell swoop. That’s why small businesses—whether  a consultant, online site, or retail—are now expected to serve up discoverable, easy to navigate, and actionable content on mobile devices. If not, there is a gaping hole of awareness, customer and  prospect interaction, and the opportunity for your competition to grab business.

Consider these recent mobile device statistics:

Convinced?

Even though you know it’s the “right” move for your business, thinking about the effort required can be overwhelming, or perhaps you don’t even know where to start. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to position your business in the mobile marketing game without reshuffling your plans, allocating a huge budget, or calling yourself a tech-genius.

Depending on whether you have a store-front, are a consultant, ecommerce site, or other business model, you will have one or more content areas to mobile-ize. Additional factors to consider will be your overall marketing goals, tools you use to promote your business, and how often you communicate with your customers and prospects.

Let’s start making your content mobilicious:

  • Entice with easy-to-read mail: The great thing about optimizing email for mobile devices is that you’ll get a two-for-one: Not only will your email be easier to read, visually pleasing, and clear on what action to take, it will result in a better promotion on any size screen. Here are some rules of thumb:
    • Keep the text short and punchy: Edit. Edit. Edit. What email wouldn’t benefit from that?
    • Use time and space wisely with your Call-to-Action (CTA): Think discounts, free offers, and new services you want to promote.
    • Have few images but make them clickable: Streamlined but effective graphics can pull double duty by being touch-friendly to navigate and also prompting action, such as pointing to social media icons, or click to buy, to name a few.
    • Let the fingers do the walking: With virtually all smartphones using a touchscreen these days, make sure your email is “finger-friendly” to open, navigate, and zoom around the content.
    • Consider getting help: If email marketing is a big part of your business, think about hiring a vendor to do the heavy lifting for you, such as Movable Ink or BrightWave Marketing.

So is your small business ready to join the mobile majority? Yes, it will require some initial work, but taking these steps today will put you front and center with your customers and prospects wherever they are, now and in the future.

Once you get on the mobile marketing train, I recommend that you stay up to speed on the trends: Because it’s a growing and ever-changing technology, being ahead of the curve will help improve your chances for mobile marketing success. Check out resources on all aspects of mobile marketing. There are tons more online.

What’s next? Start thinking about blinging out your presence with apps, QR codes, video, texting, advertising, search widgets, which will be covered in my article next month.

Image credit: Bigstock

5 Creative Solutions for Twitter Embeds on WordPress

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When WordPress came out with the ability to embed Tweets on posts and pages, a few of us thought, “cool.” It’s so easy. Just click on “Expand”, then on “Details,” which will open up the single tweet. Then just copy and paste the URL. And there you are: a sweet, instantly embedded tweet, like this:

 

But after the excitement wore down, we struggled to find a really good use of it, and it seemed that the feature would become just another WordPress function.

With that said, let’s wrap our brains around 5 ways to get creative with embedded tweets.

1. The Rambling Testimonial Problem

Sometimes your clients’ testimonials can seem too formal, too long or lacking in authenticity while the real ones —short, to the point and fun— are ‘hidden in unexpected places.

The Solution: Mix it up by embedding a few real-time tweets on your site’s pages along with your others. If someone brags about your services, workshops or products in a tweet, be ready to capture it before it whooshes by.

2. The Boring Review Problem

Sometimes reviews of products or services feel canned to your readers, lacking in freshness, spontaneity and personality. They are just plain boring.

The Solution: I see fantastic, personal, in-the-moment tweets about restaurants, hotels and other products and services come through my stream all the time. If you see a tweet about you or your business, take it for what it is and consider using it because it’ll make a powerful statement.

3. The Dull Fact Problem

Sometimes facts you want to present in a blog post or web page are intriguing and other times they are dull.

The Solution: If someone shares a fact on Twitter,  someone with a name and a face, well, that makes it more interesting. Of course, you should verify that it is indeed true, but think about livening up your article or post with it.

4. The Self-Important About Page Problem

Let’s face it. An about page can easily become the ramblings of an egomaniac. Whether you write in the first person or third person, you are talking about yourself and attempting to show the world that you can solve their problems. It can make you feel icky, writing so much about yourself.

The Solution: Sometimes someone shares something unique about you on Twitter and in fewer than 140 characters, the have captured the essence of you. It’s great because it provides social proof. It isn’t just you saying things about yourself. A few tweets from other people on your about page offer that unique, outside perspective.

5. The I’m-Talking-to-Myself Problem

 Your blog can feel like one huge echo chamber  if it’s always just you.

The Solution: Bringing in new voices to supplement your post or story is a great way to create a conversational setting. By scattering tweets here and there from people who have something to say about your topic in real time can add an in-the-moment feel. Another benefit of embedding your tweets is that if a reader finds the per on interesting, they can click and follow them on Twitter, right from your blog.

What other ways can you see embedded tweets being used to make your content more powerful?

Free Gift: WordPress Training from Bob Dunn [12 Days of Giveaways]

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A free gift from NMX Speaker Bob Dunn: WordPress Training Videos

Here at NMX, planning for our January event is in full swing…but that doesn’t mean we don’t have time for the holidays! That’s why, every day from now through December 25, we’re featuring a brand new giveaway for the entire NMX community!

Bob Dunn is one of the best WordPress teachers I know, so today I’m excited to tell you about his new giveaway: A complete WordPress 101 video series! If you’re new to WordPress, these videos are for you…and even if you’re an experienced user, you might learn a few new tricks. With this series, you’ll learn about:
  • WordPress Settings and Features: What can you do with WordPress and what settings should you change?
  • Post and Page Creation: Bob walks you through the main ways to add content to your blog.
  • Post and Page Settings: Find out what the differences are and learn about the settings involved with each.
  • Categories and Tags: What are they and how can you create/use them?
  • Images: Learn how to upload and use images on your blog.

Like all of our 12 Days of Giveaways gifts, Bob’s video series is completely free for members of our brand new community, NMX University. (Don’t worry – membership there is also free!) You can access the complete video series for a limited time!

Find out more about this video series and register for NMXU here, of if you are already a member, simply log in to NMXU here to access these videos today!

Bob Dunn talks about WordPress Blogs

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There are lots of popular blogging platforms out there these days, but WordPress has an incredibly loyal fanbase. NMX speaker and regular guest blogger Bob Dunn is a WordPress expert and regularly shares his knowledge with blogging newbies and established veterans. Check out what Bob has to say about self-hosting, helpful plugins, and customization in this exclusive NMX video interview below. And be sure to check out Bob’s session at NMX this January, “How to Laser-focus Your WordPress Blog In 60 Minutes.

 

There’s still time to see Bob and nearly 200 other speakers at NMX this January! Register today!

 

24 Must-Read WordPress Tips and Tricks

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WordPress tips Whenever I do a workshop on WordPress, I see the little flashes, the light bulbs that turn on when someone finally “gets it.” And it isn’t always something earth-shattering. Often it’s that tiny problem that’s been bugging you forever. You know—the one that when you solve it, life becomes a little easier.

Here 24 tips and shortcuts that might eliminate some of those bumpy spots in the road:   

  1. When you do a return in a post or page, you always get a double space. If you want it single, simply press <shift> <return> on your keyboard.
  2. Creating a powerful password for your admin login is the first step in making your site more secure. The second is to change that password monthly.
  3. To get your readers to click through to your full post, stop it at exactly the spot where they will be most curious to read the next sentence. Every post has such a spot (or it should). To take advantage, stop the post there and insert the “read more” tag.
  4. If you have unused plugins or themes installed, and have not activated, delete them. This greatly beefs up site security.
  5. If you are looking for a WordPress developer to create your site, your first question should be: “Do you know php?” If they claim to be a developer (not a designer), but their answer is no,  run!
  6. Don’t use a widget because it’s cool and shiny. Use it because it is useful to your reader.
  7. Whether it’s your WordPress blog or website, make sure that people are able to contact you. Don’t hide your contact info in size two font in the footer of the page. Make a separate, highly visible contact page.
  8. Remember, it’s WordPress. Capital W, capital P, no space between. If you land on a site and they call themselves a WordPress expert, but spell the name wrong, beware.
  9. When inserting a photo into your post or page, don’t forget the alt (alternate) tag. This is what Google looks for when it’s indexing images on the web and the big G doesn’t like a site with alt tags missing.
  10. If you have chosen to block search engines in your privacy setting during the construction of your blog or website, remember to turn it back on when you go live. Because that little sucker blocks them good.
  11. Keeping your plugins up-to-date is just as important as keeping your WordPress version up-to-date.
  12. Do you want to change your homepage to a static page rather than your blog? Can’t figure out what to do? Create a page for your homepage and one for your blog. Then go to settings >reading and change the settings on the “front page displays.”
  13. If you are self-hosted, back up your database and all your files regularly. Hear that? Back up, back up!
  14. Think about the theme you choose for your blog or website. Does it meet all your needs? Does it allow your site to grow as your business grows? Because if you decide to switch themes down the road, chances are it’s not a simple one-click process.
  15. If you fly off the handle or rant in a blog post, remember, the moment you hit that publish button, it appears on the web and to your RSS subscribers. If you are angry when you write a post, it’s always best to save it as a draft and revisit it later for one last look.
  16. Use a photo to provoke emotions in your blog post. Not only will you attract more readers, but they will remember your content longer.
  17. If you have only one row of tools when you are creating a page or post, simply click on the far right button, “show kitchen sink,” and you will get a whole second row of tools.
  18. If you are still using the default “admin” for your user name, it’s time to get rid of it. Create a new one, then delete the old one, assigning all posts and pages to your new user name. Otherwise you are giving hackers 50% of your login info.
  19. If you cannot find an option on your edit post or page window, check the tab “screen options” in the upper right corner. That feature may be hidden.
  20. To expand your editor window, grab the lower right, ridged corner and drag it.
  21. Be careful when you underline text. Readers still have a habit of thinking any underlined text is a link.
  22. Remember to turn off your comments on static pages. No one wants to comment on your about or contact page.
  23. Remove or replace the default blog tagline under your general settings. Otherwise, people will see that generic message that says, “Just Another WordPress Site.”
  24. And lastly, don’t be taken in by over-promises.  Like most worthwhile things, WordPress has a learning curve.

The 5 Biggest Obstacles (& Solutions!) to Getting Your Blog Started

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blog consulting

Image Credit: Benjamin Belew

In my years of blog consulting with veterans, businesses, newbie and wannabe bloggers I have learned that there are generally five obstacles that most bloggers face when getting started.

In this article I will share those five obstacles AND the solutions to them.

Will Rogers was a cowboy, vaudeville performer and social commentator who lived in the late 19th to early 20th centuries.  Rogers is credited with having first said, “If you can do it, it ain’t bragging.”

I am not “horn tooting” here. Rather I want the reader to have confidence that what I have learned and share here comes not from theory, but from real world experience. I’ve helped more people create web sites than I can remember AND get in total real/relevant traffic that is approaching 100,000,000 page views (that’s right, 100 million)–primarily (80%+) from search engines. I ain’t bragging.

Obstacle #1 Picking a Domain Name

I am genuinely surprised at the number of times that I have sat with small businesses to corporate clients who were paying me from $200-500/hr (really!) to discuss with them what domain name they should use.

I suppose it is natural to think that some names might be better than others and it is best to choose the most ideal name.

The simple truth – it really doesn’t matter what your domain name is. I have some very stupid names for some of my sites and they still have received anywhere from 1 – 30 million page views total depending on the topic.

Question: Why is that?

Answer: The domain name is not nearly as important as the title of your blog, your tagline, your choice of categories, the title you choose on individual posts and posting consistently relevant content to your blog. Get these latter points right and you can call your blog anything you want.

That being said, I do have some suggestions.

1. Choose something people can spell.

Americans are pretty much spelling challenged. If you were not born between 1954 and 1959, you probably are not that good at putting all your letters in a row correctly. From ’54-’59 Americans learned how to spell phonetically. I can spell things I have never heard or seen before (usually) and I can guess at the reading of most words. Yeah, I am old. I know it. My brother was born in ’53. He can’t spell to save his soul. My sister was born in ’60. Yup, can’t spell.

Not long ago GoDaddy invited me to their HQ for a tour and some priming. I’ll explain below. One of the things I learned was that the average length of a domain name is 8-9 characters. GoDaddy would know. They have sold some 53 million names.

Choose something that is as short as possible and that people can spell.

2. Use your own name.

I own BillBelew.com. It is not because I am vain. It is because it’s me. It was also the name of Elvis Presley’s costume designer. That Bill Belew died a few years ago. I got a LOT of visits from friends asking, “Bill, are you okay?” If you happen to have the name of somebody famous, good for you. Most don’t. For the most part, if you can’t think of a good domain name that hasn’t been used in 10 minutes or less, use your own name. Add your middle initial if you must. Add your title. First initial, last name. First name, last initial. That sort of thing. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of choosing something for your domain name and getting started. I will explain why in my session at NMX.

3. You can always change your domain name.

My son is a concert pianist who started getting pretty popular. People asked him if he had a web site. When he told them the name (it was an old fantasy character), the response was “Huh?!”

Repeat the name.

“Huh?”

He ended up buying the name BenjaminBelew.com and used a redirect to the old website domain name. Nobody knows the difference unless they check the URL box at the top AFTER they type in the domain name. Who does that? Curious? Take a look at www.benjaminbelew.com and see how it changes.

Obstacle #2 – Choosing good/reliable/cheap hosting

At least half the world’s population is shoppers.

Question: Where is the best place to get the most reliable hosting at the cheapest price?

Answer: Short of someone subsidizing the costs, the cheapest place to go is www.bm2hosting.com

(Full disclosure – I own this, but keep reading before you pass judgment on what may seem to be self promotion.)

I bought the rights to be a reseller for the world’s largest domain and hosting company. See above. I asked them, “What is the lowest possible price I can sell domains and hosting for without me having to dip into my own pocket to pay?” The prices offered at BM2Hosting are the lowest you will find anywhere. When people buy there, I do not make any money. Seriously, I pay a nominal sum annually to be able to resell these products so that my students and clients will not get bogged down searching for something better. There isn’t anything better.

  1. Nowhere more cheaply
  2. 24/7 support – great customer service
  3. Solid reputation

Obstacle #3 – Selecting Best Template

There is Blogger and WordPress and Typepad and Homemade.

Google’s chief of search engine findability and spam prevention recommends WordPress. He uses a WordPress template. And he says that WordPress templates are search engine friendly “out of the box.” And he has all of Google’s Blogger resources at his disposal! Use WordPress.

It has:

  1. More flexibility – If you can think of something you’d like to have/do at your blog, somebody has figured out a way to do it.
  2. More options – Too many! Don’t get bogged down.
  3. Ease of use – If you can write an email, you can use WordPress.
  4. Availability of help – There is a whole industry of worker bees helping people with their WordPress blogs. Don’t know who to ask? Ask me.

Question: Which WordPress template should you use?

Answer: If you can’t decide within 15 minutes of looking at the many FREE options that WordPress offers, choose the default template and go with it for now. The simple truth – in the beginning it doesn’t matter what your site looks like, nobody is coming anyway. What is important is getting started.

Choose a template, start writing and hit publish–often.

Obstacle #4 Choosing What to Write About

Question: What is the single best way to get more traffic to your web site?

Answer: Write more.

It is absolutely fundamental that the more you write, that is, the more often you hit the publish button, the higher the probability of AND the more actual visits you will see. Nothing beats publishing more. Period. Unless it would be writing more and better, using good SEO principles. I will explain this at my session at NMX.

For now, I tell people to write about something that:

  1. They are interested in – Usually when people ask me what to write about, they mean to ask what the highest paying niches are. I know the answer. But, why would you want to write about something you don’t care about just so you can make more money?
  2. You can create an interest in – Write about your topic so much that people will think, “Hey, I’d better go see what all the fuss is all about.” A good, hard-working blogger really can create their own ‘celebrity’ status.
  3. Is timeless – This is stuff that is always on people’s “to-know” list. Five of these, four reasons for, How to… and so on.
  4. Is timely – What does what you know have to do with what is going on in the world around you? Make the connection.
  5. You have a lot to say about – I tell my clients they need to write about something they have 1,000 things to say about. Literally a thousand. Don’t have that much to say? You will be hard pressed to make money blogging, I think.

Obstacle #5 It’s too much work

Making a living blogging is a lot of work. Getting good results (a LOT of traffic at your blog) from is a lot of work. Doing better business, getting more leads, more clients, more offers from your blog is a lot of work. But if you don’t want to work hard, I have solved that problem, too.

Write a big check (depends on your goals) and I will do it for you. And, if not me, there are people who will ghost blog for you. But it costs money.

There is no reason why you can’t get started blogging today. You can go from zero to hitting the publish button in about two hours.

The five biggest obstacles to getting started blogging are overcome

  1. Name – done
  2. Hosting – done
  3. Template – done
  4. Content – done
  5. Hard – done

What are you waiting for? Get started today.

State of the Blogging World in 2012

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Imagine how differently things would be if WordPress were never created. Before I started my blog five years ago at ZacJohnson.com, everything I did was through basic HTML and if I ever wanted something complex done, I would have to contact a programmer or just didn’t end up pursuing it.

Jump ahead a few years and WordPress and blogging is everywhere! WordPress isn’t just for blogging anymore, but it’s a full content management system that can do anything you can dream up. Thanks to all of the programmers, coders and designers out there who have made a living out of WordPress customization, we can all focus on using WordPress to create anything we like.

The days of blogging just being for people to write their thoughts and opinions online are over… WordPress is free, yet it still powers some of the world’s most known web sites that are worth billions of dollars! The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo, eBay, People Magazine, New York Times, Wired, Mozilla… all WordPress running platforms and blogs!

State of the Blogging World in 2012

Just the thought of blogging and WordPress in itself is enough to blow your mind, but having some fun stats and an infographic to break it all down is even better. Let’s take a look at some of the mind blowing numbers behind WordPress and the millions of users who rely on the software every day.

There are an estimated 31 million bloggers in the U.S. as of July 2012.

Businesses Blogging Stats

  • 60% of Businesses have a Blog
  • 35% Blog At Least Once A Month
  • 65% Haven’t Blogged Once In The Past Year

U.S. Blogging Stats For 2012

  • 42,000,000 Blogs in the US
  • 329 Million People View A Blog Monthly
  • 25 Billion Pages Viewed Monthly
  • 500,000 Daily New Posts
  • 400,000 Daily Comments

For even more crazy WordPress stats, check out the full infographic below.

Special thanks to Blogging.org for the creation of this infographic.

The Devil Is in the Details: A Blogger’s Guide to Best-Kept WordPress Secrets

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Last week, at BlogWorld in NYC, I found myself thinking about the conference in a different way. I had recently organized WordCamp Seattle for the first time. And as I watched BlogWorld unfold, I could relate to all the energy the organizers had expended up to then, and what they would be experiencing over the next three days—although BWE was easily 10 times bigger than my event. The key to a successful conference is attention to the details. because it’s the small things that can make a big difference in an attendee’s experience.

And as I finished presenting my session at BlogWorld, I thought about how the experience of WordPress users can also be affected by the small details. WordPress is notorious for hiding small, simple solutions. Some of the brightest people I know have struggled for hours with something that should just have taken them mere minutes.

When I share these small details at workshops, I always find at least one person who has been using WordPress for months, only to finally have their ‘a-ha moment.’ More often than not I will hear a gasp coming from a chair somewhere in the back row.

It was no different at my session at BlogWorld.

Those freaking’ WordPress details that can drive a blogger mad

The Kitchen Sink

If you have been working with one row of buttons in your editor window, live dangerously and click on that last button. Now you suddenly have a whole new row of options.

Editor Window Size

By default, the editor window isn’t very big, which makes it hard to see much of the post or page you are working on. Here are two solutions: 1) grab that ridged corner in the bottom right and drag, or 2) go to settings > writing and increase the number of lines in the size of post box.

Privacy Setting

Are you not showing up in Google? Sometimes by default, or perhaps when the person was setting up your site, they may have blocked your site to keep the search engines from indexing your page before your site was finished. Make sure you check out your privacy settings under settings > privacy.

Changing Your Homepage from a Blog to a Static Homepage

This is a biggie. So many times bloggers find a simple theme, but down the road decide they would rather have the homepage, or landing page, a static intro instead of a lists of posts. They would rather see the blog as an inside page. It’s pretty simple. Create a page, call it homepage, and add your content. Then create a page and call it ‘Blog,’ but don’t add any content to it. Now go into your settings > reading and change “Front page displays” to “Static Page.”

Your Publicly Seen User Name

Typically, when you create a username to sign in to your WordPress dashboard, it isn’t your actual name (for security reasons, of course). Your user name might be something like: bobX45Ng88. But when you do a post, you don’t want it to say “Posted by bobX45Ng88”. So go into your profile, fill in your first and last name, and then, from the drop down menu by “Display name publicly as,” choose your first, last, or both names for your posts. Or you can create a nickname and use that instead.

Hide Comment Box on Pages

This is a common mistake. There is nothing more strange looking than to find a comment box on a page of a site. For example, if I see a comment box on your contact page, I think, what the heck? Am I supposed to say something like “Wow, great contact page. I never thought of doing one like this. I really like how you created this form.” Your theme may allow you to turn off comments on all pages globally, but if not, when creating a page, scroll down to your Discussion options and uncheck the “Allow Comment” box. It will make your readers and your blog much happier.

So, there you have it, just some of the small details in WordPress that can drive a blogger crazy.

What other things have taken you over the edge of sanity?

Q & A with Bob: 5 of My Most Frequently Asked WordPress Questions

Author:

We live in a quick-and-easy culture. We want everything fast. That is why we hear so many WordPress peeps saying:

Set up your blog in less than an hour!

Start blogging in minutes!

WordPress is so easy, even my 90-year-old grandmother can set up her own blog!

Changing themes is as simple as putting on a new coat of nail polish! (Yes, someone actually said that on Twitter.)

The problem with that is it ignores the fact that there can be, like with any new experience, a learning curve. And it makes all those smart professionals feel stupid if they can’t create a blog over their lunch period.

The over-promisers are always going to be there. They know that ‘fast,’ ‘quick,’ and ‘easy’ are persuasive words in marketing copy.

But jumping in without giving certain issues some thought can create headaches down the road. WordPress is a powerful blogging tool, and once you learn how to best use it, you will love it. Just don’t rush into it.

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself when you are setting up that WordPress blog:

1. Are the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org important?

Actually, yes.  In another post I wrote here I explained how some people are confused by the two options: WordPress.org (aka self-hosted) and WordPress.com (the blog is parked on the WordPress site). There are pros and cons to both. For example, it’s really hard to monetize your blog on .com. Choices of themes are also limited and you don’t have the ability to add plugins. On the other hand, self -hosted means that you have the added responsibility for keeping your site secure, updated and backed up.

2. What theme should I use?

This one is huge. Many new clients come to me because, after  spending hours installing a theme, they have found that it doesn’t fit their needs in the end. Some themes are more suited to simple blogs , while others work better if you want  turn your blog into a dynamic information source. And your options for presenting your expert content can be limited, depending on the theme’s layout, navigation and aesthetic design. Always look at a theme with an eye toward how you can plug your content into the layout and design.

3. Are there certain specific plugins I should use?

Of course. But remember: it’s always quality over quantity. Find those plugins that help with the critical parts: catching spam, SEO, site load speed, and things like that.  Choose ones that fill a specific need and don’t treat them like toys. Because they may be fun to play with, but are they really useful for your readers?

4. Does it matter where I host my site?

Damn well it does. A host can either make or break your site—literally. Don’t always look at price, although there are several good, affordable hosts out there. Listen to what other users are saying about them. Do a search on Twitter and see if they have experienced a lot of down time. Before you sign up, make sure they’ll work with you if you experience a problem. (Some hosts wiggle out by telling you that WordPress off is a ‘third-party software’ and it’s their issue to solve.)  And make sure you can get the support you need—when you need it. I look for hosts that provide both phone support and a 24/7 chat line.

5. Should I just dive into WordPress head first?

No simple answer here because it depends on your comfort level with technology. Although WordPress is a powerful blogging tool, I am the first to admit that it’s not the most intuitive. You can ask the dozens of people I have trained after they cursed and struggled with it. But do explore the dashboard. Poke around, see what does what. Find tools that will help you along the way, but don’t spend hours googling for answers to your questions. There are tons of resources to help you get started. And don’t be afraid to ask people you know and trust about the resources that best fit your individual learning style (podcasts for the auditory learner, print or video tutorials for the visual learner, etc.).

These five points barely  touch the surface. For more practical advice on how not to muck up your WordPress site as you get started, come to my session at BlogWorld in NYC. I promise to make you more confident to tackle your WordPress blog—and give you a few chuckles in the process. See you in New York.

The Confusion Lingers with WordPress.com and WordPress.org

Author:

A few months back I was at a day-long conference for realtors and dropped in on a beginning WordPress session. The focus was on starting up a blog and the questions were pretty typical. As often happens, some of the same questions cropped up. One was, what is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

As the speaker began to explain it, I saw some puzzled faces. People were clearly confused, especially three beginning bloggers.

Then, about a week ago, a start-up blogger sent me an email. She was totally confused. Someone had told her that it “was better to use .org,” but didn’t tell her what that meant. Of course, she thought he was talking about .org on the end of her domain name (as opposed to .com). So she ended up buying the .org extension. When I asked her why, she said, “He told me I should be using .org instead, and that’s all he said.”

Now I will admit I have used that same line for a long time. All of us WordPress peeps do. But several months ago, I realized that it’s confusing to new bloggers, when we describe it as “WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org.”

So, I took it upon myself to change it. Now I explain it as:

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org a self-hosted WordPress blog

This explanation makes much more sense. WordPress.com is a platform that allows you to build your blog for free. Your site then resides on WordPress.com.

If you go for a self-hosted blog, you are taking the free software from WordPress.org (that is the only time I mention .org, as the WordPress site where you get the software) and install it on your own hosting service, such as Bluehost, Hostgator, or God forbid, GoDaddy. And, of course, you pay a small monthly fee to whichever hosting service you choose.

There are major differences, of course, in what you can do with a free WordPress.com blog and a self-hosted one. These can all be sorted out and you can decide for yourself which is best. After, that is, you understand that going the WordPress.org route does not mean that your blog will be on the WordPress.org site.

Just like all the themes, plugins and widgets there, you are simply grabbing and putting them on your own self-hosted site. I actually heard from a colleague who had discussed moving her blog to WordPress with her current webmaster. And he insisted that her site would sit on WordPress.org. Yikes!

So let’s settle this confusion once and for all, and tell it like it is. Got it?

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