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WordPress.com Announces WordAds for Making Money with Your Blog

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Back in October, WordPress.com and Federated Media announced a partnership to help bloggers make money from advertising revenue on their blog. They’re ready to open up the doors and announced today their service called WordAds.

It’s taken WordPress quite awhile to make something like this available and they say it’s because what they had seen as far as advertising, wasn’t very tasteful. And while it seemed Google AdSense was state-of-the-art (at the time), WordPress says “you deserve better than AdSense”.

WordAds won’t be open to everyone. It’s open only by application and to publicly visible blogs with custom domains. Selection for WordAds will be based on traffic levels, engagement, type of content and language used on the blog.

To apply for WordAds, fill out this form.

For those of you who use WordPress.com, will you apply for WordAds?

 

A Beginner’s Guide to WordPress Basics

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If you’re a new blogger, you might want to check out the entire Beginner’s Guide series we’ve been doing here at the BlogWorld blog, which, to date, includes guides to Twitter Basics, SEO Basics, Podcasting Basics, and Blog Monetization Basics. Today, I wanted to cover another common challenge for new bloggers: using WordPress.

WordPress is the blogging platform used by most major bloggers who have their own domain names. Of course, it isn’t the only choice for bloggers, but I personally find it to be the best option based on the community of people developing for it, the ease of installation and use, and the various options to customize your blog and the way you use it.

Before you continue reading this post about using WordPress, head to their site to read installation instructions so you can get WordPress set up on whatever domain name you own.

Adding a Theme

The first thing I do whenever I install WordPress on a new blog is look for a theme I like so that I’m not using the generic out-of-box theme that comes with WordPress. The theme is basically the look of your blog – colors, fonts, sidebars, etc. If you know CSS, you can pretty easily make changes to any theme you see, but even if you don’t, there are thousands of choices, so you should be able to find something you like. If you’re willing to pay for your theme, check out Thesis and Genesis, two of the most well-known and easy-to-customize options out there. Want a free theme? There are tons of those available too – just do a quick search and you’ll find lots of options.

When you download a theme and unzip the file, you’ll want to add it to your site by uploading it to the themes folder. When you log into your WordPress dashboard, you’ll be able to access all of the themes under “Appearance” on the sidebar. From there, you can preview how the themes would look on your site and choose which one to make live.

Adding Plugins

Plugins are awesome. Basically, they add additional functions to your blog based on what you personally need for your community. Personally, my favorite plugins are:

  • All-In-One SEO – perfect to for simple SEO on all of your posts
  • Zemanta – helps you interlink posts on your own site, find related posts to recommend, and add tags to your post
  • Livefyre – my personal comment plugin of choice is Livefyre, though you can also make a case for Disqus (what we use currently here at BlogWorld) and CommentLuv with the generic WordPress comment system, which simple adds a person’s more recent post to the end of their comment

In addition, though there are several individual plugins that perform each of these functions, I recommend using plugins for:

  • Creating a mobile version of your site
  • Adding buttons for social sharing (on individual posts, in a top/bottom bar, along the side of the post, etc.)
  • Adding contact forms to your pages or posts (if you don’t want to list your email address)
  • Building galleries of your pictures
  • Creating tables
  • Backing up your site (SUPER important – check out BlogWorld speaker Peter Pollock’s post on protecting your blog)
  • Adding your author profile to the top or bottom of a post

This is not the end-all list of plugins you can add to make your blog more functional for you and for readers. Spend some time browsing through the available plugins to find those that make sense for your blog.

Setting Up Your Sidebar

After you’ve installed WordPress, added a theme, and set up plugins, your next step is to set up your sidebar. I recommed you include the following things on your sidebar:

  • Links to your most recent posts
  • A sign-up box for your mailing list (I use Aweber)
  • A link for people to subscribe to your blog via RSS
  • Links/buttons to your social network profiles
  • A list of your categories or other navigational tools
  • Polls
  • A calendar of events or posts

You can also consider adding a list of your most popular posts, advertising, a blogroll, a search bar, your Amazon wishlist, Youtube videos, links to products you’re selling or affiliate products, a list of the most recent comments on your blog, a tag cloud or list of popular tags…and much, much more. If you want to add it to your sidebar, there’s a way to do it – and most of what you’ll add to your sidebar, you’ll do so with widgets.

You install a widget much like you’d install a plugin. Under the “appearance” tab on your dashboard sidebar, you’ll see a link to show your widgets, so you can simply drag and drop them onto your sidebar. Easy peasy. There’s also a text box if you want to get all HTML-y and add your own code instead of using a widget for something you want to display.

Configuration

Next, head into your profile (under “Users”) on the sidebar and update it as necessary for your blog. You should pay special attention to your display name (go with a name or nickname rather than “admin”) and your biographical information if you include a theme or plugin that adds your bio to each post.

Remember to go to Gravatar to upload an avatar associated with your email address if you don’t have one already.

Under the “Settings” tab on your dashboard sidebar, you’ll also want to do some more configuration work on your blog. Here’s what you should do, at minimum:

  • Under General: Add your blog title and a tagline (or at least delete the default) and change the blog to your timezone
  • Under Permalinks: Change the permalinks structure to something better than the default numbering system

I recommend going through each page under Settings and considering your various options. While the defaults work for many bloggers, you might want something different.

Adding Content

Congrats – you’re finally ready to add content! There are two different types of content you can add via WordPress (and most blogging platforms):

  • Posts: the general articles you want to add to your blog day by day
  • Pages: content that is more informative to help the user understand more about your blog or you

Posts are linked to both categories and tags. Categories give a broad, general topic while tags are more specific topics. Most bloggers have categories are a main navigational function and choose to include 5 to 15. You can also include a few main categories and then several subcategories under each main “parent” category. Tags tell your reader what an individual post is about. There’s no limit to the number of tags you use on your blog, though most recommend that you don’t use more than 10 or so on any one post.

Pages include things such as About Me, Contact, Archives, About the Blog, Best Of, and more. They’re typically included on the navigation bar of a blog so people can find them quickly.

WordPress Pointers for Beginners

Here are some more tips and tricks for using WordPress if you don’t have experience with this platform.

  • You can change the permalink for a post of page under the main title box by clicking on the “edit” button. This is helpful for SEO in many cases and can also help you create a permalink that is easy to remember.
  • You can work in a WYSIWYG editor or HTML editor – whichever is more comfortable for you.
  • Most of the editing buttons are self-explanatory, since they’re similar to what you already use in word processing programs. Some that you may not know: to the right of the link buttons you’ll see one called “insert more tag” when you hover. This adds “read more” to the post on your homepage which is beneficial if you write extremely long posts and don’t want the whole thing displayed. Beside the spell check, you’ll see a blue box called “toggle full screen” which can be beneficial when you’re writing posts. Beside that, you’ll see a button called “show/hide kitchen sink” which, when clicked, gives you even more editing options.
  • You don’t have to publish a post immediately. You can also schedule it to go up at a specific time in the future by choosing the “edit” option in the publish box.
  • You can move boxes around on your dashboard to make it more functional for you. Simply drag and drop!
  • At the bottom of your edit post page, you can see previous revisions and auto-saves of a post.

If you’re a WordPress user, I want to encourage you to leave your own tips in a comment below!

WordPress Releases Retro Mac Theme in Honor of Steve Jobs

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The internet was in full force yesterday honoring the life of Steve Jobs. From his best quotes and his 2005 Stanford commencement speech, to the way he changed technology forever. It was inspiring to see the different ways people chose to highlight his life, his legacy and keep the memory of him alive.

Boing Boing gave their front page a new look yesterday, which I thought was fantastic. It had the nostalgic classic Mac look we all know so well. Now WordPress has taken note and created a free Retro Mac theme.

WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg commented on the design saying, “Yesterday one of the tributes I noticed was the website Boing Boing switched their theme to one reminiscent of the original Macintosh interface, one of the several times Jobs would make a ding in the universe through his work. It seemed fitting, and we wanted to make it available to all of you, so our theme team worked through the night and here it is”.

Here’s a description of the Retro Mac theme:

A whimsical homage to the days in black and white, celebrating the magic of Mac OS. Dress up your blog with retro, chunky-grade pixellated graphics to evoke some serious computer nostalgia. In all its remembrance and respect, Retro MacOS also supports recent functionality. Read on to learn more.

You can download the theme here.

Do you have a favorite way Steve Jobs was honored yesterday? Let us know in the comment section below.

Friday Findings – July 1st, 2011

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Friday Findings is a weekly series where I show some link love and bring you interesting stories from around the web. From social media news and viral videos, to news on technology and more.


What Facebook/Skype Video Chat Might Look Like [MOCKUP] – With the latest breaking news about Facebook launching a video chat product through Skype Mashable has created this mockup as to what it might look like.

WordPress finally launches a full-featured mobile blogging app — for webOS – WordPress has launched a mobile app for webOS, which appears to be designed with the HP TouchPad tablet in mind.

The Best Apps of the Week – Gizmodo rounds up the best apps of the week, which include a GPS app for the iPhone, Google+ for Android and Fotopedia North Korea for the iPad. See what else made the list.

Why Google+ Doesn’t Stand a Chance Against Facebook – Has Google gotten it right? Can it stand up to Facebook? Read why this guy’s money is on Facebook.

Bloggers; Have Attitude, Will Travel – Have you met the diva blogger at any blogging events? It seems we need a blogger etiquette handbook, no?

Tell Us Your Favorite Plugins

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We all have our go-to plugins when launching WordPress … you know, the ones that make your life immensely easier – and your blog easier to use.

For me (in random order) they are:

And then, of course, it depends on the blog as to what other plugins I install. Maybe Lightbox Gallery, or eShop, or Collapsible Archive.

There are other obscure plugins that I have yet to use but look interesting. Ones like WP-Invoice or the Ebay Sale Lister.

It seems lately, if I need something for my website, it’s only a plugin away! We have the top 10 downloaded plugins, but we want to hear from you. What are your favorite WordPress plugins? What should we be installing today?

14 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Blogging Platforms

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Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, along with a huge link of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts here.

Want to be a BlogWorld Brilliant Blogger? Scroll to the end to find out how to submit your post for an upcoming edition!

This Week’s Topic: WordPress Vs. Other Blogging Platforms

Although I’ve used other platforms in the past, I’m firmly a WordPress girl. Most of the bloggers out there who are making an income from blogging use WordPress, and in my opinion, it’s really the best way to go if you’re a serious blogger. Others disagree with me, for various reasons. Today, we’ll look at some brilliant comparisons of WordPress and other blogging platforms so that you can make a decision about which tool to use.

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

Blogging platform of the year 2010: Blogger or WordPress? by Andrew Paul

This is an awesome post if you’re interested in blogging but aren’t yet sure if you want to do it as a business instead of just a hobby. In this post, Andrew compares the free versions of Blogger and WordPress, and although your URL won’t be as pretty, it gives you the chance to start out blogging without paying for your own domain name and hosting. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @andrewpaul123.

WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal by Tim Stiffler-Dean

Tim’s post is an oldie but goodie. He leaves Blogger (as well as Typepad, Squarespace, and some other CMSs) out of the conversation, and focuses on three popular choices for bloggers. Some of the information is outdated at this point, but I think he does an awesome job at giving the pros and cons of each platform. Follow Tim on Twitter @anotherguy. (Hat tip to @JoshuaTitsworth for sending me this link!)

How did WordPress win? by Byrne Reese

While this post specifically compares WordPress to Movable Type, I think it makes a lot of great points that are relevant when comparing WordPress to any other CMS out there. There are a lot of great comments on this post as well, so check it out, and then follow Byrne on Twitter @byrnereese.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

Next Week’s Topic: Blogrolls and Link Love

Want your post included? Simple head to Blog Carnival and upload your link. Remember, only posts about this topic will be accepted. If you have another brilliant post, save it for a topic that better fits the post! Submissions will be accepted until February 16, 2011 at noon. Deadline pass already? Head to Blog Carnival and look under “about this edition” to find the current topic!

Top Five Things I've Learned from the WordPress/Thesis Debate

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As Brad McCarty at TNW noted, the battle is officially over. Chris Pearson, who creased the Thesis Theme has decided to change the licensing to his product, so that it is now split under a partial GPL license. WordPress’ Matt Mullenweg seems to be happy with this compromise, as it allows the theme to be compliant with GPL rules, while Chris also seems satisfied with the split GPL option. Both have been tweeting about the debate’s end, and I’m sure followers on both sides of the issue are glad the debate is over, at least for now.

In case you have no clue what I’m talking about, you can read my original post about WordPress versus Thesis. Make sure you check out the comments section too, and also head to Mark Jaquith’s blog to read his post explaining the WordPress position on this issue.

While the standoff might be over, I do think there are some take-away messages to be had. It’s kinda my schtick – finding the life lesson in any news story – in case you haven’t noticed. Don’t worry; it annoys my friends in real life, too, not just my blog readers! Here are the top five things I’ve learned from the WordPress/Thesis debate:

1. Your community is important.

Matt talked a lot about the WordPress community throughout the debate, but another clear community emerged as well: supporters of Thesis. While I will say that I think both sides got a bit unprofessional at times, having supporters is a major advantage in any debate. Even more important? The ideas for compromising that emerged from both sides. When you have a community of supporters, they can introduce new ideas and help you see an issue in a different light. A community isn’t just about people cheering you on – it is about the added value that you get from both collective thought and from individual innovative ideas.

2. The world is about compromise.

I’ve seen a lot of people tweeting and blogging about the need to stand up for your beliefs, and how Thesis shouldn’t have backed down. While I do think that having strong personal convictions is important, being someone who can compromise with other people is much more important, in my eyes. That’s what makes this world turn, dear readers. When two people have very different beliefs, you can each do your best to accommodate the other, or you can start a war. Sometimes, you need to step back from a situation and ask yourself if you’re standing up for your beliefs or just being stubborn. There’s a difference.

3. The law wasn’t written for bloggers – be prepared.

I think this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to blogging and the law. This is a brand new form of media, relatively, and when the GPL text was written, no one could have foreseen that someday there would be an issue between a blogging platform and a theme developer. We also saw a big hullabaloo last year regarding a change in FTC rules regarding how blogs handle reviews, affiliate links, and so forth. Like I said, tip of the iceberg. As the blogging industry continues to grow and change, we’re going to discover even more laws that create gray areas because they weren’t written with this kind of media in mind. Bloggers need to be prepared for these issues to arise.

4. Bloggers need thick skin.

Regardless of who was right or wrong in this debate, or even whether or not the lead debaters (i.e., Chris and Matt) were professional, hundreds – maybe even thousands – of people from both sides weighed in with their opinions. Not all of them were nice. In fact, some of them were downright mean. In my opinion, we should all leave insults and name-calling at the door, but if you’re going to post an opinion online, you have to be ready to deal with this type of behavior. It’s definitely worse in some industries than others, but all bloggers need to be mentally and emotionally prepared to have someone totally attack their opinions. When I first started blogging, I’m not ashamed to say that a few comments brought me to tears. I was ready for opposing viewpoints and even negative reactions, but I had no idea that people who didn’t even know me could be so mean. Now, I’m more prepared to deal with rude comments, and I’m a better blogger because of it. More importantly, I’m much better at responding to mean comments without losing my cool, which is something all bloggers need to learn. When you respond in a really emotional way, you just become a joke. Point in case (warning, video has strong language):

5. Read all sides of a story.

This last take-away message is more for readers than for bloggers, but I’ve never met a blogger who isn’t also a supporter of other blogs, so it’s still relevant. Whenever you read about an issue where there are clearly two (or more) sides to the story, make sure you take the time to research what everyone is saying before you post your own opinion on your blog, in a comment, or on a social networking site. When the debate got really heated between Matt and Chris, one of the posts I saw referenced fairly regularly was on Jane’s blog. While I don’t think that Jane was lying about her experience, I also know that it would be impossible for her to go into the situation unbiased, as she’s a WordPress employee. I also think that this is just one view – I’ve also heard stories from people who say that Chris is a great person to be around, as well as people who have said negative things about Matt. The point is, if that was the first post someone read about the issue and the didn’t take the time to read anything else, they wouldn’t really be getting a grasp on the debate as a whole. Even with all the research I did, you can see in the comments section of my previous post that people added new information about the topic that changed the way I thought about it slightly.

When you read something, even if it is from a blogger you respect and love reading on a daily basis, take a moment to read other opinions on the same topic. You’ll be glad you did.

Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. Every time she writes a post that involves YouTube videos, she ends up lost on that site, watching funny videos for hours.

Is WordPress Bullying Developers?

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PlayPlay

In any industry, large companies have a responsibility to use their influence responsibly. There’s a lot of gray area here, of course, but I do feel like some entities throw around their clout to pressure partners, clients, customers, and so forth into making certain decisions. When a large company is pressuring a “little guy” to do something, sometimes it is easier to just bite the bullet and do it, even if you don’t agree.

With that said, I hope you’ll watch this video from Mixergy:

The fight on Twitter has been nothing less than high school-quality, in my opinion. Both sides are flinging nasty comments and refusing to budge on the issue. There’s no compromising, or even talk of compromising, and it’s gotten to the point where supporters on both sides are bad-mouthing one another without even really understanding the problem.

I feel like it’s Team Edward versus Team Jacob out there.

I was quite disturbed after watching the above video and reading other opinions on the topic, so I did a little independent research. What I’ve found is that this case is fuzzy at best. GPL might be a great license most of the time, but when it comes to this situation, it’s pretty confusing. Personally, I think that WordPress totally believes that how they’re interpreting the law is right…and I also believe that they’re wrong.

When you create a product under GPL, like WordPress, any derivative product is also required to carry the GPL license. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t sell the product, but it does mean that the product can be modified and redistributed by others. If you choose to redistribute a GPL product with your own modifications, you have to do so under a GPL license as well.

You can see where the problem arises between Thesis and WordPress. Thesis is a premium theme (i.e., not free) specifically made for WordPress, but the creator, Chris Pearson, doesn’t want to distribute it under the GPL. If he did so, it would give anyone the right to modify it, even just slightly and sell it as well, or even give it away for free. He says that themes are not derivative works, so should not be subject to GPL laws. WordPress disagrees, saying that theme don’t work without WordPress, so they are derivative works.

Here’s how I see it:

Let’s say WordPress is milk, and milk is available for anyone to use in whatever recipe they want, under a GPL. I create a cookie recipe that uses milk, so my recipe must also be open for anyone to use. Milk is a part of what I’m doing, so the creators of milk state that unless I’m willing to give away my recipe under GPL as well, I’m not allowed to use milk. It makes sense. Even though I put hard work into my cookie recipe, I can’t sell my cookies without giving away the recipe.

Now let’s say that Chris Pearson created a type of cereal. His cereal doesn’t use milk as one of the ingredients, but what’s the use of eating it without milk? You do need milk to eat his cereal, but milk isn’t an ingredient in the same way it is an ingredient of my cookie recipe.

By that thinking, Chris (who is the real-life creator of Thesis) should be allowed to distribute his cereal without giving away his secret recipe for the perfect corn flake or fruit loop or whatever. He did something without using the help of milk – his product just happens to work hand-in-hand with milk.

In my opinion, Chris (switching to real life now) has the right to license his product however he wants. I believe the same of any WordPress theme. If you use pieces of the WordPress code in your product, you should have to redistribute under GPL…but creating a product that works with WordPress isn’t a derivative product necessarily.

With that said, let’s go back to my original question in the title – is WordPress bullying developers?

Yes and no. I don’t think there’s a clear black or white answer here. On one hand, yes. WordPress has been threatening to sue Chris and Thesis, and they have pretty must pressured other developers into redistributing under GPL law. However, I do believe that WordPress legitimately believes they are right. I believe that they believe are well within their rights to demand developers to use a GPL with their products. I think they see this as very black and white, and see Chris as something who is blatantly breaking the law, giving them the middle finger, so to speak. I don’t think he is. I think he has a point, and the WordPress guys are refusing to see it.

It’s a tricky situation. I actually think it would be in the best interest of everyone involved to go to court. In fact, I think that it would be in the best interest of GPL users everywhere if this case went to court so that “derivative works” would be clarified.

I’m sure there are a ton of opinions out there, both for and against WordPress. I’d love to hear ’em, so leave a comment, even if you disagree with me. 🙂

Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. She is not a Twilight fan, despite her reference in this post.

Phone in Your WordPress Blog!

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Now this is a feature I’m not so sure I’d ever use, mostly because I can’t stand the sound of my voice, but you can now enable “Post by Voice” in WordPress and record an audio blog post straight from your phone. By enabling the feature, you will receive a phone number and a unique code for posting audio (up to an hour).

Post by Voice is powered by Twilio, a cloud-based platform for building communication and voice applications. Do you think this is something you’ll use?

Other news and tips across the blogosphere this week (July 2nd):

Copyblogger: The 7 Essential Steps to Creating
Your Content Masterpiece

Here are seven lessons you can learn from Bach, to keep your content marketing from being tossed aside like used chip wrappers.

CNN: Google building a Facebook rival? Let’s hope so
Pete Cashmore chats about Google working on a social service to rival Facebook and his support of the venture.

Hubspot: 5 Types of Blog Content That Encourage People to Link Back to You
Here is a list of five types of content that anyone can produce to help you build links into your blog.

Daily Blog Tips: Top 10 Tips to Sell Your Website or Blog on Flippa
If you want to maximize your chances of selling (and your profit), the 10 tips here will help you.

ProBlogger: How to Create a FaceBook Landing Page for Your Blog
Darren walks you through the steps to create a FaceBook landing page in support of your blog.

Daily Blogging Tips: Want To Write a Guest Post For A Blog? Try to Find How To Submit One First
Make sure you review a blog’s submission guidelines before submitting or emailing!

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Is Your Blog Fast Enough For Google?

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For a long time all of us have been worried about our page rank and how we fair in the eyes of Google.  Yes, I have always said it, “We Live In A Google World.”  Google holds all the search cards, or at least about 60% of it last time I checked, and they make most of the rules we all follow in order to get on page 1. Apparently, as Michael Gray reports, Google wants your site to be fast to get better rank in their eyes.

I always try to see what the latest news is and what the latest tricks are to make sure we don’t cross the line and get in trouble with the almighty Google.  I am trying to put a hint of sarcasm in there, but don’t tell Google they might penalize my site, but I digress. Michael Gray’s blog, something I try to read often and wrote about “How To Speed Up WordPress.” Since we use WordPress as our application of choice here, for the time being, I decided I better check it out.

I try to listen to experts like Michael and follow what he has as advice.  In this particular instance I might not be able to and keep the site with all the bells and whistles we have become accustomed to here.  Things like Tweetmeme and other social metworking buttons and such are things Michael advises we get rid of to help the load speed.

I don’t want to hear about the site problems we already have we are actively trying to remedy that as we speak.  Our load time is really long since are site never truly stops loading.  I guess you could say we are in perpetual load.  Thanks for the post Michael.

How does your site do after testing? Is it fast? Is it Google fast? I am not sure any of us will ever know that secret.

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