August 22, 2014

27 Must Have WordPress Articles, Tools, and Resources

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about Why a Blog Should be Your Marketing Cornerstone. Now that you understand why you need a blog, let’s talk How.

WordPress LogoThe How is WordPress

If you already have a blog set up and it’s not on WordPress, some of these resources will still be helpful. If you are using a different platform, should you change to WordPress? Possibly. If that is you, let me know in comments and we’ll explore it further.

But you want a website, not just a blog?

No worries! The versatility of WordPress allows you to have a traditional blog, a website with a blog, a single “sales page” website, an eCommerce site, a membership site or any combination of the above and more.

To DIY or Not to DIY

You can outsource all off this and I recommend it. But even if you do, you need to have a good overall understanding of what is happening. If you don’t, it will just lead to confusion and misunderstandings. And you’ll lose time and money, to boot.

Now, keep in mind, I’m a bit biased. I am afterall a Virtual Assistant and do WordPress installations and maintenance for many of my clients. So let me say this, as objectively as I possibly can:

With WordPress, you don’t need a webmaster. In fact, having a professional webmaster would be overkill. There is no coding that needs to be done. Or if you do want changes made to the code, this can be done in a one-time project by hiring a freelance WordPress developer.

What I do recommend is that you hire someone like me. (Or me. I’m not trying to promote my services here but hey, if you want to hire me, who am I to say no?) You need someone who is well versed in WordPress and in Internet Marketing. We don’t come cheap but we aren’t as expensive as professional webmasters.

If you enjoy the tech stuff and genuinely want to learn more then check out the resources below and go for it! Honestly, I never saw myself as a techy person but now that I have learned it, I enjoy it. It’s a nice change of pace. And it’s so exciting to see your site come alive. If you decide to give it a try and get stuck or have a question, just post it in the comments or contact me here and I’ll do what I can to help.

My Ultimate Guide to WordPress

Whether you decide to outsource this or do it yourself, here are articles, tools and resources you need to have a well-functioning and well-designed WordPress site.

As I was researching for this article I realized that I could either reinvent the wheel, or I could just list my favorite articles, tools, and resources and give you more complete information. So, here they are…

About WordPress

1. WordPress on Wikipedia

2. WordPress.org

3. Getting Started with WordPress from WordPress.org

WordPress blogGetting Started with WordPress

4. The Must-Have Social Media Tool Every Content Marketer Needs

5. 7 Essential Tips for WordPress Beginners

6. A Comprehensive Guide to Formatting Your WordPress Posts and Pages

7. 12 Must-Do Tasks for the New WordPress Site Owner

8. Are You Making These 7 Mistakes with Your About Page?

9. 9 Articles for Serious WordPress Publishers

Themes

These articles promote StudioPress Themes but even if you use another theme provider, these articles have some good information on how to choose a theme.

10. How Great Web Design Grows Your Audience

11. Four WordPress Themes for Building a Powerful Content Platform

12. How StudioPress Makes Your WordPress Website Work Smarter

13. How to Select the Perfect WordPress Theme for Your Blog

14. How to Find a WordPress Theme that Works

If you choose to use a StudioPress Theme, then check out these videos:

15. 7 Step-by-Step Video Tutorials to Help You Build a Better WordPress Website

Mobile MarketingMobile Marketing

16. The Myth of Mobile Content Marketing

Email Marketing

17. How to Build Your Email Marketing List with a WordPress Website

18. 7 Steps to an Email Opt-in Page That Works

19. Premise 2.0: The Complete Digital Sales and Lead Generation Engine for WordPress

Numbers 18 & 19 are about the Premise Landing Page Plugin, which I highly recommend. It not only guides you to easily set up landing pages, it also helps you with the copywriting if you choose to DIY that, too.

Traffic/Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

20. The Granola-Munching Hippie’s Guide to All-Natural SEO

21. How to Get More Search Engine Traffic -

This article is about the Scribe SEO plugin from Copyblogger media. I highly recommend it, too. They just made some excellent upgrades and I believe it is a must have resource, whether you are an SEO newbie or an experienced SEO copywriter.

Hosting

These articles are about hosting in general and Copyblogger’s Synthesis Hosting in particular. I use it on Our Special Families Village. I highly recommend it, especially if you expect a high volume of traffic or you will have a lot of audio and video content.

22. 5 Big Hosting Mistakes Bloggers Don’t Know They’re Making

23. WordPress Hosting That Means Business

24. Why I Switched Blog Hosting Companies (and Who I’m With Now)

25. If you opt to use Synthesis, here is an excellent guide:

How to Set up a Self-Hosted WordPress Site

26. Hostgator - I use Hostgator on smaller sites and with clients who are just getting started. Their tutorials and tech support are excellent.

graduation imageTraining

27. WP101 is a great site with easy to follow video training. The getting started videos are free. I highly recommend their Lifetime Membership, though. At this time it is only $36.00 and a great way to stay on top of upgrades to WordPress.

My favorite blogs about blogging and content marketing are copyblogger.com and problogger.net. Most of the articles above are from these sites. I recommend you subscribe to their email updates or add them to your favorite RSS Reader.

What did I miss? Have a question or need information that I didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments and I’ll get it for you.

In the interest of full disclosure: Please note that the links for Premise, Scribe, StudioPress, WP101, and Hostgator are affiliate links. I use them all and wouldn’t recommend them if I didn’t believe in them. If you have found this information helpful and choose to purchase any of these tools, I would appreciate it if you would use my affiliate links. For more on Affiliate Marketing, please see my article, All Affiliate Marketers are Liars. For more on the products, services and training I recommend, please see I Recommend…

Update: Make that 28 Must Haves! I just found this excellent article with important security information: Secure Your WordPress Blog Without Touching Any Code

If you have any questions or suggestions, please be sure to share them in the comments.

And don’t forget…

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Please don’t worry – I promise I will never sell, give away, fold, spindle or mutilate your information!

Enjoy!

Sandra

The Blog Comment that Doubled My Business

 

I recently got a phone call from a prospective client who was interested in outsourcing his internet marketing. I asked him how he heard about me and he mentioned a comment I had made on a blog post over a year ago.

While I was thrilled to hear it, I wasn’t surprised. That one blog comment doubled my business in one month and continues to send me leads.

A little background

In the Fall of 2009 Traffic Geyser and VAClassroom teamed up to offer a Traffic Geyser Virtual Assistance Certification program and it looked like something that would be a helpful service and fun to do. So I signed up and received my certification. The next step was of course, to market my new services so being an Internet Marketing and Social Media Specialist I got to work – wrote blog posts, posted to my Facebook page and Tweeted it. And I commented on a few blogs.

And one blog comment changed everything.

Anatomy of the blog comment

So what made that comment so successful?

Let’s start with where I posted it. I went to where my market hangs out – the Traffic Geyser site. I knew there would be people there who were fired up about what this search engine marketing tool could do but I also knew that many of them were busy doing the stuff that needed to be marketed and might need help doing the marketing. They were doing what they do best, now I needed to show them what I do best.

And I didn’t just say something inane like, hey, great post. Here is what I wrote:

Hi Mike,

As a Traffic Geyser Certified Virtual Assistant I really appreciate these resources. It’s great to know what the Traffic Geyser tools can do but this helps my clients and me to leverage them to their fullest.

I look at it this way – Traffic Geyser is like a Ferrari and I’m not leaving in in the garage.

Thanks!

Now let’s break that down a bit:

Hi Mike, – nothing big here, just makes it friendly.

As a Traffic Geyser Certified Virtual Assistant – this was early in the program and not many people realized there were not only VAs who could help but ones certified by TG. I let them know I was a TGVA and started to establish my credibility.

I really appreciate these resources. It’s great to know what the Traffic Geyser tools can do but this helps my clients and me to leverage them to their fullest. – So it’s not just good enough to know the tools, you gotta know how to use them. Most of Traffic Geyser’s customers either don’t have time to learn it’s intricacies or they don’t want to. And I drove home the point that I do know these tools and can use them for others.

I look at it this way – Traffic Geyser is like a Ferrari and I’m not leaving in in the garage. – One client told me that when he read that he got scared. He can drive a Ferrari but how the heck does he maintain it so that it goes as fast as he wants? His solution was to contact me.

Thanks! - again just adding a little personal touch to keep things friendly.

And that opened the door. The door was the link to my site. I let readers know what I could do, why having me do it was a good idea and where to find me.

The Icing on the Cake

The post that I commented on is not behind Traffic Geyser’s membership wall. They use it in their promotions so even people who don’t use Traffic Geyser can find me. And they are people who might need my services.

Enough about me

So what can you do?

  • Find the blogs and forums where your market hangs out.
  • Contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way.
  • Lead interested readers to your site.

It’s not rocket science and it’s a ton of fun. That’s the Good News.

The Bad News?

It’s positively addicting. Keep in mind that these people you are bringing to your website are there to see more. So your website needs to step it up to the next level. That might be signing up to your email list or contacting you for a quote or whatever is appropriate for your site. And if you’re hanging out in forums all day then all that stuff gets neglected. Be sure to leverage your time well by finding quality sites where your market hangs out. Then get in, get it done and get out.

And get down to business.

 

Social Media – Professionally Speaking

In the beginning…

Before Facebook there was MySpace. And then Twitter came along and somewhere in there LinkedIn set up shop. Everyone jumped on the band wagon. Some were just having fun, like my daughter on MySpace and some were focused on getting some serious business done on LinkedIn. Some sites were clearly just for fun and some were purely business. And some were, well – whatever.
There were no guidelines, no manuals, no how to videos and no gurus…

That was then and this is now.

Social Media is evolving at an incredible speed but there are some “best practices” taking shape. For example:
  • Facebook – keep your profile personal, for family and friends only. Monitor your privacy settings carefully. You don’t want your future employer and soon-to-be Mother-in-Law seeing that photo! If you’re Mama Mia and you own the best darn pizza parlor in Modesto California, don’t create a profile that says Mama Mia’s Pizza – create your Mama Mia profile and then set up a page for your restaurant. Yea, I know what you’re thinking – So Mama Mia gets it all figured out and then poof – Facebook changes the rules. That’s life as they say.
  • YouTube – But Mama Mia’s not too fussed if Facebook changes the rules and it takes a while to figure out because she can do a video showing off her prize winning Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Pizza on YouTube. And promote it on other sites too!
  • Twitter – and then she can tweet that for the next 30 minutes you can get ½ off a super-duper party size.

Social Media Gone Bad

By the way – Mama Mia went out for Mexican food for lunch with her girlfriends and her daughter just had an ultrasound and she’s having twins – here check out the ultrasound photos.
And really – do I care?

No – and here’s a photo of my Baby Boy running in his last cross country meet.
You really care, right?
No?
Oh.
Well then dear reader, what do you want? Hmmm…
You want to know if Social Media can really help you sell more Wonderful Widgets? Really?
OK, if you say so.
Turns out that Facebook and Twitter users spend more money online. 4 out of 5 of them get advice on what product to buy and 3 out of 4 of them say that’s helpful stuff.
Yep, it’s a  proven fact that social media is more powerful than traditional advertising. We actually trust our Facebook friends more than we do traditional  advertising. Go figure!
We now have all kinds of studies and stats that show that businesses are having success using social media. And the ones who aren’t successful? Well they are the ones showing you the pictures of their son running in his last track meet (note – no picture here!)

Mixing Business with Pleasure

There are two types of social media – one makes you money and the other one makes you friends (sort of). Now that’s not to say that you don’t want to personalize your business social media. You definitely do. But making it personal is more a tone than the actual content. Let people know you are knowledgeable, trustworthy and helpful – it takes time but become their trusted advisor. This isn’t abut selling. It’s about building relationships and that’s the personal part. Add value, business value, with information on your industry and products – give tips and share announcements.

Here’s How I Do It

With Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn I try to be sort of a news aggregator and share information that I think would be helpful to you, my wonderful reader, but that you might not find on your own. You read the stuff that matters to your business – Central City Widgets. I read the stuff about how to tell the world about your Wonderful Widgets. Then I sift through it for the gold nuggets which I pass on to you. Be helpful and informative – add value but don’t sell. This isn’t the place.
In my articles I try to share the What and the Why but leave the How to the Paying Customers. And I try to make it fun and not so formal. Gone are the days when I had to wear a business suit (complete with pantyhose and pumps) into an office. So I don’t write like I’m wearing them now. This is my blue jeans and flip-flops prose.

More Good Stuff…

The early adopters have figured out how they think we should do this social media thing and for $99.00 bucks and your first born they’ll show you how they made millions overnight on Facebook and Twitter. But mixed in among the scammers and spammers there are some really smart people with some really solid advice. My favorites are Social Media Examiner and Mari Smith.

Your Turn!

Let me know what you think – what trials and tribulations have you had on the Social Media Superhighway?
P.S. You can read more articles in my Need to Know Series here. Thanks, Sandra

Internet Marketing Support – How to Benefit from It

Do you have a website that isn’t getting the traffic you need? There are over 230 million websites online today. That means you have a lot of competition and attracting people to your website takes some Internet marketing support that you probably do not have right now. Many people in the past assumed that making a pretty website that was easy to navigate was all it took to get people to your site. However, when you set up a website, it is not indexed in the search engines, which is what people use to find you. Therefore, you might as well be a small fish in a vast ocean, because finding you will be that difficult.

Having Internet marketing support is bringing someone on board that can help to get your website more visible and therefore increase your traffic. Many people have a virtual Assistant who also works as a marketing person to help increase your site’s overall traffic. They accomplish this by getting some keyword rich content on your website so that these words are indexed in Google and other major search engines. That way if you are selling Brand A Shoes, a person that heads to Google and types in Brand A Shoes, will have a better chance of finding your website.

The key to increasing your business is to have your website visible to as many people searching the Internet for the products you are selling as possible. This is why you need Internet marketing support; it is a way that you can focus strictly on your business while allowing someone else to market it and bring the traffic to you. It doesn’t happen overnight and you need to have someone who really knows his or her way around the Internet and understands SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Once your website is optimized and you have useful, keyword rich content on your site that, then you will begin to see an increase in web traffic, which of course leads to business growth.

Obviously, you want your website to grow and you want your sales to increase, but until you have the proper Internet marketing support, you may never realize these dreams and goals. Think about some of the biggest online retailers, go to any search engine, and search a product you know they carry. More times than not, their site will come up in their first three results of the search page, which is the ideal place you want your website to be, but it takes work and a bit of time for this to happen. The more support you have and the more you can trust someone else to get the traffic to your site, the better traffic you will end up receiving.

Training, Certifications and Associations

INTERNET MARKETING TRAINING

EDUCATION

1979 – 1984 – California State University, Chico

Political Science Major

PROFESSIONAL AND CHARITABLE AFFILIATIONS

Virtual Assistant Forums – Member

VAClassroom – Member

ProBlogger Community – Member

Third Tribe – Member

Blog Mastermind – Member

Membership Mastermind – Member

Toastmasters – Competent Toastmaster, Past Vice-President of Public Relations, Past Vice President of Membership

Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce – Member, Past Ambassador, Past Business Committee Chair

United Way – Campaign Executive and Allocations Committee, 1999/2000 Campaign Chair

Leadership Santa Maria Valley – Graduate Class of 2000, Past Member Board of Directors

Professional Writer's Alliance