Choosing A Theme

In this post we are going to talk about choosing the right WordPress theme for your next project.

Putting up a new site with WordPress requires making several decisions including choosing the perfect WordPress theme to use. Not surprisingly, this can be a challenging task, especially because there are literally thousands of free and paid themes available to choose from.

When it comes to choosing the right WordPress theme to use for your site be prepared because it may require patience, knowledge, and a solid understanding of which features are most important to you to make a final decision. To help narrow down your choices you should start by making a list of key features and designs elements you want to include on your site before looking for available options.

Now let’s go over a few more tips that can help you choose the best

WordPress theme possible:

– Consider the cost

There are many WordPress themes that are available for free. You can readily choose and apply any of those. However, if you want other themes other than those offered for free, you may choose from a set of themes that can be chosen and installed for specific tag prices. Many top-of-the- line themes should be purchased online.

Numerous WordPress users use both paid and free themes, depending on the design and layout of their online sites. If you are ready to spend for your blog, choosing and installing any of available paid themes can be considered as an investment. If you have the technical expertise, you may also opt to design and create your own WordPress theme.

– Prioritize navigation

The best choice for a blog theme is not necessarily the one that looks fantastic. Be warned that many theme designers focus solely on the aesthetics without considering overall usability. Be cautious when choosing overly decorative themes or those that feature excessive graphics because those may possibly slow down your Websiteís upload speed, which in turn may drive readers away.

Always consider ease of navigation when choosing WordPress themes.

Online visitors to your site should find it easier to navigate within and around your blog. To be sure, check out each themeís demo first before choosing and installing the one that fits your blog.

– Check browser compatibility

Many bloggers disregard and neglect browser compatibility when choosing and installing themes for their blogs. Do not fall for the same mistake. Some professional theme designers thoroughly test their designs on every browser available prior to releasing those across the Internet. Unfortunately many others do not even bother to do so.

Specific WordPress themes may look different when opened on various browsers. Those may not look exactly as you intended. To be safe, choose a theme that has been tested extensively for browser compatibility. And do not forget to check it yourself before applying any theme to your WordPress blog.

– Look for AdSense optimized themes

If you intend to generate revenue from your blog, look for and choose Adsense optimized themes. Those include spots that display AdSense advertisements that have been tested to entice readers. Such themes also make it easier to add AdSense codes, which would be most useful if you have limited knowledge about HTML.

Lastly, choose WordPress themes that would allow you to eventually introduce several changes. It is not surprising that many of those will enable you to do so. You may alter overall color schemes, background images, and number of columns even with just a few clicks of the mouse.

The golden rule for getting your site noticed…

When you are constantly creating content for your blog it can become a tiresome and mundane task. 

You have to think of topics everyday and it can get a bit overwhelming at times.  Even when you are talking about your passions, the constant need for content can get a bit boring.

What about having some fun?  Have you ever thought of injecting some controversy into your blog?

The power of controversy can lead to spikes in your traffic.  People feel a need to respond to things that aggravate them.  Even better than that, these people who respond will want to share your blog post to people who will be equally outraged or also feel the need to respond.

How do you inject controversy into your blog though?  First I would suggest not going overboard, outright racist, sexist or homophobic blog posts are indeed controversial, but they can also hurt your personal brand.  There are other polarizing issues that can inject curiosity at less of a cost.  Politics, religion and sports all fall into this category. You can’t play the fence though you have to take one side of the above issues and go for it.

Basically anything people feel strongly about you can exploit.  On my blog my most successful post in terms of views and comments was an album review I did.  I took the opposite stance of most other online reviews and it paid off. People were expressing their outrage in droves.  My website views went up big time. In fact I noticed a 234% increase in my 30 day totals.

Another bonus of using controversy is that you will find people that agree with you.  Regularly, these people might read your blog post and just keep it moving.  Now that they see all these comments attacking you – they may feel the need to stick up for their viewpoint, which happens to be yours.

Controversy isn’t a guaranteed traffic spike, but if you are able to promote your controversial blog posts to the right audience, you are sure to get some interaction.  This interaction won’t always be positive, but it could lead to viral opportunities.  I suggest starting out by sharing some of your own controversial beliefs.  Just be yourself, you surely have some opinions that go against the norm.

That way you can passionately defend them.  If you notice your traffic is at a plateau, break out some controversy and see what it can do for you.

How to create the perfect Home Business Blog…

About a year ago a friend of mine started his own home based business.  I can’t go into the details (upon his request), but he essentially took his favorite hobby and wanted to make some extra cash.

He is not a very technical guy so he asked me about a website.  I told him he should blog and he replied with laughter.  I took the time to break down how easy it would be using a platform like WordPress.  That intrigued him.  

When I broke down how WordPress would let him have a blog and a traditional site wrapped in one – he was almost sold. I eventually convinced him by offering to do the initial set up.  The next day I easily set up his blog and it was up to him to provide content.  Provide content, he did!  He was a voracious blogger. He actually posted twice a day.  

He posted once in each of his categories: starting a home business and another category related to to his product.

It didn’t take long for him to call me.  Just about 2 weeks later he was excitedly telling me about a guy that contacted him wondering about a custom project.  I would classify the blog as a success at that point. 

Over the next year we documented the advantages the home based business blog had meant for his business.  

Here is a list of 6 real life tangible benefits of the blog:

1 – He sold the custom project mentioned above

2 – A local newspaper got word of his blog on twitter and did a story on him

3 – A related industry quarterly asked him to contribute – getting his name out to thousands of potential customers

4 – He met 2 local (relatively speaking) tradesman who were in his field and offered him great advice and opportunities for collaboration

5 – He ranked on Google for a number of long tail keywords that eventually meant he was getting substantial traffic to his site that even led to some sales

6 – The home business category was great for motivation – it kept all of his triumphs and mistakes in a neatly ordered online diary that allowed him to reflect. It also helped him make sure he didn’t make a mistake twice.

A home based business is the perfect match with a blog.  As you can see above, it is a great networking tool that you can be used for personal motivation as well.  If you want to give your home based business a jolt, harness the power of the internet and blogging.

Here’s why your children should be blogging…

If you have children you probably encourage them to be the best they can be.  You want them to learn and grow and be happy.  Helping your child create their very own blog could be a great learning experience.  Your child will develop their writing and social skills with a blog.  If you are wary of allowing your child to blog, here are some great reasons that might change your mind…

1. Develop Their Writing Skills

Some children don’t like to read and write.  This might change if you help them set up their own blog.  Kids seem to gravitate towards technology at an early age these days.  If they don’t find traditional writing enjoyable, the added touch of technology inherent in a blog might excite them.  You can help them develop their writing skills by encouraging them to post regularly to their blog.

2. Develop Technological Skills

The world we live in is becoming more and more technological everyday.  Many parents feel overwhelmed themselves. You do not want your child failing behind.  Having them regularly using a blog will introduce them to the internet, computers, typing and email.  All of these skills are pretty much essential, especially for the next generation.  There are a lot of pitfalls and dangers incorporated with these technologies so teaching your child how to avoid these early will be tremendously helpful.

3. Develop Social Skills

Having a blog will allow your child to get more comfortable expressing his/her feelings.  Responding to comments can also help them develop their social skills.  Some kids are shy and might be able to express themselves more fully online.  Eventually those skills can translate to the real world.

These three reasons alone should be good enough for any parent who has thought about allowing their children to blog.  You need to help them navigate the internet pitfalls, but it will all be a learning experience.  Make sure you monitor your children’s online activities and blog. You also need to talk to your child and explain the dangers.  Once you have done that, and considering the vast benefits, I think your child having a blog is a wonderful idea.

I have strongly urged parents to allow their children to blog. I believe it can help develop their technological, social and writing skills.  In a world that is becoming smaller everyday due to technology like the internet, it is important our children have a strong basis in it.  That said, you have to be careful because blogging by children can be dangerous.  Follow these four tips and you will make blogging a safe and fun activity for your children.

Make Rules: You need to sit down with your child and set up some rules.  Whatever rules you decide on you should explain them clearly to your child and explain why they are important.  Set some consequences as well, let them know what will happen if they break any of the rules.  You don’t want to be lackadaisical when it comes to online rules.  Stay firm and your children will understand.

Strong Passwords:  Make sure that your children’s accounts are all protected by good passwords. “12345” is not a good password.  You should use number, letters and symbols.  It might be impossible for them to remember, but if it means you have to log on for them – even better.

Screen The Content: Encourage your child to create their blog posts on the computer before they go live.  This way you can check them out and ensure they don’t give away any sensitive information, or have any objectionable content.  Another bonus with this method is you can help your child get used to word processing software.  You can also teach them about grammar and spelling with this method.

Monitor Blog: Check your child’s blog everyday and make sure they haven’t snuck any objectionable content on to it.  Also make sure no one has been leaving weird comments.  Even some spam comments can have dangerous links so make sure you have access to delete these.  Install Akismet if you use WordPress and most of them should be caught.  Also check out any links your child puts up, who knows where they could be linking to.

If you follow these four tips you will ensure that your child’s blog will be a great learning experience and not a potential danger.  Commit to strong passwords, screening and monitoring and your child can benefit from blog ownership!

Do you have a family blog?

If you are looking for a unique and easy way to interact with your extended family then WordPress is the ultimate solution.  

Creating an online family newsletter is a great way to keep your relatives up to date on your life.  

If you are considering doing a family newsletter, check out four reasons why WordPress is the perfect platform…

1. Price

WordPress is free, you can even use their WordPress.com service to host your site for free.  You also don’t have to pay any money to design your family website.  WordPress has thousands of free themes that will change the whole design of your site with the click of a button.

2. Dynamic Nature

WordPress is the ultimate tool to post dynamic content.  What that means is it is made for publishing time sensitive content that is continually being updated.  Out of the box with no settings tweaked WordPress will naturally publish your content by date, with the freshest news displayed.

3. Easy Picture Galleries

WordPress makes it so simple to upload a picture.  You just click one button and you can add a picture to your latest news posts.  Take it one step further though and upload a number of pictures.  WordPress has a built in gallery feature that will allow you to share all your Christmas pictures in one post.  They will appear in a nice grid formation as thumbnails that expand when clicked.

4. Add Authors

You can easily add other authors to your WordPress powered site.  Why is this important? Well imagine you and your family live in NY, but your brother and his family live in LA.  You can add your brother as an author and he will be able to add his own family updates and pictures.  You can add as many family members as you want as well.  WordPress will also show which author wrote what, so you won’t get confused on updates.

These four reasons alone should be enough to show you that WordPress is the best way to deal with family updates and/or newsletters.  

The ability to add content constantly, have it organized and include picture galleries means that your family newsletter will never be looked at as boring again.

Lie, cheat & steal to a better blog…

Yes you read the title right – if you have been blogging with no results, then it is time to turn to the dark side.

No more Mr. Nice Guy blogging for you.

You have tried your best at being honest – now it is time to embrace the darkness.  You need traffic?  Then you need to lie, cheat and steal your way to blogging supremacy. Let me guide you down this dire path. If your pure and innocent mind is telling you to stop reading, you might want to continue just to see what I mean.

1. Lie!

It is time to forget the ten commandments, lying can help you devise some catchy blog posts that will get talked about.  I have to admit that my idea of lying might not be as evil as you were expecting.  I am actually talking about satire.  You can use satire to craft funny posts that people may feel more inclined to spread.  This might be hard to explain so I will give you an example.  I pretended to get a sneak peak at some upcoming software.  I picked a software release that won’t be happening for years and I gave ten “secret” facts about it.  Of course I was “lying”, I just made up new comedic features that were so over the top no one could take it seriously.  It ended up getting some twitter love and was one of my more successful posts.  The creator of the software even retweeted it and thanked me for giving him a good laugh.

2. Cheat!

We covered lies, so now lets move on to cheating. What evil ideas will I come up with here?  Well once again, it is a little ,vanilla.  I think for us bloggers consistency is key.  If you release posts everyday you will get Google love and more traffic. Sometime this is impossible though.  I have had days so busy I can’t possibly get a blog post out.  That said, my RSS subscribers still got a notification in their email about a new post…because I cheated!

WordPress and most other blog platforms allow you to schedule posts.  When you are “feeling it” and ready to crank out content — crank out as much as possible and then like the infomercial says: “set it and forget it!”. You can even keep a couple blog posts in a text file so you just have to copy and paste on your busy days

3. Steal!

Alright this is clear cut, I obviously meant you should go to someone else’s blog and steal their content.  This is simple!  It is also plagiarism and I’m joking, I do not support that. 

What you can steal are ideas!  Browse your favorite blogs and get inspiration from them.  You can easily and honestly get a topic or general themes from them.  You can also go one step further and use a part of their post in your post.  You can review their blog, you could review a video they made or you can take a single quote from their blog post (with attribution of course) and discuss your feelings about it.  Stealing is usually frowned upon but I think in this case blog owners will be happy to receive exposure from your site.

We grew up learning not to lie, cheat or steal.  I think the majority of people would agree they are wrong but even the most prudent person would agree my methods are pretty tame.  If you are in a rut then don’t forget; you can lie, cheat and steal your way to creating constant content!  This should give your blog a much needed boost, and hey sometimes it feels good to be bad.

Five blogging mistakes to avoid…

If you are a blogger and you want to do the best you can then this article will help you avoid five costly mistakes.  No one is perfect but everyone should be able to cut down on the mistakes below.  These are not accidents, they are willful transgressions that will hurt your bottom line. 

Clean up these mistakes and you will already be far ahead of the pack.

1. Not proof reading.

A simple mistake but it can definitely make you look bad.  Spellchecking is great, but you can’t rely on just that.  You have to read your blog post 2 or 3 times to make sure you catch all your grammar mistakes. It might not seem like a big deal but here is one example of a mistake I have made.  I wanted to write “now four styles to choose from” and I wrote “no four styles to choose from.”  Spell check didn’t catch anything, but that one sentence means a big difference to the reader.  If you want to take it to the next level, get someone else to proof read your blog post.  They will catch things you miss every time.

2. Plagiarism/Spun Content/PLR.

Alright if you have an adsense bait autoblog, ignore this mistake.  Put up whatever crap you want.  However, if you care about your personal brand and your blog, then at all costs avoid this type of content.  Creating content can be a pain in the butt, but stealing someone else’s’ can hurt you dearly in the end.  If you get caught (and you will) you lose all credibility instantly.  The same thing goes for PLR content or articles you have spun.  If you want to use these elsewhere to build backlinks OK, but keep them off your personal blog.  It just looks tacky and people will notice.

3. Not being consistent.

This might be the biggest mistake.  If you are committing to running a blog then it is a commitment.  Treat it as such.  Don’t fire out 5 articles your first week then sit back and relax.  You have to constantly create content in order to engage your visitors.  Fresh content is also good in the eyes of Google. We don’t want to make the Google Gods angry do we?

4. Not marketing.

I was guilty of this mistake.  When I first started blogging I hid it from people!  What the heck is the point of that?  I posted away and hoped people came, but never worked at marketing it.  I didn’t start to see success until I sent it out to my Facebook and Twitter lists.  I began using Digg and Stumbleupon.  I talked about it at social gatherings.  I even got some business cards made up that had nothing but the URL of my blog.  It began to work and I finally got to see some significant traffic.  You can post all you want, but what use is it if no one sees it?

5. Not responding to comments.

If you are lucky enough to get comments on your blog posts, then you should reply.  For one it is the polite thing to do.  Secondly it will engage web visitors and make them more likely to come back.  Also people who haven’t commented will be more likely to comment if they see people getting responses.  A blog full of active commenters is the start of a potential money making machine! 

Cut out these five mistakes and you will definitely notice a traffic increase to your blog.  You will also notice you have more interaction with your visitors and in the long run it will offer you more chances to monetize your site. 

If you have to only choose a couple from the list above, please post consistently and market yourself. Curing these two mistakes alone, will mean great things for your site.

The Joy Of Blogging….

I would never claim that blogging could cure depression.  Depression is a serious issue and should be dealt with by a doctor.  

That said, are there any therapeutic benefits to blogging?  I think there are. If you have been feeling down or overwhelmed then starting a blog might be just the thing to let you channel your frustrations.  

A blog allows you to release your emotions, interact with other people and it can be a consistent and stable factor in a hectic world. 

I believe the following three benefits are proof that a blog can be therapeutic.

1. Release of Emotions

Everyone says you shouldn’t bottle up your feelings.  Some people have no problem releasing their emotions while other people have a tough time talking about their issues.  A blog allows someone to release all of their emotions through their daily posts.  You can get a lot off your chest in a blog post.  Most importantly for some people, you can do this anonymously. This is a big plus for some people.  If you are suffering from some negative thoughts, or anger then it might be easier for you to express that knowing you are anonymous. A blog offers people the perfect forum to share their thoughts and release any pent up emotions that might be harmful for them to keep inside.

2. Social Interaction

Of course nothing beats getting out and meeting people, we all know this.  The problem is that not everyone is a social butterfly.  They might naturally be shy people who would rather stay in, or they might have an issue that makes face to face social interaction stressful.  Blogging and micro-blogging allow people to interact with other people online.  It doesn’t beat the real thing but it is a start.  Interaction can come from people contacting you based on your story or from comments to your blog.  One of the great things is when you share a personal story and you get a comment from someone going through similar things. A blog allows anyone to interact with other  people, and is a great tool when trying to reach people with similar interests or problems.

3. Consistency and Stability

This might be an overlooked value when it comes to blogs, but I think it is important.  Some people live in a chaotic world that helps keep them feeling the way they do.  A blog offers some consistency and stability.  The blog is always there, stays pretty much the same and just waits for you to post.  There are no demands or pressure.  You have a blog that is always there and ready for you.  It is also great to have that routine for people.  A blog could be something that people look forward too each day.  Outside of technical difficulties, it isn’t likely to let a person down.

I am not a doctor and I would never claim that a blog is a cure for any level of depression.  That said I am a blogger, and I do have some insight into that world.  I think I can safely say that blogs do have some therapeutic properties.  

If you are looking for stability, social interaction or a way to release your pent up feelings, then try out blogging.  It doesn’t cure problems, but it might help you cope.