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The Lasting Benefits of Blogging

By Cory Miller · October 4, 2008 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

I’ve been reading Chris Anderson’s excellent book The Long Tail. (Yes, I know, I’m arriving late to this party!)

There are so many implications to what I’m doing online with The Long Tail.

But the immediate one that occurred to me was the Long Tail of Blogging.

Here’s my personal experience with this …

On my main blog, I have written more than 600 posts to date. Only half of those posts were written with search engine traffic in mind. (I learned from trial and error.)

After one year of blogging, those 600 posts, along with WordPress and some of these essential blog tweaks, I now get 60% of my traffic from Google alone.

The bulk of that 60% traffic is going to older posts, single posts — those on the Long Tail of my blogging trail.

Although some of those posts account for maybe one unique visitor a day at best … but group them together and it eventually will add up to some really great traffic and momentum.

And here’s the kicker … I wrote those posts once … and I’m still reaping the Long Tail benefits of them months later.

Moral of the story: Post good, broad content in your topic niche consistently, with search engine traffic in mind (i.e. writing titles with phrases that people are searching for) … and ride your own little wave.

I sure do love the Long Tail …

3 Ways Writers Can Improve Their Websites

By Cory Miller · October 4, 2008 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

Recently, I’ve come upon a couple of writer/author websites that contain excellent content, but lack an effective design that could help take their websites and books to the next level.

And I think blogs, in particular, those run by WordPress, are easy, affordable tools for marketing your book and writing skills and niche to a worldwide audience.

Here are some ideas for designing a better author/writer website:

1. FOCUS ON THE BOOK.

Obviously, all book authors want to sell books. But what I’m talking about here is showcasing the book and its contents in ways that actually SELL the book.

As an author, your book should be an integral part of the design, not an afterthought.

You should also include downloadable and easy-to-print resources related to your book, such as a table of contents, excerpts or sample chapters and a question and answer session for the press and your readers.

2. PUSH PEOPLE TO AN EMAIL NEWSLETTER.

Email newsletters are integral parts of my blogging strategy. I push all my clients to start email newsletters for a number of reasons.

Email newsletter are beneficial to authors and bloggers because::

They make your website or blog sticky. Blog stats only tell you where your readers are from. With an email newsletter, you can know their name or any other information you request.

They boost return traffic to your website. I call this residual traffic. There is still a major portion of the blog-reading world that doesn’t know how to operate that big, orange feed button. They don’t know how to use a feedreader. But most do know how to subscribe to an email newsletter. Building a good email newsletter database and then sending them a regular, value-packed email newsletter, listing some of the best content you’ve added recently is a great way to get them to come back to your site.

Publishers must love them. I’m not a book author, but I have to believe that pitching your first or even second book to a publisher and being able to tell them you have 2,000 people subscribed to your email newsletter (which you control) is going to help sell your book proposal. It shows you’ve done work to build a platform in which to sell your book.

3. SHOWCASE YOUR QUALITY CONTENT.When I first started this website back in 1999, I had to do all the heavy lifting of updating my site as I added new content. But with blog software, it instantly took all this and put it all at the click of a “Publish” button so that I could concentrate on writing, instead of maintenance.

You don’t even have to call it a “blog” … just use the free technology to produce an “articles” section of your site. And with WordPress Pages you can use it as a content management system to manage your entire website.

Using blog software, you have an easy way to archive, search, tag your great content and keep readers coming back for more … or help sell your book.

Career Blogging 101

By Cory Miller · October 1, 2008 · Filed in Blogging · No Comments »

This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress. This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.

5 Thoughts on Blogging Your Own Book

By Cory Miller · October 1, 2008 · Filed in Tips · No Comments »

LifeHacker’s editor Gina Trapani has some great advice about blogging a book … that is equally as sharp for writing and maintaining a blog that people actually want to read.

Blogs are perfect for helping you write the book you’ve always wanted to write … but just haven’t.

Here are 5 ways I think blogging your book rocks:

1. You know someone is reading it (even if it’s your mom). Still, it helps knowing someone at least might be reading it for motivation’s sake.

2. Eat the elephant one bite at a time. This is the mantra that got me through my final year of my bachelor’s degree and I’ve savored its wisdom for a lot of things. The same principle applies for blogging your book. Thinking about one big massive project overwhelms me. But chipping away at that thing one post at a time … well, that helps put it all in perspective.

3. Build a readership for your book. If you want to write a book and aren’t building your email newsletter list to announce the book, I think you’re missing a great opportunity. Think about it … you pitch your book idea to a publisher and tell them you’ve got 1,000 built-in potential readers of your book on your email newsletter!

4. It helps get you found in the search engines. Once your book is actually in print and you begin to sell it on your website, you’ll want people to find you (through your topic’s keywords aka buzzwords) in Google and Yahoo! A blog is a great way to start talking with them about it! :-)

5. Once it’s finished, you can sell it online. The web is a great place to sell your book (or ebook). If you’re blogging your blog and getting content up regularly, you’ll have a great platform to peddle your pulp.

How Real Estate Agents Can Use Blogs

By Cory Miller · October 1, 2008 · Filed in Business · No Comments »

Check out Kristal Kraft’s Denver real estate and relocation blog here.

She’s also got a really effective website as well called Kristal Sells Denver.

This is an exceptional example of using blogs to market yourself and your services. She’s got relocation information scattered about her blog, pictures of Denver events, links to other Denver bloggers, and a beautiful photo header of the Denver skyline.

The biggest thing I’d suggest doing differently though … and worth mentioning … is hosting her blog on her domain name, versus the hosted blog solution.

The reason for this is that by hosting on your own domain, you invest in the value of your own domain versus anothers.

For instance, she’s bound to be getting inbound links (links from other people) to her blog.
Links, in the search engine world, are like votes. They help you rise to the top of search engine rankings. Right now, links to her blog aren’t helping her awesome website.

So if you’re spending time and energy on writing a blog in the first place … be sure you’re pouring your efforts into your domain name. It’ll benefit you and your company in the long-term!

If you’re a real estate agent … you should be blogging about your business!

Looking at Kristal’s example, you could be:

  • Blogging about relocation information and giving useful links
  • Blogging about how neat it is to live in your city and “the burbs”
  • Posting photos of events using Flickr & the beauty of your city
  • Showcasing your expertise and teaching others about real estate and your market
  • Ranking higher in the search engines for your city’s relocation information
  • Getting inbound links from your city’s other bloggers
  • One of the first people those who are relocating to your city meet (you’re a real face, a real person that they know - virtually - in your city)

What You Get With This Theme

By Cory Miller · October 1, 2008 · Filed in Theme · No Comments »

Our designer, James Dalman, saw a need for sports teams, like his son’s football team, to have a quick, easy and affordable way to get a team website up … and today, we’re unveiling that vision in iTeam: a Premium Sports WordPress Theme.

With iTeam, your sports team can get a website up and starting informing your fans, parents and others of what you’re team is doing!

Based on input for what we saw sports teams wanting to put on their websites, we’ve included the following features into the theme:

  • Post your game videos – Use YouTube or Vimeo and embed those videos straight from the iTeam Dashboard options
  • Post your team photos — There are two great ways to do that … first, the main home page feature image can display random images of your choosing … and second, we’ve got a Flickr photo gallery embedded too
  • Post Live Games Updates – Using Twitter.com and iTeam, you can easily post live game updates to your team’s website

Check out iTeam demo site here and purchase details here

Sample Test Post

By Cory Miller · October 1, 2008 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.

This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.

  • This is a list item in an unordered list
  • Nam nibh dolor, feugiat id, tempor sit amet, porta in, dui. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Curabitur sit amet mauris. Mauris rutrum laoreet tortor. Nunc orci nulla, viverra mattis, blandit vitae
  • dolor non adipiscing rutrum, tortor sem fringilla dolor, vel bibendum sem magna nec velit. Praesent cursus lectus at ante. Integer imperdiet gravida turpis. In vel dui non arcu interdum lobortis. Praesent arcu. Proin blandit consequat libero
  • This is a short list item
  • In vel dui non arcu interdum lobortis. Praesent arcu. Proin blandit consequat libero. Suspendisse sagittis urna nec enim. Nunc suscipit dui luctus tortor. Duis vulputate porttitor pede.

This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.

H2 Heading Text

H3 Heading Text

H4 Heading Text

H5 Heading Text
  1. This is a list item in an ordered list
  2. Nam nibh dolor, feugiat id, tempor sit amet, porta in, dui. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Curabitur sit amet mauris. Mauris rutrum laoreet tortor. Nunc orci nulla, viverra mattis, blandit vitae
  3. dolor non adipiscing rutrum, tortor sem fringilla dolor, vel bibendum sem magna nec velit. Praesent cursus lectus at ante. Integer imperdiet gravida turpis. In vel dui non arcu interdum lobortis. Praesent arcu. Proin blandit consequat libero
  4. This is a short list item
  5. In vel dui non arcu interdum lobortis. Praesent arcu. Proin blandit consequat libero. Suspendisse sagittis urna nec enim. Nunc suscipit dui luctus tortor. Duis vulputate porttitor pede.

This is an example of a blockquote. You could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.

Make a List, Check It Twice

By Cory Miller · October 1, 2008 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

This is how lists look with bSocial! What HTML tags would you like to see?

Let’s start with an unordered list:

  • One
  • Two
  • Three
  • Four

And then move on to a more interesting ordered list:

  1. one, two
    1. buckle my shoe
  2. three, four
    1. knock at the door
  3. Five, six
    1. pick up sticks
  4. Seven, eight, lay them straight
    1. Nine, ten, a big fat hen
    2. Eleven, twelve, dig and delve
    3. Thirteen, fourteen, maids a’courting
    4. Fifteen, sixteen, maids in the kitchen
    5. Seventeen, eighteen, maids a’waiting
    6. Nineteen, twenty, my platter’s empty …

Why Everything in Your Sidebar Disappears

By Cory Miller · September 10, 2008 · Filed in Feature · No Comments »

Here is a scenario: You installed a brand-new, shiny copy of your iThemes premium theme and want to get your widgets installed in the sidebar(s). As soon as you add a widget in a sidebar to, say add a text widget above the existing built-in widgets, all of the widgets disappear except the new text widget you added.

Why Did it Do That?

Sidebar codeWhat happened is a simple result of the code doing what it is told to do, which is to either show the built-in widgets (all of them) or show the widgets selected on the Widget screen under the Design tab.

I am going to get a tad technical here for those who are interested. If that is not you, then feel free to skip to the next section for what to do regardless of why things happen.

Looking at the code to the right, locate the “dynamic_sidebar” code. That is what you will find in every “widget-ready” theme because it calls out the function.php code included in the theme, which can include 1, 2, 3, or any number of widgeted sidebars or areas in the theme. This particular code is affecting a sidebar named Post Sidebar, which is created in the function.php file and filled with widgets by going to Design->Widgets and selecting the Post Sidebar area from the pulldown on the right side under Current Widgets.

The way to read this code in plain English is, “If the function.php file includes a sidebar called ‘Post Sidebar,’ then ignore all the code until the ‘end if’ statement IF there are widgets selected on the Design->Widgets page.” If there are no widgets manually selected in editing page, then the code below rules and appears. If only one widget is added, then it, and only it, will appear in the sidebar due to the nature of the If/Then statement.

How to Fix It

Widgets in placeWidget tabNavigate to the Design tab and click ‘Widgets.’ On the left side of the page, every widget included with WordPress and added by widget plugins that you have added is listed with and ‘Add’ button to add that widget to the sidebar selected in the pulldown on the right side of the page. Many widgets come straight out of the box fully functioning with no customizing options. Others allow you to edit items, such as the widget title, after you Add it and make the changes to it over on the right side. The Text widgets are able to be added numerous times to multiple sidebars to allow multiple text widgets throughout a site.

To review one property of widgets quickly for those who skipped the previous section, when you select a widget, all of the pre-coded widgets in the theme’s sidebar you changed will disappear. If you want to keep the ones already present and add more widgets, then you must include those already present to still see them.

Click the Edit button on any widget that you want to or need to change or add information to, such as a Feedburner ID or RSS feed address and click Save Changes to set that sidebar’s settings. From there, you can move on to other sidebars or leave them set as default, unaffected by this sidebar’s settings.

New iThemes Premium WordPress Theme Club

By Cory Miller · September 10, 2008 · Filed in Feature · No Comments »

Here’s some big news for our customers!

We’ve recently taken our All-in-One Developer’s Package and turned it into a value-packed Theme Club.

  • 16 Themes for One Low Price, Plus NEW iThemes Created in 2008 – Save over $900 by buying this special package
  • Multiple-Use Licenses – Compare this benefit to other theme clubs and you can easily see the value! Use the themes on as many personal and clients sites as you want, as long as you do not resell them
  • Lifetime Theme Updates – Get series updates on each theme series included as long as the theme is offered
  • Themes to Meet Almost Every Need – With our diverse offering of themes, almost any type of business can find a theme they need. Plus, you get all the themes you need to start your freelance business off right
  • Active Support – Get the help you need to customize your themes in our active support forums

Check out the 2008 Theme Club purchase details here
Upgrade Details: For Previous Customers
Here’s an even better deal for customers of previous themes … You can upgrade to the 2008 Theme Club for the price difference in your original purchases. To upgrade, contact iThemes with your original receipt or Paypal email address today!

Check out the 2008 Theme Club purchase details here