Thursday, September 10, 2009

5 Reasons Your Wordpress Blog Sucks

Image representing WordPress as depicted in Cr...
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I'm having a blast leading the Social Media 101 sessions at Social Media Club Phoenix each month. If you're in Phoenix the 2nd Thursday of the month, you should come.

This week I'm giving a brief workshop on making Wordpress-powered blogs better. I take the 101 seriously. This will focus on 5 low-level but often-missed changes that are easy to implement and will improve the blog. The official title for tonight is "5 Simple Things That Make Your Blog Better". But over here, where I have to be less sensitive, that's 5 Reasons Your Wordpress Blog Sucks.

  1. No one knows who the hell you are.
    You spent all that time coming up with a clever blog name. You're writing from a first-person POV. You've filled your post with great and actionable information. I'd love to give you credit, help spread the word or even leave you a comment. Trouble is, I have no idea who the hell you are.

    You need an About page. And it needs to say something about you. Wordpress comes with a page already set up. It's called... you guessed it: About. Edit it. Enter in some stuff. Like who the hell you are.

  2. No one knows how to contact you.
    You've done a great job getting my attention. I see we share common goals, and I'd like to reach out to you to share something, buy something, or just strike up a conversation. It's not quite something I want to leave in a comment, so I need to contact you privately. Trouble is, you haven't even the decency to post an email address. No, your last Tweet won't do. I want a direct, one-on-one method of contacting you.

    The simplest fix: add your contact info to the About page. A better fix: create a new page. Call it Contact. Fill that sucker up with every way possible for people to get a hold of you. Don't be cute. Afraid of spam? Spell out your email, but don't link it.

  3. You have a rotten permalink structure.
    Dipping into a little technology, but don't panic. Suffice to say that "p=123" in a URL doesn't tell me -- or Google -- what your post is about. If you want your posts discoverable, then do the very basic thing of upgrading your permalink structure to use the title of your post as the URL.

    Settings > Permalinks > Month and Name.

    Save and done. Your URLs now look all fancy like. Which Google cares about more than people, though I look at them, too.

  4. You aren't branding your posts "in the wild".
    Not all of your readers go to your site. Shocking, I know. And while still in the early days, RSS readers are becoming more popular. With an RSS reader, I can subscribe to your blog and have the content come to me. And it's only the content of your posts. No branding. Nothing other than what you put in the posts. Unless you do some tweaking.

    First, make sure that Wordpress is associating your name with the post the way you want. Go to Users and edit your user name. Fill out your first and last name, then change the "Display name publicly as" to the one you want. By default, Wordpress associates your user name with all posts. Not all that helpful if you've used "hotrocker1986" since leaving highschool.

    Second, and not for the faint of heart, is editing your themes to get your name up there front and center. I do it, but I'm not afraid of .php. Well, I can't write it. But I know enough people to help me if I screw it up terribly. But adding some static text isn't that hard. Specifically, I edited the following:
    • Main Index Template
    • Single Post

    But hey, I like to live dangerously.

  5. You don't post for the future.
    Ever wonder how hard-core bloggers manage to get a post up just about every day and still hold down a day job, family responsibilities and a grueling travel schedule? Here's their secret: the don't post every day. Nope. They post in batch. They write when and where they can, when the opportunity strikes or the mood takes them. And they rarely write directly in Wordpress. They gather up posts, sometimes a dozen at a time, and then feed them into Wordpress all at once. But they feed them out to you one at a time.

    This magic is called "future posting". It's really nothing more than adding a post, but changing the "publish immediately" option (look for the small calendar on the right side of your screen) to some date in the future. Got five posts? Load all of 'em up and increment the date by one each time. Now you're posting like a rock star.

I hope this is helpful. I hope I can get through it all in half an hour tonight! See you at #SMCPHX!

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