Not all of folks I coach are bloggers. Because I help a lot of folks develop products (and their companies), I can’t always convince them that they should blog. After all, I’m not a blog specialist, I’m a new product development expert. But recently I’ve had three days of dialogue with companies about their WordPress blogs. I love that. And every time we talk about their blogs, I focus on five things that their site should do for them. Here they are.
Whether your blog is a corporate blog or a personal one, make sure there’s an easy way to know who owns the site, who is authoring the posts, and some background about you. After all, you’re developing trust with people and they’ll want to know who you are. It’s why, on my site, you’ll notice the “About Chris Lema” on the right side. Also, at the bottom of each post, you’ll see a box that highlights who the author is. Normally it’s me, but if I have a guest post, it tells you about the author. Some themes come with the “author” box feature (many from WooThemes and StudioPress do), but some don’t. So be sure to check for that.
2.Gather an Audience
Blogging isn’t just about writing posts. Like I said, you’re developing trust with an audience. That trust allows you to communicate and engage them as you deliver additional content, new products, and more. But just because Google Analytics tells you that eye balls are seeing your posts doesn’t mean you have an audience. You need to know their names. That’s why you’ll see the form on the right (in orange), that invites you to join my mailing list. You give me your name and email and I’ll make sure notices, announcements, offers for any new online programs and more all show up in your inbox.
That form just links you up (right now) with Feedburner. But it can also connect to Aweber or MailChimp. Aweber gives you code to place in a text/html widget. MailChimp has a plugin that drops a form in your sidebar. And feedburner gives you a link you can post to. So you can pick any theme you like and still offer this functionality pretty easily.
3.Develop your Network
I’m not a huge social media guy. I know it’s there. I know it works. I know that +1’s and likes will help in Google search results. But I only have so much time to spend on social networking. So I can’t tell you exactly what strategies to use in social media (I have friends who do that work). What I do know, however, is the value of a network. I use mine all the time – from the 900 folks on Facebook (as friends) to the 600 folks in two Facebook groups I belong to, to the 500 folks on LinkedIn that I’ve worked with professionally. I ask for advice. I ask for introductions. I leverage recommendations. And I know one thing about networks that you should know too – a network is easiest to create when you don’t need it. And it’s almost impossible to create quickly when you do urgently need it.
That’s why my linkedIn, and other social media icons are on every page. It’s why it’s also on the about me page. Because I want to connect and stay connected. I want to help out, advise, and answer questions when I can. I even answer questions on LinkedIn and Quora. I’m establishing my expertise, giving back, and connecting with people all at the same time. And it often starts with those little buttons as someone who has read my post decides to follow me (and then I follow them back).
When I write on ChrisLema.com I typically blog about one of three or four topics – and they’re not always linked to each other. I write about effective presentations (leveraging what we now know about the brain). I write about WordPress and how to use it (to do anything). I write about New Product Development and sometimes about start-ups. These are the things that I spend my days on, and so they land here. But not all posts are equally useful or valid. So I monitor traffic to my posts and can direct people to some of my most popular content. That’s the widget you see in the sidebar that shows my top 5 posts. There are multiple plugins that provide this feature. For the longest time, I’ve used this one.
I know there are themes out there that don’t leverage featured images but I will never use them. This site currently uses Canvas from WooThemes and it lets me place a thumbnail (of any size) next to my post excerpts on my blog. I do this because I know that your brain is wired up for visuals more than text. So I want compelling images for each post to invite you to spend some time reading. And if I can add another image or video into my content – even better.
Those are my five…
Those are my five. I’d love to hear what you find critical for your WordPress blog to accomplish and how you’re having it do it for you. I regularly hear about new plugins all the time when I ask the question this way. So let me know below…