WordPress for Business Bloggers
WordPress for Business Bloggers provides advanced strategies and techniques to take
your WordPress business blog from average to extraordinary. Whether you already have
a blog, or are still in the planning stages, this book will show you how to use WordPress
to create a highly successful blog for your business.
The release of version 2.6 has confirmed the status of WordPress as the leading blogging
platform. This book has been written for and tested on WordPress 2.6, so all the
screenshots and tutorials are accurate for users of that version of the software.
This is a practical, hands-on book based around a fictitious case-study blog, which you
will build using a development server on your own computer. The vast majority of
tutorials and examples will be applied to the case study blog. The case study grows
chapter by chapter, from installing your local development server, right up to the finished
blog. You will be installing and configuring a selection of WordPress plugins to improve
the functionality of the case-study blog.
You are provided with clear instructions and detailed screenshots, so you can see exactly
what to do at each step of the build. When you have completed the case study, you will
have the knowledge and confidence to apply all the techniques you have learned to your
own WordPress business blog.
The author assumes you have basic experience with WordPress, already know how to set
up a self-hosted WordPress blog, and are familiar with the basics: creating posts and
pages, configuring blog settings, and so on. By the time you have finished the book you
will have moved forward from WordPress novice to an advanced user of the software in a
What This Book Covers
In Chapter 1 you will examine many different types of business blogs. You will be
shown a selection of great business blogs and see what you can learn from them.
In Chapter 2 you will be introduced to the case study blog, and taken through the process
of developing strategic goals and your blog plan. You will learn that the planning process
is important, even if your blog is already up and running.
In Chapter 3 you will learn the basics of blog design. You will work through a brief
introduction to HTML and CSS, and see how easy it is to create your own custom design
using the Sandbox theme.
In Chapter 4 you will learn some advanced image and video handling techniques,
including setting up an image gallery and using video from third-party sources, such as
YouTube and Google Video.
Chapter 5 focuses on different techniques and methods required for creating the best
possible content for your business blog.
Chapter 6 covers some of the most important SEO strategies and how to apply them, as
well as how to submit your blog to the search engines.
In Chapter 7 you will learn some advanced blog promotion techniques, including:
advanced RSS with FeedBurner; using Internet Explorer 8 Web Slices; submitting to the
blog search engines, like Technorati; using social networks, such as Facebook and
Twitter; and using social bookmarks, such as Digg and del.icio.us.
In Chapter 8 you will learn the importance of connecting with other bloggers and playing
an active role in the blogosphere to promote your business blog.
In Chapter 9 you will learn how to analyze your blog’s performance using tools such as
Google Analytics and WordPress.com Stats.
In Chapter 10 you will be introduced to a variety of strategies to help you generate
revenue from your blog, like using advertising and affiliate programs.
In Chapter 11 you will learn how to manage the growth of your blog by optimizing it for
high traffic and introducing multiple authors by using WordPress MU.
Content Is King
The title may seem like rather an old cliché now, but it still rings true—content is
king. In this chapter, we will look at issues surrounding content creation, and discuss
some techniques and methods to help you produce the best content you can. We’ve
already looked at visual content, in the form of images and videos, but still for many
web users, blogging is all about text—that’s what we’ll be focusing on here.
We will begin with some general writing tips for bloggers. Although you may be
familiar with some of these already, it’s as well to re-focus your attention on them
and ensure that you are applying them as part of your blogging routine. We then
look at ways of organizing your content in a user-friendly way by using categories
and tags. We will examine the apparently subtle differences between the two and
ensure that you’re using them correctly. We move on to apply categories and tags to
the ChilliGuru case study.
Next, we will look at one of the most important pieces of ‘static’ content on your
blog—the ‘About’ page. It’s vital to get this right as it is so often the first port of call
for new visitors to your blog. We will add an ‘About’ page to ChilliGuru. Finally, we
underline the importance of protecting your precious content by carrying out regular
backups. You will learn how to back up both your WordPress site files and the
all-important MySQL database, which drives your blog.
Blog Writing Tips
The first thing to look at regarding content is the quality of your writing itself. Good
writing takes practice. The best way to learn is to study the work of other good
writers and bloggers, and by doing so, develop an ear for a good sentence. However,
there are guidelines to bear in mind that apply specifically to blogs, and we’ll look at
some of these here.
Ask any newspaper sub-editor and he or she will tell you that writing good
headlines is an art to be mastered. This is equally true for blogs. Your headlines are
the post titles and it’s very important to get them right.
Your headlines should be concise and to the point. You should try to convey the
essence of the post in its title. Remember that blogs are often consumed quickly, and
readers will use your post titles to decide if they want to carry on reading. People
tend to scan through blogs, so the titles play a big part in helping them pick which
posts they might be interested in.
Your post titles also have a part to play in search engine optimization (SEO will be
covered in detail in the next chapter). Many search engines will use them to index
As more and more people are using RSS feeds to subscribe to blogs it becomes even
more important to make your post titles as descriptive and informative as possible.
Many RSS readers and aggregators only display the post title, so it’s essential that
you convey as much information as possible whilst keeping it short and snappy. For
example, The World’s Best Salsa Recipe is a better post title than, A new recipe.
Length of Posts
Try to keep your posts manageable in terms of their word count. It’s difficult to be
prescriptive about post lengths. There’s no one size fits all rule in blogging. You need
to gauge the length of your posts based on your subject matter and target audience.
There may be an element of experimentation to see how posts of different lengths
are received by your readership. As with headlines, bear in mind that most people
tend to read blogs fairly quickly and they may be put off by an overly long post.
WordPress 2.6 includes a useful word count feature:
An important factor in controlling the length of your posts is your writing skills.
You will find that as you improve as a writer, you will be able to get your points
across using fewer words. Good writing is all about making your point as quickly
and concisely as possible. Inexperienced writers often feel the urge to embellish their
sentences and use long, complicated phrases. This is usually unnecessary and when
you read back that long sentence, you might see a few words that can be cut.
Editing your posts is an important process. At the very least you should always
proofread them before clicking the Publish button. Better still; try to get into the
habit of actively editing everything you write. If you know someone who is willing
to act as an editor for you, that’s great. It’s always useful to get some feedback on
If, after re-reading and editing your post, it still seems very long, it might be an idea to split the post in two and publish the second installment a few days later.
Again, there are no rules set in stone about how frequently you should post. You
will probably know from your own experience of other blogs that this varies
tremendously from blogger to blogger. Some bloggers post several times a day and
others just once a week or less.
Figuring out the correct frequency of your posts is likely to take some trial and error.
It will depend on your subject matter and how much you have to say about it. The
length of your posts may also have a bearing on this. If you like to write short posts
that make just one main point, you may find yourself posting quite regularly. Or,
your may prefer to save up your thoughts and get them down in one longer post.
As a general rule of thumb, try to post at least once per week. Any less than this
and there is a danger your readers will lose interest in your blog. However, it’s
extremely important not to post just for the sake of it. This is likely to annoy readers
and they may very well delete your feed from their news reader. As with many
issues in blogging, post frequency is a personal thing. You should aim to strike a
balance between posting once in a blue moon and subjecting your readers to
Almost as important as getting the post frequency right is fine-tuning the timing of
your posts, that is, the time you publish them. Once again, you can achieve this by
knowing your target audience. Who are they, and when are they most likely to sit
down in front of their computers and read your blog? If most of your readers are
office workers, then it makes sense to have your new posts ready for them when
they switch on their workstations in the morning. Maybe your blog is aimed at
stay-at-home moms, in which case a good time to post might be mid-morning when
the kids have been dropped off at school, the supermarket run is over, and the first
round of chores are done. If you blog about gigs, bars, and nightclubs in your local
area, the readers may well include twenty-something professionals who access your
blog on their iPhones whilst riding the subway home—a good time to post for them
might be late afternoon.
Links to Other Blogs
We’ll examine this in more detail in Chapter 8, but it’s worth fl agging up here, also.
Links to other bloggers and websites are an important part of your content. Not only
are they great for your blog’s search engine findability, they also help to establish
your place in the blogosphere. Blogging is all about linking to others and the
Try to avoid over-using popular links that appear all over the Web, and instead
introduce your readers to new websites and blogs that they may not have heard
of. Admittedly, this is difficult nowadays with so many bloggers linking to each
other’s posts, but the more original you can be, the better. This may take quite a bit
of research and trawling through the lower-ranked pages on search engines and
indices, but it could be time well spent if your readers come to appreciate you as a
source of new content beyond your own blog. Try to focus on finding blogs in your
niche or key topic areas.
Establishing Your Tone and Voice
Tone and voice are two concepts that professional writers are constantly aware of
and are attempting to improve. An in-depth discussion isn’t necessary here, but it’s
worth being aware of them. The concept of ‘tone’ can seem rather esoteric to the nonprofessional
writer but as you write more and more, it’s something you will become
increasingly aware of.
For our purposes, we could say the ‘tone’ of a blog post is all about the way it feels
or the way the blogger has pitched it. Some posts may seem very informal; others
may be straight-laced, or appear overly complex and technical. Some may seem
quite simplistic, while others come across as advanced material. These are all
matters of tone. It can be quite subtle, but as far as most bloggers are concerned,
it’s usually a matter of formal or informal. How you pitch your writing boils down
to understanding your target audience. Will they appreciate informal, first-person
prose or should you keep it strictly third person, with no slang or casual language?
On blogs, a conversational tone is often the most appropriate.
With regards to ‘voice’, this is what makes your writing distinctly yours. Writers who
develop a distinct voice become instantly recognizable to readers who know them. It
takes a lot of practice to develop and is not something you can consciously aim for; it
just happens as you gain more experience. The only thing you can do to help it along
is step back from your writing and ask yourself if any of your habits stand in the way
While you read back your blog posts imagine yourself as one of your target readers
and consider whether they would appreciate the language and style you’ve used.
Employing tone and voice well is all about getting inside their heads and producing
content they can relate to.
Developing a distinctive voice can also be an important aspect of your company's brand identity. Your marketing department may already have brand guidelines, which allude to the tone and voice that should be used while producing written communications. Or you may wish to develop guidelines (such as this) yourself as a way of focusing your use of tone and voice.
The Structure of a Post
This may not apply to very short posts that don’t go further than a couple of brief
paragraphs, but for anything longer, it’s worth thinking about a structure. The classic
form is ‘beginning, middle, and end’. Consider what your main point or argument is,
and get it down in the first paragraph. In the middle section expand on it and back
it up with secondary arguments. At the end reinforce it, and leave no doubt in the
reader’s mind what it is you’ve been trying to say.
As we’ve already mentioned, blogs are often read quickly or even just scanned
through. Using this kind of structure, which most people are sub-consciously aware
of, can help them extract your main points quickly and easily.
End with a Question
You may have already applied the ‘beginning, middle, and end’ structure, but that’s
not necessarily the best place to end a post. Many bloggers finish with a question.
This is a great way of soliciting comments. If it’s an interesting or provocative
question, it may persuade those readers who only scanned quickly through your
post to go back and digest it in more detail, so that they can give an answer to your
question and join the debate.