Friday, June 24, 2011

Blogging Bootcamp

As writers and/or publishers, at some point we all need to hop with both feet into social media. Blogging is a great way to start to build a following for your book, and a lot of people begin with blogger.com. This blog as well as my personal blog are both on the blogger.com platform. It is very user friendly, proving in my case that you can teach an old dog new tricks. However when it came time to develop a blog for my passion of researching house history, I elected to go with WordPress.org. I chose WP for a couple of reasons: 1) it looks more like a website, containing static pages as well as the pages you update more frequently, such as your blog pages; and 2) you can make sales on WP, which was important to me as I was just completing my book "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed(room)? Researching a St. Louis County, Missouri Home".

WordPress is not as friendly for newbies as blogger.com, however. So when I learned that Show Me the Blog St. Louis (SMBSTL) was hosting a WordPress Blogging Bootcamp last weekend, I jumped at the chance to participate. Having attended two other workshops put on by Danyelle Little of SMBSTL, I knew my time would be well spent. More than 20 eager bloggers crammed the conference room at Nebula Coworking on South Jefferson. My head is STILL spinning from all that I learned, but I will try and summarize the points that struck home with me the most.

The first part of the workshop was conducted by Kesha Brown, founder of XD Web Solutions. Check out Kesha's website at http://xdwebsolutions.com. First of all, you can set up your blog on either WordPress.com or Wordpress.org. With the .com site you have limited storage space, you cannot accept ads (a source of revenue for many bloggers), and you will have a long domain name. The .org site allows you to have ads, make sales, and own your web content. Both sites are free. Check out the WordPress.org site for lots of helpful articles. It is recommended that you grab the domain names that are pertinent to your business, such as yourname.com and yourname.net. You will also want the .com and .net domain names of your business or the name of your book, for example.

Kesha then set us up on a WordPress blog so that we could all follow along as she went through the features offered by WordPress. This workshop was really hands-on, as we had been instructed to bring our laptops or tablets with us. It was so helpful to be able to actually do the steps as she was explaining them to us. Kesha finished up by going over her favorite plugins for WordPress.

Danyelle conducted the second part of the workshop, talking more specifically about blogging. Her suggestions for how you can get content for your blogs are as follows:
- pose questions on social media
- ask for guest bloggers
- blog on other people's sites
She also talked about using other forms of social media to increase your web presence. Twitter Tools is a plugin that will automatically upload your WordPress post to your Twitter account. Using Facebook and LinkedIn will also help build your social media rankings.

Following the workshop, I came home and made some changes to myhousehistory.net, incorporating my new-found knowledge. I still have things that need to be addressed on my WordPress site, but attending the blogging bootcamp gave me the confidence I need to not be intimidated by my own website!

This fall Show Me the Blog St. Louis will be offering a two day blogging workshop in St. Louis. You can find the details here. I highly recommend attending this extremely reasonable event. You won't be disappointed!

2 comments:

  1. GREAT INFO!!! Thanks for sharing!! You are many technical miles ahead of the average bear!!

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  2. I also appreciate your re-capping this for those of us who missed the announcement of the seminar. The tips above are excellent!

    ReplyDelete