The Best WordPress Blogs to Follow in 2018

The Best WordPress Blogs to Follow in 2018

1. Smashing Magazine

Best WordPress Blogs

One of the most consistent and high-quality publications around, Smashing Magazine works as kind of the gold standard for WordPress blogs. Or technology blogs. Or really, blogs in general. Long-form content that dives deep into each subject they tackle is a mainstay, and even when they have sponsored posts, the content is held to the same standards as their day-to-day work and covers useful topics that just happen to pertain to the sponsor’s niche. Whether you’re a WordPress designer, developer, user, or some combination of all of those, you need to read Smashing Magazine. Stat.

 

2. The Pagely Blog

Best WordPress Blogs

You know who understands WordPress? Managed WordPress hosts. That’s just what Pagely is. But their blog isn’t self-promotion at all — it’s a valued resource covering business skills for professionals using WP to make their livings, designers, and more. Their marketing articles touch on topics that many of the best WordPress blogs don’t, so they hit on pressure points you may not even know you need to be pressed. Even their posts on managed WP hosting aren’t tied specifically to them and can be applied to multiple other hosts. All in all, Pagely’s blog is worth a read.

 

3. CodeinWP

Best WordPress Blogs

CodeinWP is, as they put it, a hub for WordPressers. Anyone involved in the pressing of words in any way can find something here. The art of blogging? Check. Business acumen and monetization? Yep. Even productivity tips that can make your WordPressing more…well…productive. They also offer neat downloadables every so often (productivity planners and so on), so they really try to be helpful for their readers. They aren’t just in it for the clicks.

 

4. Cats Who Code

Best WordPress Blogs

While the title absolutely can mean cats in the general folks or people way, this site was named after actual kitties. That’s a major point in its favor. That said, they also provide fantastic resources to WPers, and not only in the WordPress sphere. They cover ideas in general web development, too, as well as design trends. All of the topics, generally, can be applied to WordPress. I don’t think a week goes by that I don’t click into a CatsWhoCode article at least once.

5. Sucuri

Best WordPress Blogs

Not only are they one of the most trusted security plugins in the WordPress world, they also have one of the best WordPress blogs out there, too. When something blows up (not literally of course, but then again you never know with hackers) regarding WordPress, Sucuri will have a blog about it. You should check in occasionally to make sure you’re up to date on the latest threats (and their fixes) to your workspace and livelihood.

 

6.  Wordfence

Best WordPress Blogs

Take everything I said above, but replace Sucuri with Wordfence. (That’s a joke.) You can never be too careful when it comes to website security, and having two go-to publications to stay informed is better than having one.

 

7. WPLift

Best WordPress Blogs

Designed to be accessible, WPLift has a little bit of everything for the WordPress user. If you need to know about plugins, they probably have a write-up. If you want to see about certain themes, again, it’s probably there. They cover security and general tips and even put together guides so that you can be the best WordPresser around. Some of the most lifehack-style WP uses I know came from something I saw on WPLift at one point or another.

8. ManageWP.org

Best WordPress Blogs

Not exactly a blog, ManageWP.org (remember, it’s the .org extension, not .net or .com) is an aggregator of the best WordPress articles that have been published recently. Community submitted and voted on, the best articles tend to make their way to the top across all sorts of different categories. ManageWP is a great way to find some of the best WordPress blogs that you’ve never heard of. They may not be the millions-of-hits-per-day blogs all the time, but if you see it here, it’s generally going to have amazing information.

 

9. Torque

Best WordPress Blogs

Published by the top-end managed host, WP Engine, Torque pretty much lives up to its slogan: all the word that’s fit to press. If it’s worth talking about, you can bet that Torque has either written about it — or will in the near future. Daily posts from some of the WordPress communities top names make this one a guaranteed bookmark in your browser. Or entry in Feedly or whatever you use.

 

10. WP Tavern

Best WordPress Blogs

Free WordPress news. Free podcasts and free commentary. WP Tavern is one of the top news sources for WordPress because they are fast and accurate with what they report. In general, their community is strong and opinionated, and there can be some fantastic discussions in the comments sections. If you want to keep your finger on the beating pulse of our industry, WP Tavern is where to go.

 

11. The Layout by Flywheel

Best WordPress Blogs

If you’ve noticed a trend of managed WordPress hosts having great blogs, it’s because they generally do. Not only is it a great way to give back to their community, but it also helps attract people to their products. Flywheel is managed WP hosting aimed at designers, so their blog, The Layout, targets that same demo. Many of their articles are design best practices, tips to enhance the look and function of your WordPress site, and so on. But they also publish general WordPress tips, too, and a lot are on the technical side but broken down so that non-techies and right-brained people can make heads or tails of them.

 

12. The Yoast SEO Blog

Best WordPress Blogs

Yoast is arguably the King of the kingdom of WordPress SEO. If Google (or other search engines) does it, Yoast is on top of it, too. And their blog then explains it all to you in understandable language with videos and tutorials and infographics. With various series being published at different times, you might see an advice column one day, a use case the next, and then an explanation of why Yoast works the way it does the day after that. There’s a running joke on my weekly livestream that I can’t go a week without talking about Yoast and their blog, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s just too good not to share. So here’s me talking about Yoast’s blog again, sharing it with you, too.

 

13. WooCommerce

Best WordPress Blogs

If you sell things using WordPress, you likely use WooCommerce. If that’s the case, then you should subscribe to the WooCommerce official blog. Not only will you get development updates and know what’s coming so you can prepare your store, they also publish lots of best practices and business tips that have been tested and tend to work really well with the software.

 

14. WPBeginner

Best WordPress Blogs

Pretty much the place for WordPress how-tos these days. If you want to know how to do it in a simple, easy-to-understand, step-by-step way, WPBeginner probably has an article on it. Depending on the problem, their recommended solution may be a plugin to get the job done, while others may be a dive into your PHP files. Either way, when you have an issue, WPBeginner is a great place to see if there’s a solution. And if you can’t find it there…well, you may have just broken the internet.

15. WP Mayor

Best WordPress Blogs

If you can’t trust a blog that has a mascot with a monocle, who can you trust? WP Mayor is one of the best WordPress blogs because it has a little bit of everything for WordPress users. From beginners to advanced users, the team here has something for you. You may find out about a new plugin that makes your life easier or get a tip that increases your ecommerce revenue three-fold. Additionally, they keep a list of WordPress job boards for you, so if you’re looking for a side gig or even a full-time career, you should consider tossing your vote to WP Mayor.

 

16. WPMU DEV

Best WordPress Blogs

You may know WPMUDEV for their great set of premium WP plugins, but did you know they also publish one of the best WordPress blogs, too? Problem-solving is kind of their thing, and if it can happen to WordPress, they probably have a solution for it. And not just a hackey, good-enough solution. But a down-in-the-trenches, in-depth, you’re-never-going-to-worry-about-this-again kind of solution. Their writers will walk you through the steps you need for whatever the task is, and when you’re finished, you can’t not have learned something.

 

17. WPShout!

Best WordPress Blogs

While there are a ton of blogs out there focusing on the everyman WordPresser, WPShout is one of the best WordPress blogs aimed at developers. As you can see in the screenshot, they have quick guides for different topics, free courses you can run through, and they are always posting up new articles with goodies that will keep you clicking. Some of the best posts on WPShout are small commentary blogs that provoke thought and enable discussion, then link out to the article that brought up the idea in the first place. This is a great place to discover so much new stuff that you just have to check it out.

 

18. Ma.tt

Best WordPress Blogs

In 2003, Matt Mullenweg created WordPress. This is his blog.

19. Kinsta

Best WordPress Blogs

Another managed WordPress host putting out amazing content, Kinsta publishes one of the best WordPress blogs. It contains tips on PHP, back-end development, front-end development and design, plugin awareness, marketing, and even ecommerce. Some of the most intriguing content they do, though, is called Kinsta Kingpin, a series of interviews with WordPress professionals like you. While their normal content is superb, there’s something about these interviews that always makes me excited when I see another one posted. I think you’ll feel the same way.

 

20. Post Status

Best WordPress Blogs

Not so much a typical blog as a podcast with really good show notes, Post Status is one of those sites that grabs you and won’t let you go. Run by WP pro Brian Krogsgard, PS has become so much more than just a show or a site. Brian has put together a great community with PS, and he has been publishing and working in WordPress long enough that he has insight into the CMS that many of us only dream of having. He also covers topics that other sites tend to back away from, such as WordPress and Blockchain. Definitely worth a look (and a listen, too).

 

21. Make.WordPress

Best WordPress Blogs

I hesitated to include this one because it is definitely not the typical WordPress blog. But when I was thinking about the best WordPress blogs around, I realized that I check Make WordPress just as often as I do any others out there. You see, make.wordpress.org is the blog where you see what’s going on with WordPress as it happens. You get Gutenberg updates (in their What’s New in Gutenberg? series), team meeting minutes so you can see what was talked about during the latest design team or community building meeting, and that sort of thing. It’s not really a how-to kind of blog, but if you have even a passing interest in the goings-on behind the curtain, Make WordPress Core is going to impress you

 

 

36 Free Places to Promote Your Website Online

36 Free Places to Promote Your Website Online

Promoting your website to reach wider audiences is a multi-tiered process. One of the first steps is to find valuable websites and online platforms that allow you to highlight your site’s URL in one way or another. To save you the leg work, we compiled a list of 36 great places for promoting online content. These links will help you establish your online presence one by one. Some work with a simple URL submission while others require a more strategic approach, but they all share one thing – they are free of charge.

What have you got to lose? Start now!

Online Directories for Businesses

Ranging from the most high-profile platforms to local directories, these websites cover a range of audiences. The flow is pretty much the same – you submit your website’s URL, as well as additional information about your business or organization. These sites, in turn, incorporate your info to their data banks, ensuring that your link is there when users are searching your content categories. In addition to direct display of your content, adding your links to these directories improves your site’s Search Engine Optimization, gradually improving your website’s ranking on search results.

Social Media and User-Generated Content

Social media has plenty to offer website owners. You’ve all heard of Facebook, of course, but are you using it correctly to promote your site? Have you considered the advantages of Pinterest, for instance? What about user-generated content like guides and tutorials on sites like WikiHow? The links below can all prove extremely useful for promoting your website. All you need to do is explore the ways in which they do.

Social Bookmarking and Curating

While these websites also operate on the basis of link-submission, the emphasis here is on content. You could submit a link to the main page as well as to individual pages, products, posts, images etc. These platforms then circulate your content to their audience base and drive traffic into your site, while also helping to boost your SEO by connecting your links to textual descriptive content.

The Ultimate List of Free Stock Photo Resources

The Ultimate List of Free Stock Photo Resources

Photos are some of the most valuable resources for any business or creative ministry. While I’m a huge fan of using pictures that are actually taken in your business or church, I’ve learned that’s not always possible. That’s where stock photos come in. A great stock photo can provide professionalism, beauty, and quality that you may not have access.

A Google search for these valuable resources will generate an infinite number of websites with stock images ranging from a few bucks per photo to thousands of dollars per photo.

What if I told you that you could get absolutely beautiful stock photos for free? You’re not dreaming, my friend. Below are my favorite resources to download some of the best photos on the web for $0/photo. Check out these Free Stock Photo Resources.

1. Unsplash

 

2. Death To The Stock Photo

3. Lightstock’s Free Photo of the Week

4. StockSnap.io

 

5. Gratisography

6. Freely Photos

7. Life of Pix

8. No More Clip Art

9. Snapwire Snaps

10. Picjumbo

11. Jay Mantri

12. New Old Stock

 

Do you have any other resources for free stock photos?

How to Get More Facebook Likes: 10 Tactics

How to Get More Facebook Likes: 10 Tactics

How many Facebook Likes does your business Page have? If you’re immersed in social media marketing, you probably know this number off the top of your head.

With more than two billion users, Facebook offers a huge potential audience for your business. But with more than 60 million active Facebook business Pages on the network, there’s also a lot of competition for those all-important Likes.

There’s no getting around it: getting more Likes is a critical part of your Facebook marketing strategy. But you can’t get so focused on Likes that you lose sight of what Facebook is all about.

Getting more Likes requires you to share content that is truly likeable—and engage in ways that make your brand likable, too. You won’t find any underhanded gimmicks in this post. It’s about getting more likes by being a good Facebook citizen and working to create content that has real value for an audience that will provide plenty of value for your brand in return.

Click any of the tips below to jump ahead, or keep scrolling and read the guide in its entirety.

10 clever ways to get more Facebook likes

1. Develop a smart Facebook marketing strategy

2. Craft a great Page

3. Make your Facebook Page easy to find

4. Post relevant, high-quality content

5. Engage consistently and at the right times

6. Host a Facebook contest

7. Engage with other brands and communities on Facebook

8. Use the Facebook algorithm to your advantage

9. Run Facebook ads to expand your reach

10. Learn from Facebook Insights

1. Develop a smart Facebook marketing strategy

As with any marketing platform, you’ll only get out of Facebook what you put into it. A well-defined, smart Facebook strategy based on your business goals will help you craft a cohesive brand presence on Facebook that speaks to your brand personality and values.

Define your target audience

Your strategy should aim to collect Likes from the followers who have the most potential to bring value to your business through regular engagement, rather than one-off Likes from online passers-by. Defining your audience personas can be a great place to start. After all, you need to know who you’re talking to in order to use the right tools and tone, rather than trying to appeal to all two billion Facebook users.

Research the competition

Keeping an eye on what key competitors are up to will help you spot techniques that work, and that don’t, so you can model the competition’s success while avoiding their missteps. You’ll also start to get a sense of how many Facebook Likes you can aim for—both for your Page and for individual posts.

Social listening is a great research strategy that can help you gather information about both your target audience and your competition.

Set goals

Simply aiming for “more Likes” is not really a great Facebook marketing goal—how will you know when you’ve achieved it? Instead, you should create goals based on S.M.A.R.T. principles, meaning they’re specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

This allows you to circle back on a regular basis to see whether you’re meeting your targets, and either celebrate your success and develop new stretch goals, or consider strategic shifts to get you back on track.

2. Craft a great Page

This may sound obvious, but sometimes the most important points can be easy to overlook: If you want to collect Likes, you’ve got to have a great Page and consistently great posts. Your Facebook Page is made up of many parts, and it’s important to make sure they are all complete, professional, and on-brand. Here are some key components to consider.

Use all elements of the About section

The About section of your Facebook Page allows you to provide key business details to people who are scanning for specific information. In addition to your contact information, you can add the date your business was founded, provide a company overview, or even add a list of brand milestones.

All of this information helps build your credibility and convince potential followers that your Page is worthy of a Like. It also helps you appear in searches outside of Facebook, directing users to your Page when they’re using search engines to look for information about your product or business.

Visit California uses their About section to tell the story of travel in the state, and manages to get a number of important keywords into their Story section without keyword stuffing.

how to get more likes on facebook

Facebook also views a Page with a complete profile as more credible, which gives you an advantage in the Facebook algorithm (more on that below) and will help ensure more people see your posts.

Choose compelling cover and profile photos

Your profile and cover photos create the first visual impression of your business on Facebook, so it’s important to choose wisely. Your logo is usually the best choice for your profile photo, but you can get quite creative with your cover photo selection.

Put some thought into how you can convey what your business is all about in one compelling image. Do you have a great-looking product you can feature? Maybe you want to showcase a photo of your friendly team. Whatever you choose, make sure it captures the essence of your brand so potential followers have reason to dive into your Page content.

Iced tea might not be the most exciting product, but Nestea does a great job of making both their Page and their product look appealing with a compelling cover image.

Increase Facebook likes

In terms of the technical details, your profile photo displays on your Page as 170 x 170 pixels on computers and 128 x 128 pixels on smartphones. You cover photo displays on your Page at 820 pixels x 312 pixels on computers and 640 pixels by 340 pixels on smartphones. Facebook recommends you use a cover photo that’s 851 x 315 pixels and less than 100KB.

A newer and more dynamic option for business Pages is to use a cover video instead of a cover photo. Your cover video can be up to 20 seconds long, and has the same dimensions as a cover photo.

Pin a top-performing post

If you have a post that’s garnering a particularly high number of Likes, you can pin it to maximize its lifespan. When you choose to pin a post, it remains at the top of your Page, so people see it before any of your other posts. You can change your pinned post as often as you like, so make sure to keep it fresh, always featuring your best-performing content in this high-visibility location.

how to get more Facebook likes

3. Make your Facebook Page easy to find

This is a simple concept that deserves repeating: people can’t like your Facebook Page if they can’t find it. Here are some things you can do to increase your visibility.

Choose an easy-to-discover Page name

People looking for your brand on Facebook will be searching for your brand name. Keep things simple and make it easy for them to find you by using your brand name as your Page name. Don’t add unnecessary keywords—these will just make your Page look spammy rather than like a legitimate business presence for your brand.

Select a memorable and consistent username

Your username—sometimes called a vanity URL—appears in your brand’s Facebook Page web address. A username that’s consistent with your handle on other social channels will make it easier for people who already follow you elsewhere to track you down on Facebook. Like your Page name, your username should be closely related to the name of your business.

Add Facebook follow and Like buttons to your website or blog

Someone who has just discovered a valuable tip or strategy on your website or blog is primed to want to hear more from you. Make it easy for them to connect with you on Facebook by adding Facebook follow and Like buttons to your site, like these:

Embed a Facebook Post on your website or blog

This option provides even more visibility for your Facebook Page on your website or blog. Rather than a simple button, you can embed an entire post by copy and pasting some simple code. Just navigate to the post you want to embed, click the three dots in the top right corner, and click Embed. Then copy and paste the code into your HTML. Here’s an example from the Hootsuite Facebook Page:

Any visitors who click on your embedded post to learn more will be taken to the post as it appears on your Facebook Page, creating an opportunity for a new Page Like. And viewers can like the post itself directly from the embedded post, without leaving your website or blog.

Include a link to your Facebook Page in your newsletter or email signature

The people you already communicate with through channels like email or an opt-in newsletter are a great potential audience for your Facebook Page. Make sure it’s easy for them to find and connect with you by including links to your Facebook Page in all of your electronic communications.

Cross-promote your Facebook page on other social channels

Take advantage of the following you’ve built on other social channels by cross-promoting your Facebook content. Don’t just post a link to your Facebook Page and ask people to follow you. Instead, choose a great piece of Facebook-specific content—like an infographic or short video—to promote so that you can highlight the value of your Facebook Page, rather than just letting people know it exists.

Aim for shares

Shared Facebook posts increase your organic reach, giving you a better chance of getting more facebook Likes. A share also indicates that someone felt strongly enough about your content that they were motivated to share it with their personal network, giving you additional credibility with an audience that may not already be familiar with your brand.

Invite existing contacts and employees to like your Facebook page

Facebook makes it easy to invite personal Facebook connections to like your business Page, but be careful about how you use this feature. Simply sending out mass invites is more likely to get you unfriended than to bring in Facebook Likes for your Business Page.

Instead, create a message explaining what value you think your contacts might gain from liking your Page. Make it about them, not about you.

You should also encourage employees to like your Facebook Page—both so that they can stay up-to-date with what you’re promoting as a brand, and as part of a larger employee advocacy strategy.

Promote your Facebook Page in real life

Don’t limit your promotion of your Facebook Page to the online world. Include your Page address on your business cards and corporate stationery. Designer Ana Bermejo uses the same handle across social networks and includes the icons on her business cards so contacts know where to find and Like her on social, including Facebook.

Or, if you host events, include the address on your signage.

People who are already interacting with your brand in real life understand the value you have to offer—make it easy for them to connect with you on Facebook to access more of that value.

4. Post relevant, high-quality content

Facebook recommends you share “short, fun-to-read copy and eye-catching images to get attention.” What does that look like in practice? Incorporate these strategies to develop posts that are inherently likeable.

Include compelling visuals

A study published in the journal Management Science found that posts with photos receive significantly more Facebook Likes than text-only posts. If you don’t have a photo library of your own, there are plenty of free stock photo sites you can use. You could also try creating a unique infographic that conveys valuable information relevant to your niche, or even something humorous, like this graphic from WIRED that got 1,500 Facebook Likes.

Write great headlines

A compelling headline is key to getting attention for your post—but don’t veer into the realm of clickbait. Facebook offers these tips for crafting a great headline:

  • Make your headlines informative
  • Use your headline to set appropriate expectations about what the post contains
  • Be clear and accurate

Don’t be too promotional

Sure, you’re trying to promote your brand on Facebook—but people want their feeds to be entertaining and informative, not pushy and packed with sales pitches. In particular, Facebook found in a survey that followers do not like posts that:

  • Direct people to purchase a product or download an app (without offering any other valuable content or information)
  • Direct people to enter a contest without providing any context about why it’s relevant to the Page or followers’ interests
  • Reuse content from ads

That means these posts are less likely to generate Facebook Likes from the followers who see them. But they are also less likely to be seen in the first place, since Facebook specifically limits organic reach for Pages that are too promotional.

Give followers what they want

How do you know what type of content people want from you on Facebook? By listening to them. If the majority of the comments on your Page are customer service inquiries, try creating content that focuses on helping followers use your product better. For example, try a short video featuring “hacks” or alternative uses for your product, or a series of “how-to” videos or photos. Experiment, and pay attention to what people respond to.

Invest in video

On that note, if you seriously want to increase Facebook Likes and you don’t already have a Facebook video strategy, it’s time to create one.

5. Engage consistently and at the right times

Post consistently

Facebook itself notes that “being consistent in the quality and types of posts you create can help people know what kinds of messages to expect from you and how they tie into your business.” Create a content calendar and schedule posts in advance to help keep your Facebook content organized and consistent.

Post at the right time

We’ve found the optimal times to be 12–3 p.m. weekdays and 12–1 p.m. on weekends.

Be responsive and human

If you want more people to like your Facebook Page, you need to engage with those who already do. Unanswered comments or questions on a Facebook Page can be a huge deterrent for potential new fans. Remember, Facebook is a social network, and being sociable is a key way to make your brand—and your Page—more likeable.

6. Host a Facebook contest

In a poll by the Content Marketing Institute, 81 percent of marketers said that interactive content (like contests) is better for grabbing readers’ attention than static content.

Even better, liking a post is a popular form of contest entry—and one that’s allowed under Facebook’s contest rules (unlike “share to win” contests, which, while popular, are technically prohibited). For example, Funko got nearly 7,000 Facebook Likes on this like-to-enter contest:



To start collecting more Facebook Likes with a contest of your own, check out our post on how to run a successful Facebook contest.

7. Engage with other brands and communities on Facebook

Remember that Facebook is primarily a social network—so get social and start engaging with other brands that are relevant to your niche but not your direct competitors. A simple Like or comment on another brand’s post can help draw their attention and open up opportunities to work together to cross-promote your businesses so you both gain more Facebook Likes. Tagging other brands may also expose your Page to a new audience (that other brand’s followers)—but only use tags in relevant posts.

Look for communities of potential followers to engage with, too. Facebook Groups are a great place to find people who are passionate about subjects related to your niche, and offer you the opportunity to highlight your expertise. Just make sure your participation in Facebook Groups is helpful, rather than promotional, or you might find yourself kicked out of the group.

8. Use the Facebook algorithm to your advantage

Understanding the Facebook algorithm is key to increasing your organic reach—in other words, getting your Page and your posts in front of more people who could potentially give you a Like. At its core, the Facebook algorithm prioritizes the types of content we’ve already talked about: Quality content that is not overly promotional.

This should really come as no surprise. Facebook wants people to enjoy browsing their News Feeds, which means it wants to surface the best content to the top. Invest the time to produce valuable posts, and don’t be a spammy jerk. Facebook specifically highlights authentic posts that inform and entertain as having value recognized by the algorithm.

One additional way to take advantage of the Facebook algorithm is to try live video. The algorithm prioritizes live broadcasts, bumping them higher in the News Feed. If you have an event or presentation that would work live, give it a try.

9. Run Facebook ads to expand your reach

Facebook offers very detailed ad targeting, so you can laser-focus your advertising efforts and make the most of your ad spend. Putting your brand in front of your ideal audience is a great way to pick up more Facebook Likes. There are two different types of Facebook advertising: boosted posts and ad campaigns.

Boost a post

By boosting a post, you can extend the audience beyond people who already like your Page. This can be a great option for a post that’s already proved to be compelling by bringing in a large number of Facebook Likes from people who already follow your Page.

Run a campaign

Facebook offers campaign objectives relevant to every type of business. Since this post is about how to get Facebook Likes, we’ll focus on the Engagement objective, which is designed to expose your ad to a wide audience to increase the number of post or Page Likes. For example, this ad from WealthSimple offers the option to like the Page with just one click.

how to get more Facebook likes

10. Learn from Facebook Insights

Analyzing Facebook Page Insights can give you a clear view of who your current fans are, which will help you better target future Facebook efforts. You’ll also be able to identify the kinds of posts that have the highest average reach and engagement, and use that information to create more of the content your audience wants from you on Facebook.

After all, learning from your mistakes, amplifying your successes, and giving your followers content you know they’ll enjoy are key ways to boost the quality of your content, and lead to—you guessed it—more Facebook Likes.

The Essential Elements of Blog Management

The Essential Elements of Blog Management

Starting a website takes a lot of planning. Far too often, the planning stops there. Keeping a blog going and making it successful also takes planning. A blog is just like any business or project. To make a blog successful requires careful blog management.In this article we’ll take a look at blog management and see the tasks involved. These tasks are not that difficult but they do take time and focus. If you put in the effort and manage your blog well it will go far into meeting your goals for your blog. Along the way I’ve added links to articles where you can read more about each topic.

Content

Image via Julia Tim / shutterstock.com

A blog is only as good as the content it provides. Content should be high quality and meet the reader’s needs. This isn’t done by chance. Content must be strategically planned.

Some of the tasks involved include:

  • Ongoing ideas
  • Categories
  • Editing
  • Sourcing for images
  • Schedule
  • Mediate comments
  • Monitor success

Content Strategy

Don’t just post what you like. Know what the market needs. Keep in touch with the community to know their struggles and needs, understand trends, follow news, and other opportunities. Listen to readers in the comments and on social media. This will help in creating ongoing ideas for posts.

Use analytics to know your audience, their knowledge level, their goals, and their needs. Are they beginners that need information to get started? Are they hobbyists that need information to get them to the next level? Are they professionals who need information they can use to grow their own business? It’s a good idea to know your 3 primary target audiences.

Keeping your target market in mind, create a road map to provide readers with information they need. This will help grow your readership. This information sets the level and tone, and ensures the content the blog provides is what the readers expect.

Perform keyword research to help you know the content that would meet the needs of your audience and set your blog apart from the crowd.

Test various content types (long form articles, interviews, reviews, etc.) to see what works best for your readers. Don’t be afraid to ask them.

Know your competition. What do they produce that’s missing from your website that your readers need? Provide this content with greater detail or in a better format.

Use deep analytics tools to learn what your visitors are looking for and information such as their country, screen size, etc. Keeping an eye on the traffic will let you know when it’s time to upgrade your server.

Quality and Quantity

Create high-quality content. Always edit each post for the highest level of readability and accuracy. This includes SEO best practices to help improve blog rankings in search engine results.

Improving quality includes performing keyword research for every post, formatting images, text, bullets, links, meta, tags, tailoring calls to action to the audience, and tracking what works.

Maintain an editorial calendar with a good mix of content. This means keeping a consistent post schedule. According to HubSpot, blogs that post more than 16 times per month receive 3.5 times the traffic as those that publish 0-4 times per month.

Even if you can’t post 16 times per month you should keep a consistent posting schedule so your readers will know when to expect your articles. The frequency will depend on your audience and your site’s goals. How many websites have you seen that proudly display their latest event and it was two years out of date?

Writers and Writing

Large blogs often utilize multiple writers who are able to specialize in specific fields. Keep an eye out for the best freelance writers to contribute to your blog. Look for a diverse knowledge rather than everyone specializing in the same thing. Maintaining a list of reliable writers can keep your content high quality and on schedule.

Provide writing guidelines. This includes quality of writing expected, acceptable sources for media, media sizes and types, word counts, formatting, how to use links, how to submit articles, submitting ideas, deadlines, etc. The guidelines should be updated as changes are needed. Writing guidelines are useful even if you are the only writer because they help keep your posts consistent.

Utilize project management tools to keep content on schedule. Popular tools include:

Ads

Manage advertising programs within the articles and sidebars. This includes finding the best and most relevant affiliate programs, choosing ad designs and styles that fit within your branding, and keeping them updated.

Products

Managing products can be a full-time job on its own. Whether the products are digital or physical, the blog manager must handle product sourcing, prices, descriptions, customer questions, support, updates, etc. This also includes the eCommerce platform itself with viewing reports and keeping shipping and payment gateways up to date.

Comments

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Comments are a great way to build a community and it gives readers a chance to voice their opinion. Depending on the size of the blog, dealing with comments can take a lot of time as the blog manager must determine which comments to allow and which to block. Maintain a commenting policy. This will explain to readers what is allowed and what isn’t.

Unfortunately not all comments are from real readers and not all comments should be published. Many comments are actually spam in disguise. The blog manager must not allow spam comments as they undermine the quality of the blog. I recommend using a spam-blocking plugin to help filter comments.

I don’t recommend posting offensive and insulting comments as they don’t provide value and can do more harm than good. I do recommend posting comments that identify problems and even disagree with points in your content. These can bring healthy conversation and debate, which adds to the quality of the discussion.

Social Media and Newsletters

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Blog management isn’t just creating content – it’s also promoting that content. Years ago we could publish articles and walk away, but today we have to share our content to get as many eyes on it as possible.

The blog manager needs to share on social media, post videos and podcasts to YouTube and other networks, create and post newsletters, etc. The blog manager must also create and sharing specialized promotions and ads.

They must determine which social networks, and which groups within those networks, bring the best ROI (return on investment, which in this case is time).

Post according to the best times for your networks and audience. Many prefer to use tools such as Hootsuiteand Buffer to help manage social networks.

Maintenance

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A blog must be maintained. This includes creating backups, hardening security, etc., as well as updating the WordPress core, themes, and plugins. These updates are crucial. They not only provide feature enhancements but also security patches and bug fixes.

Older versions of WordPress pose a danger of getting hacked. WordPress does update to the latest minor version automatically, but major updates have to be implemented manually. This can require testing and possibly fixing compatibility issues.

Themes and plugins also provide security patches, bug fixes, and add new features, but they have another concern to deal with – compatibility. Even if your themes or plugins have no security or bug issues it’s possible that some features will not work which can make your site look incomplete.

Try updates on test servers before implementing them on your live website. Be sure to test on multiple platforms and browsers.

Improvement

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Even if your website is running smoothly it can always run better. This includes the design, features, and even content. This also means keeping your site SEO optimized.

The site needs to be tested against its objectives and goals. For example, does your call to action perform according to your expectations? Are you getting the traffic or conversions you want?

Qualitative and quantitative data can help improve the blog. The blog manager should run a/b testing to see what’s effective and what isn’t. Maybe colors need to change, buttons need to move to a new location, calls to action need to be clearer, content quality or focus needs adjusting, etc.

Pay attention to performance. Test page-loading speeds to see what the loading issues are and make the changes it recommends. Pages that load too slowly can send your visitors to your competition. The faster a site can load the better.

Choosing Themes and Plugins

Often features need to be added or the design direction needs to be modified. This sometimes requires the blog manager to choose new themes and plugins. Making good choices is crucial as themes and plugins affect not only the design of the site but also the security and speed. Every plugin that adds a new feature might have a negative impact on something else such as usability or loading time.

The blog manager will need to compare themes and plugins on a routine basis to ensure they still provide the features needed and to see if there are better options.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of tasks involved with blog maintenance. Running a blog is much more than posting articles. It’s determining which topics to focus on, the length of content, types of content, hiring writers, promoting content, handling comments, keeping the site safe and updated, and making improvements. It’s setting blog goals, ensuring the blog is meeting its goals, and modifying goals as needed.

Managing a blog isn’t difficult, but to do it right it does take time and planning. You can get out of it what you put into it. The principles are the same regardless of the size of the blog. If you manage your blog well you can have a website that meets your goals and your readers’ needs.

5 New Things You Can Do with WordPress 4.8

5 New Things You Can Do with WordPress 4.8

One of WordPress’ best features is that it’s constantly improving and evolving. Frequent major and minor updates ensure the platform is secure, and provide new and improved functionality. The latest version – WordPress 4.8 – is no exception, so it’s important to update your site as soon as you can. What’s more, it’s just as vital to understand what’s changed and how you can take advantage of the new features.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to WordPress 4.8, also referred to as ‘Evans’ in honor of jazz pianist and composer William John ‘Bill’ Evans. We’ll run through this update’s major changes and additions, and show you how to use them. Let’s take a look!

1. Add New Media Widgets to Your Site

Widgets have always been a simple way to customize your WordPress site’s functionality and add important features. The core platform has developed quite the collection over time, including widgets that add calendars, lists of comments or posts, custom menus, and more to your site.

WordPress 4.8 expands on the existing offerings by adding three new media widgets. While you previously had to install a plugin if you wanted to easily add media files through widgets, you can now do so without any extra tools.

First up, the developers have created an Image widget that enables you to easily add pictures to your widget areas. Simply drag the widget to your sidebar or footer to activate it. Then give it a title if you’d like, and click on Add Image to upload your file:

The new WordPress Image Widget.

The other two media widgets – the Video widget and the Audio widget – work exactly the same way. All you need to do is add the right kind of file, and it will be displayed on the front end of your site. It’s that simple!

2. Experiment with the Improved Text Widget

WordPress has had a Text widget for a long time. It’s always been a handy way to add some extra text to your sidebar or footer, such as a short bio, disclaimer, or copyright information. However, the existing widget was incredibly simple. It only enabled you to type in a title and content, and didn’t let you customize the appearance of either element easily.

This was inconvenient for many users, because they had to use HTML if they wanted to format the text in any way. Fortunately, WordPress 4.8 has brought a much-needed update to this older tool. The new version of the Text widget includes a simplified version of the same editor you already use to customize your posts and pages:

The updated WordPress text widget.

This means you can now easily add formatting and links, and view the content of your Text widget through both the Visual and Text editors. You can even incorporate bulleted and numbered lists. This is great news for existing WordPress users who wanted a more useful feature, and newer users who may not have known how to add formatting to the older version of the widget.

3. Build Custom Media Widgets

So far, we’ve covered both new and improved widgets courtesy of WordPress 4.8. This next widget-related addition is a little different, since it will be more of interest to developers than to casual users of the platform.

In a nutshell, the three new media widgets we talked about earlier were all created using the Widgets API. All three run using the same base class, which determines how they function. This same class can be used to simplify the creation of new media widgets. That means developers will have an easy time building similar types of widgets, such as ones that add a gallery or playlist to your site.

If you’re a developer (or if you’re simply interested in that side of WordPress) there are a few additional behind-the-scenes changes to the platform in this latest update. You can read more about them in the WordPress.org news section.

4. Simplify Your Workflow With the New Link Boundaries

Sometimes, the best updates are the simplest ones. Small changes that improve your everyday workflow can save you time and help your tasks go more smoothly. Such is the case with the WordPress 4.8 update to link functionality.

In short, there are now ‘link boundaries’ within the WordPress editor. When you add a link to your page or post, it will have a clearly defined beginning and end point. This means it’s easier to add text either to the link itself, or before and after the link, and avoid accidentally linking the wrong words.

You’ll see this feature working right away in your editor. When you add a link and click on it, blue highlighting will appear and show you exactly what characters are part of the link:

The new WordPress link boundaries features.

Simply type within the box to add text to the link itself. If you want to add text outside the link, place your cursor at one end of the box and hit the left or right arrow key. The highlighting will disappear, and you’ll know you are no longer editing the link. In the long run, this small update should save you some frustration and make the WordPress editor a little more intuitive.

5. Display Nearby WordPress Events on Your Dashboard

The previous four updates have introduced changes to the way you design your site and create content. In contrast, this final addition is meant to help you more easily connect with the larger WordPress community.

We’re talking about the updated WordPress News and Events widget on your website’s dashboard. It will appear by default as soon as you activate WordPress 4.8, although you can remove it if you’d like:

The new Events and News dashboard widget.

This back end widget was formerly the WordPress News section, which displayed the latest happenings in the WordPress community. The new version does the same thing, but now also displays a list of WordPress events in your nearby area – including WordCamps and meetups. These events are a perfect way to meet other WordPress developers and enthusiasts, hone your skills, and get more eyes on your own work. With WordPress 4.8, you don’t have to leave your site to find out about these valuable opportunities.

Conclusion

As an open-source platform with a huge, supportive community, WordPress is a project that’s always evolving. This is a good thing, because it means developers are constantly adding new features and improving existing functionality. Keeping your site up-to-date is vital, and so is staying abreast of the latest updates.

There are a number of new and interesting things you can do with WordPress 4.8, including:

  1. Adding new media widgets to your site.
  2. Experimenting with the improved Text widget.
  3. Building custom media widgets.
  4. Simplifying your workflow with the new link boundaries.
  5. Displaying WordPress events on your dashboard.

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