Recently I wrote a post that described why blogging is even more important in the age of social. The post outlined the increasing benefits of using this powerful tool as a key driver of marketing related content.
A few readers chimed in and asked me to detail the mechanics of my blog set up so today I’ll go over the specific set-up, plugins and techniques I use in my blogging routine.
I’ve used a blog in my marketing for ten years now, written 2500 blog posts and consider my blog my most valuable business asset and yet, I’ve never considered myself a blogger – it’s just always seemed like the easiest way to spread my message and grow my community and that’s how I’ve positioned it over the years as I’ve pushed every business owner I’ve spoken with to employ this tool.
I don’t plan what I am going to write too far in advance. I have a pretty rough idea of what an upcoming week is going to entail, but I leave room to stumble on an emerging idea, change in some social network or the occasional rant as I consume content.
I have a set of topics, a lot like chapters in a book, that I return to time and again as them make up the core “point of view” that I build both my ongoing themes and SEO around.
I digest over 100 blog feeds, dozens of email newsletters and a handful of print publications in an effort to draw inspiration and information to use in my blogging.
I started this blog in 2003 using an oddly named software called pMachine. pMachine later morphed into a tool that’s still available called Expression Engine.
As you can see in the image above I referred to it as a weblog – this was actually what the tool was called in the earliest days.
It’s reference to the fact that the software was created as a tool for developers to log what they done while working on a project and easily share that over the web with other developers – thus a weblog. It was later shortened to blog, which really has no meaning, but sounded less techie I guess.
In 2005 I met that folks at Automatic at SXSW and they offered to migrate me to a somewhat newish platform called WordPress and that’s where I’ve remained and what I recommend. In 2008 I got the wild idea to run my entire site, not just my blog, using WordPress and with each passing upgrade it seems to me that this is how every web site should be set up.
I’m on my 5th theme currently. I’ve used a mixture of custom themes and my current theme is a custom configuration of iBuilder from iThemes.
Themes have evolved as much as any aspect of the WordPress ecosystem and most fully support my contention that WordPress should be used to run your entire site. The most advanced premium themes today are built on a framework that allows you or a designer to easily create fully custom looks and set-ups using what are referred to as child themes.
Today’s themes are lightweight and flexible and are starting to really take into account the growing need for responsiveness – another way of saying they look good on big and little screens alike.
Early next month I’ll push a site redesign live that is built on what is quickly becoming one of the most popular frameworks – Genesis from Studio Press.
Plugins are a great way to extend the functionality of WordPress, but they’re also one of the biggest sources of trouble. I used to add any cool plugin that I came across that looked valuable, but now I’m pretty picky and stick with a core set choosing simplicity and page load speed over features.
My current set up includes:
- AddToAny – Makes it easier for people to subscribe to your blog feed using any tool they choose
- Contextual Related Posts – Adds related posts at the end of each blog posts and really encourages additional pages views and reading
- Disqus Commenting System – full featured commenting system that cuts the spam and adds more interaction
- Google XML Sitemaps - helps push content to search engines
- Premise – Landing page creation tool from Copyblogger that makes it very easy to create pages outside your theme
- Sociable – adds social media icons to post so reader can easily share content
- W3Total Cache – dramatically improves speed and user experience in an under the hood kind of way
- WordPress SEO – great tool for quickly adding important SEO elements like title attributes that are different than title of posts
- WPTouch Pro – Simple mobile theme tool for browsers coming to my blog on mobile device
This is an element of blogging that gets downplayed in the hyper commoditized world of web hosting, but in my experience it’s a biggie. I jumped around a few times as my site grew and increased traffic (a good thing) slowed my page loads (a really bad thing)
Recently I’ve switched to Synthesis, a new class of managed hosting designed specifically to host WordPress sites. The speed of my site increased dramatically and will increase again once I’m using the Synthesis framework.
It’s really the only hosting I recommend these days as the service is very good, security is ridiculously strong and my entire site, including database is backed up automatically every day.
I wrote a post recently on the precise way I push out my new content each day and nothing has really changed from that post so I’ll link to it here.
This is a topic that many people underestimate. If you want to build a readership, attract links and maybe even draw in a customer, you’ve got to commit to a systematic approach to sharing as well as writing.
(Small Business Marketing Expert)
The title of this post might be one of the most important questions that entrepreneurs never ask – or at least fail to consider the answer to frequently enough.
I’ve written an entire book on this notion called The Commitment Engine – Making Work Worth It. (Oct 2012) The book is a study in how entrepreneurs find and commit to work worth doing and then how they build an organization with a culture based on work worth doing and finally how they create a community that believes in and wants to be a part of the work worth doing.
The book features some pretty amazing stories from some pretty amazing entrepreneurs, but today I want to get your story. For the next few weeks I am collecting as many answers as possible to this seemingly simple question:
What Makes the Work You Do Worth It?
It’s such an interesting and at times arresting question. As I’ve begun to pose it to more and more individuals I’ve come to appreciate the distinction between those that know it immediately, without hesitation, and those that ask to get back to me or what my deadline is.
Here’s what I’ve learned. If you don’t know the answer to this question off the top of your head, you’ve got some work to do. I don’t say that as a form of judgment, it’s just that I’ve become convinced that it’s nearly impossible to be fully alive in this world without a commitment to some purpose that makes the work you do worth it.
And the funny thing about this idea is that it doesn’t matter what that is, as long as there’s a strong commitment. I’ve interviewed people that gain a great deal of success serving a higher purpose that involves changing lives for the better and I’ve also spoken with those that understand their work and the money it brings simply serves a means to a different end that fulfills them.
There’s no right answer and that may be part of the challenge because we immediately think a term like “higher purpose” should point us in a spiritual direction, but it doesn’t need to. The only thing that matters is that we understand and connect to why we do what we do – end of story.
Again, please take a minute and share your work story in the form of answer to this question – What make the work you do work it? please add it to this form
I want to share two very different stories I’ve collected because I think they help illustrate just how important, yet how unique, this idea is to each individual. (I plan to share lots of these stories, including yours, over the next few week.)
1) Penelope Trunk – penelopetrunk.com
What Makes the Work You Do Worth It?
I get paid. That’s what makes the work I do worth it. Because I already know how I like to spend my time. I don’t need to get paid to do stuff I love. I’d do it anyway. But I need to feed my family. So I adjust the stuff I love to do so that I can get paid for it.
For example, I would probably lock myself in a room and write my memoir, but I’m scared that I wouldn’t earn enough money while I was doing it. So i write almost a memoir via my blog, and I get paid really well for it.
And I love speaking, and I’d speak to large groups for free because it’s so fun. But I get paid $10K a speech if I talk about Generation Y, so I do that, even though, to be honest, I’m totally sick of talking about Generation Y and they are the most conservative, non-risktaking generation to come along since World War I and why can’t we stop doing speeches about them already?
So I think it’s totally disingenuous for anyone to answer this question with anything but “I get paid”. Because the difference between what we do for work and what we do because we love it is that we get paid. No one gets to do 100% of what they love for work. That’s not how the world works.
Those of us who are happiest in our work are getting paid to do something we really enjoy.
2) Jonathan Fields – Good Life Project
What Makes the Work You Do Worth It?
A few key elements make the work I do worth it.
First is a deep sense of alignment. I wake up every morning excited to create experiences and solutions that are organic extensions of who I am, what I care about and what people want, need and value. I feel like the work I do matters. To me and to the people I serve. And it lights me up along the way.
Second is the pursuit of craft and mastery. As a an author, entrepreneur, artist and web-producer, I spend much of my days pursuing craft and mastery. I geek out over language, twists of phrases, metaphors and storytelling that rises to the level of transcendence engine. I love the challenge of creating immersive experiences for clients, readers and customers that leave them in some way changed. Striving to solve complex problems and teaching people how to do the same makes me giddy.
Whether I ever achieve that elusive state of mastery isn’t so much the point, but the quest, the journey, the voracious seeking after the craft is something that pulls me to do more of what I do.
Third, it’s about the people. I’ve launched, built and sold a few companies and am current building a number of global digital tribes and ventures. People often ask what the best part of entrepreneurship is. Is it the money? The freedom? The glory? It’s not any of those, most of which take an insane amount of work and years to come if they ever do.
The real magic lies the opportunity to hand pick the people you surround yourself with and cultivate a culture of joy, respect, service, delight, connection and impact. You get to build a hive of people you can’t get enough of, and that makes a huge difference in the way you experience each day.
Last thing, family is the heartbeat of everything. I’ve worked to build my career in a way allows me to be deeply present in the lives of my wife and daughter and also take care of myself (still a work in progress, lol). Because, it’s not enough to be physically there, but checked out or so sick and burnt that I’m not really there. I want to be physically, emotionally and spiritually present, which means creating time for the self-care needed to build this foundation.
This list is by no means all-inclusive, but it contains the big rocks for me, the things that make the work I do worth it.
The Commitment Engine is due in stores in October and I’ll certainly offer my share of promotional opportunities over the next 6-8 weeks, but today I simply want to ask you to share your story. Click here to share your story.
(Small Business Marketing Expert)
I’ve been asked by a consulting group to present ideas on marketing to an audience that will consist of IT managers for professional services organizations. Now, some of you might wonder what these folks need with marketing – in fact, some in the audience might wonder the same thing.
Here’s my take though. Every department in an organization has objectives to meet. Maybe in the case of IT department it’s increased productivity, lower costs, greater automation, security or better inventory management.
So, let’s say that the CEO charges the IT Department with finding and installing a new CRM system for sales and marketing to use. All of the sudden the IT Department’s objectives intersect squarely with two other departments – two other departments that have been down this road before and may have no interest in playing.
This is where effective marketing comes into play. In most every organization the scenario above is doomed to fail, because there’s no alignment. IT tells people, here’s what we are doing and here’s what you are going to do. It’s like running a tiny ad for a very expensive and complicated product and expecting people to line up to buy it. There’s no alignment of objectives.
Marketing creates alignment.
What if the IT Department created a very marketing like process that was based on building the kind of trust required to get total buy in, loyalty and even evangelism for their objectives?
What if the internal IT Department built an internal marketing campaign based on the 7 stages of what I call The Marketing Hourglass?
What if the marketing plan for the internal project addressed the logical stages of know, like, trust, try, but, repeat and refer before any roll out meetings ever occurred?
So, going back to our fictional new CRM installation, the IT Department’s road map might look more like this.
Know – Schedule interviews with users of the software from other companies to understand highs and lows of the process. Schedule interviews with potential internal users to understand what currently works and doesn’t work.
Like – Put together peer 2 peer panel with sales and marketing folks from companies currently using the software and internal sales and marketing folks to discuss CRM and technology challenges as a whole.
Trust – Identify internal champions that are vocal about the needs for the new CRM tool and include them in vendor discussions and planning path.
Try – Create beta user groups with exclusive access to the planning process and input in the building. Publicize this beta group’s activity and timeline.
Buy – Let beta group train and evangelize on the functionality. Create orientation materials featuring tips and traps from the beta group.
Repeat – Aggressively measure and report improvements in every key performance indicator and release new and more advanced feature to the beta and champion group. Fix what’s not working.
Refer – Gather testimonials from all users and allow beta and champion groups to promote others within the organization into the champion group. Hold champion user group events.
Certainly this takes far greater coordination, but it’s just a plan.
You see, meeting objectives in IT, Finance, Management, Marketing HR, every department, is just good marketing when it comes right down to it.
(Small Business Marketing Expert)