By Chanda Temple
Last summer, I attended a cool conference known as WordCamp Birmingham, which is sort of like a blogging bootcamp for WordPress users. And even though I didn’t have a blog at the time, I took enough notes to fill up a blog for days.
My biggest lesson from last year’s conference came when I heard someone say, “Stop waiting to get your website ‘pretty’ or ‘just right’ before you start blogging. It won’t happen, so you might as well get to writing now. The ‘pretty’ will come later.” (I launched my blog this summer, tweaking the look along the way. I think I used four themes before settling with the current one.)
Straight talk like that will likely be back this year when WordCamp Birmingham returns on Saturday, Aug. 16 at the Harbert Center in downtown Birmingham. Admission is $20. Sessions will focus on helping beginners set up their own website and give them tools to make it successful.
If you are new to blogging, you don’t want to miss the sessions, especially the 9:30 a.m. panel discussion with Karla Archer, Wade Kwon, Williesha Morris and moi. Wade will address marketing your blog, Karla will address blog design, Williesha will address blogging for pay and I’ll discuss creating content. It should be fun because these panelists have their pulse on the blogging world and WordPress. I’m just honored to be in their presence. (Go here to see the schedule.)
The panel and other speakers will offer helpful tips that you’ll cherish. I should know. I still have last year’s tips Karla, a Birmingham web designer and lifestyle blogger, gave on blogging. To get you prepped for Saturday, here’s some of her advice.
Make smart choices in blogging
Part of the reason to have a blog is to share info but to also make your business seem more accessible. Engage readers with comments.
It’s OK to explore something else to see if it will work. Maybe that will connect with readers/customers more. A lot of times, that’s when ideas come to you.
Make sure your website name represents you well
Look at your domain name. Write it in lowercase and in all caps and see what it looks like. What you see may surprise you. For example, there was this group called Pin Island. When they created a website address with just the company name, it looked like: pinisland.com.
Keep things organized
If your site is unorganized or you have listed categories that are not well thought out, that’s bad. Be honest about what you have to clean up and change to improve your blog.
Check out http://www.dontmakemethink.com
It’s a great resource and well written. It helps you understand how users tend to use sites, what they are looking at and how a site benefits from being well organized. It’s by Steve Krug.
What worked for your blog two years ago, may not work now. Don’t be afraid to update. Ask questions of readers and find out what they want. Also, let people know when you need help. Develop a community of folks you can go to when you need help to take your blog to the next level.
Your blogging is only going to be good as the experiences you have. You can’t blog about things you haven’t lived. Take time to rest, relax and recharge. It will improve your writing.
If you abhor writing, you won’t enjoy blogging. Write about something you enjoy. Remember why you started. Remember the passion.
Note: On Saturday, there will be three tracks of speakers covering topics from developing and designing themes and plugins for WordPress to covering the basics of SEO and driving traffic to your site.
The keynote address will be given by Jake Goldman from 10up, a company that creates websites for clients using WordPress. Jake will talk about the principles behind WordPress and what makes it the best publishing platform for the web today.
If that’s not enough to convince you, read Javacia Harris Bowser’s Five Reasons You Should Attend WordCamp Birmingham.
Chanda Temple worked as a reporter for 20 years before becoming a public relations professional. She blogs about being better in business and more athttp://www.chandatemplewrites.com. Follow her on Twitter at @chandatemple. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.