Category Archives: Wordpress

Topics relating to Wordpress, plugins, themes, optimizing etc

Top ways to promote your WordPress site

Someone once said about blogging: “never before have so many people said so much to so few”.  I find this quote hilarious because it really does capture a lot of blogs quite well.  What makes the internet so powerful is always what makes it so bloated.  The ability to broadcast information instantly and efficiently to as many people as may find the information valuable.  But information that nobody sees is useless.  That’s why a WordPress blogger needs to do more than write, they need to promote.

We all have dreams of content we write going viral, and our blogs gaining instant credibility, being read by millions every day.  But that happens to a tiny fraction of us.  The rest need to work tirelessly to write quality content and distribute it as widely as possible.  Here are some solid, white-hat methods for distributing content and promoting your WordPress site.

1.Write quality content!

I had to insert this one even though it is not a direct “promotional tool”.  I also listed this as the top method for promoting your WordPress site because I believe strongly that writing quality, unique and useful content is the most important step in creating a popular website.  If people find your content useful, they will share it among their network and promote it for you.

2. Guest blogging

This is one of the oldest tricks in the playbook, but it work.  Offer to create quality, unique content for similar websites.  Don’t fill the content with links back to your site, rather just one link in your author byline.  This method goes along with numbers 5 and 7, relating to building relationships with other WordPress sites.

By writing unique content for other websites, you are doing them a favor and building a long term connection that will benefit you over time.  They may offer to return the favor.  In the least, you will garner new readers from their traffic.

3. Promotions and Giveaways

I’ve done this a few times here on Pingable and other WordPress sites I run.  It is easy to set up a promotion and it generally works at building traffic and readers.  One method is to identify a resource you already have, such as a product or service, and give it away to a lucky visitor.  Another method is to partner with a member of the WordPress community, such as a theme producer, and give away someone else’s product.  They benefit with free publicity and the “winner” benefits by getting something for free.  It’s a win-win-win.

I have even done this with physical products on a non-WordPress site I run.  I worked out a deal with a manufacturer of tech accessories to give one of their products to a lucky reader.  People were entered into a drawing by liking my site on Facebook or following on Twitter.  I earned a lot of followers that month!

4. Submit content to social sharing sites

Some websites have sprung up in the last few years that are essentially clones of Digg, or vertical market within that focuses on a specific area such as WordPress.  These sites let you submit links to articles that visitors then vote up (or down) based on usefulness and appeal.  These sites can be useless or incredibly helpful.  Again, your content needs to be good or else your efforts on these websites will be for nothing.  Some examples of social sharing sites include:

5. Build relationships

Why on earth do you need to build a relationship with other (competing) websites?  Because even on the internet, relationships are everything.  Working together, two WordPress admins can boost traffic to both of their sites.  The first example of this is guest posting described above.  But two collaborating admins can also share links, swap ads, trade content, liven the comment discussions and offer tips and feedback.

I have been consistently surprised at the positive response I’ve received when blindly reaching out to webmasters who’s sites I liked.  People are often friendly and approachable, willing to talk about collaborations most of the time.  What types of collaborations?  How about joining forces?  One of the best ways to guarantee success is to combine your assets and time.

6. Offer a unique resource

This one is big.  I once ran a very small WordPress powered site (that I’ve since sold).  I made a couple hundred dollars writing some quality posts for a very popular site.  I took that money, and paid someone to develop a custom theme that I then gave away on my blog.  Not only did this garner new loyal readers, it raised the value of my site so that when the time came to sell, it was worth the normal price plus the value of the custom theme that came with it.

What’s also helpful about this strategy is the fact that people really have to link back to you, giving you credit.  You then become the resource everyone is talking about, instead of being one of the everyone talking about someone else’s resource.  Of course, people will steal the resource and not give you credit.  But those people far outweigh the honest ones.

7. Comment and interact with colleagues

This one is a great way to promote your site.  Let me be clear: this is not about plastering the internet with links to your blog.  This is about generating good, honest discussion.  Many websites allow you to insert a link with your username which is good.  But if you engage in healthy discussion about a topic related to your site, many people could see it and convert to readers.  Again, don’t spam, don’t simply comment for the sake of commenting.  Engaging in a friendly discussion and visitors will follow.

What did I miss?

There are thousands of ways to promote your WordPress site out there, which ones are your favorite?  Leave them in the comments below and I could add them to this post.

 

WordPress.com launches WordPress for Classrooms

WordPress.com has recently added a new vertical specifically aimed at the education sector called WordPress Classrooms. Many teachers will tell you that they have been using WordPress for some time for class blogs and for communicating with parents, however, this vertical includes some features that will make life much easier for teachers and students.

Privacy

Privacy is the number one factor for teachers looking at getting their content on the web. Particularly if the content includes photos or videos of kids. WordPress for Classrooms deals with this by giving users a range of privacy options, including keeping content from search engines, password protecting posts, or simply limiting posts to certain logged in users.

class_list

Themes

WordPress.com users can select from a list of predetermined themes, however, classroom users get access to a wider range of Education specific themes. Any user, can of course pay a small fee to use a custom theme. With the launch of Classrooms, WordPress have also released a new theme called Chalkboard, that would make a great template for a class blog. Check it out here.

chalk

With an emphasis on BYOD that many schools in developed countries seem to be moving towards, it makes a lot of sense for teachers to use blogs more often. If a student is sitting with an iPad or laptop on their desk, then blogging to WordPress will be a breeze. This is a great opportunity for teachers to give WordPress a try.

WordPress for classrooms also includes all the great features that other .Com users get, which make it an ideal classroom website option: Moderated and threaded comments, great media embedding options, simplicity and speed of publishing and all this is hosted in free package. Sounds like a winner to us. With an emphasis on BYOD that many schools in developed countries seem to be moving towards, it makes a lot of sense for teachers to use blogs more often. If a student is sitting with an iPad or laptop on their desk, then blogging to WordPress will be a breeze. This is a great opportunity for teachers to give WordPress a try. If you are involved in Education and want to check it out, jump over to WordPress.com Classrooms.

WordPress for iOS 3.4 update released

Automattic, the company behind WordPress has released an update to the WordPress iOS app: version 3.4. It now supports push notifications for events such as comments, likes, shares, new posts, and more. This feature should be great for keeping your comment moderation time down, and giving your blog a current/live feeling, as you will be able to approve comments in real time when using your phone. To gain access to the push notification feature on a self-hosted WordPress.org blog you will need to add the jetpack plugin.

Comment moderation has been greatly improved in this update also, allowing users to carry out all moderation tasks from one screen. This is a significant feature for user friendliness, and something I have been waiting for, for a long time, mostly because this is the type of task I think a phone or tablet is more useful for. It’s not likely that I will be writing entire posts on my iPhone, however, moderating comments when I have a free moment of two makes a lot of sense. So I am very pleased with this new feature.

The app is still missing a few key features. Most notability the option to search through old posts, thus allowing you to make quick edits or updates to existing posts.

Some of the reviews on iTunes are suggestion the new version is fairly unstable. What do you think of the new version?

You can download the app here.

WordPress 3.5 – What’s New?

With the launch of WordPress 3.5 immanent, I thought I would take some time to look at what some of the key features are, and highlight what we at Pingable think are the most interesting features.  WordPress.org’s timeline has it coming in on of the 5th of December.

A New Media Library Interface

A mockup screenshot floating around the internet shows what the new interface will look like:

screen_shot_media_library_mockup

The media uploader has also changed, and the icon that points to it will now be named: “Add Media”.

New Default Theme

Not many serious bloggers use the default theme in WordPress, but it is still a place to showcase new features. Twenty Twelve will feature some very cool options such as:

  • Home Page Template
  • Responsive + Mobile
  • Post Formats
  • Right-to-Left Language Support

A drop and drag widget interface for laying out the homepage is a nice feature for those using WordPress for more typical CMS purposes. Responsive themes have become very mainstream in 2012, with users viewing your WordPress sites, on a more diverse range of devices, responsive makes a lot of sense. We need to get onto this with the Pingable theme.

twenty-twelve-theme

oEmbeds Expanded

oEmbeds is a feature in the current WordPress release that enables you to embed content from popular sites into WordPress posts simply by pasting a URL from the page on the site you you want to embed. Currently oEmbeds supports YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, and Twitter. In 3.5 SlideShare, SoundCloud and Instagram will be supported. This feature will be turned on by default in WorPress 3.5.

Links Manager Demoted

The Links manager will no longer be included in new installs from 3.5 onward. The functionality will still remain for upgraded sites, and new sites will be able to add the links manger functionality in the form of a plugin. This is good idea. Not many sites have blog rolls these days, so it’s not a feature we find that useful.

Colour Picker

There is a new colour selector which looks pretty slick:

colourpicker

From a usability perspective, this looks great.

Favorite Plugins

This is a great feature for anyone who does a lot of WordPress installs. Using your WordPress.org credentials, you can create a list of your favorite plugins, then when installing a new site, you will be presented with this list, making it a very simple process to install all you standard, favorite plugins when setting up a new site. There are other solutions for this problem out there….eg: using FTP to keep a copy, then uploading…but this new option looks like a great feature for those not wanting tot deal with FTP clients etc.

Remote Publishing XML-RPC

XML-RPC is a feature that is been in WordPress for a long time. It is used by 3rd party apps, and publishing software such as Windows Liver Writer. This feature has always been disabled by default, due to security concerns. This is no longer the case, and this feature will be turned on be default now.

Retina

The admin interface now has support for retina screen, so it will look slick on your MacBook pro with retina screen.

Official Facebook WordPress Plugin Causes Serious Lag

For the last few weeks we have been trialing the official Facebook WordPress plugin. It seemed like a no brainier, adding some nice features including a nice widget the floats down the bottom of the page and encourages users to browse more content on your site that has been popular on Facebook. However, we have noticed on our setup that it was causing some serious issues.

  1. We had some heavy backend lag, and sometime backend pages wouldn’t even load, the comment moderation page seemed to be the worst.
  2. We noticed that the front end of the site was much slower to respond too. It seemed to double the response time of the site which floats around 400-500ms, and has been averaging over 1000ms since we enabled Facebook’s official WordPress plugin.


Pingdom Response time report

I guessing the conflict may be something to do with our setup. Pingable uses a MAXCDN to speed up file delivery, so it may be a conflict with that or the way we have W3 Total Cache configured. Either way…a slow site isn’t good enough, so the Facebook plugin is going for now.

I’d be curious to hear if others are having issues with the new Facebook plugin. A quick search on Google uncoverd a few others having the same issues as we are:

Win 1 of 3 Free Elegant Themes Memberships

This month we have 3 free Elegant themes memberships to give away. Just like the Pingable Facebook page to be in the draw.
Winners will be notified on the 20th of June. We will randomly select 3 people who have liked us on Facebook and contact you via facebook for your prize.

Check out our review of Elegant themes for more details on the service.

They are a fantastic themes club service, and if you are a web developer, or anyone who has ever needed a classy theme for WordPress, Elegant themes is a great value, quality service. For $39 you get access to a huge range of professional themes, the count currently sits at 76.

If you want to be in the draw jump over to the Pingable facebook page and click the like button.

Tumblr vs WordPress

Advantages of Tumblr

  • Social networking aspects – Tumlbr makes connecting via social media sites very easy
  • simplicity – Tumblr is very much an open and blog platform aimed at those that don’t want to know the guts of what is going on behind the scenes.
  • Easy management from your phone – The iPhone Tumblr app is much better than the wordpress one.
  • Can have you own domain – Tumblr still hosts it though….you can’t actually take your content else where like you can with a self hosted wordpress install.

Advantages of WordPress

  • The ability to be self-hosted – This is big. It costs, but means you actually have complete control of your content.
  • Large community with lots of addons & customization – The amount of free and premium WordPress themes and plugins is amazing. There is so much functionality in this regard.
  • Great for SEO – Because WordPress gives you more control over your platform, you can seriously optimize every aspect of your blog, from URL structure, meta tags, pinging, and internal links, right down to theme structure.

Reasons to use Tumblr

  • The thought of setting up and paying for hosting doesn’t appeal to you.
  • You want to be blogging right now, and you don’t want to worry about the technical side of things, you just want to get your thoughts out there, so others can connect.

Reasons to use WordPress

Obviously we are big fans of WordPress here at Pingable, we are a wordpress blog, and we blog about wordpress related content. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t recommend another platform if we thinks it’s better.  Wordpress is going to be the better platform for most blogging professional, and business bloggers. It gives you more control, and you own your content. Tumblr however, is probably a better platform for those looking for simplicity. It’s a great platform for beginners, and those of us less technology minded.

50 Minimalist WordPress Themes

Minimalist WordPress themes are everywhere.  But high quality minimalist themes are surprisingly hard to find.  I have often said that creating an elegant, minimalist theme is just as tricky as creating a flashy, complex themes.  Lucky for you, Pingable is really good at pulling together some super high-quality themes.  We also threw in some html templates for good measure.  Enjoy!

Core Minimalist Photography Portfolio

DigiFoto – Minimalist Photography Theme

Protein Clean and Minimalist for Business

Minimal Blog – WordPress Minimalist Theme

Minimalist Portfolio

5 WordPress Themes for Political Candidates

WordPress is a simple tool used by millions of webmasters.  Did you know Google has a whole department dedicated to political adword accounts?  We didn’t either until recently.

There are many political candidates using WordPress to manage their online presence.  As the United States Presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Howard Dean showed, the web is one of, if not the most important tool for political organizing.

Here are our picks for WordPress themes best suited for political applications.  The criteria we used to evaluate themes were:

  • Layout – political WordPress themes need to grab visitors’ attention quickly and convert visitors to action-takers.
  • Design – political WordPress themes send a message about an individual candidate.  They are not just a design, but a brand that must be sold.
  • Function – themes should have lots of room for widgets and sidebar content.
  • Integration – good political WordPress themes should integrate smoothly with social networking sites, social bookmarking, streaming media, Twitter and similar organizing tools.
  • Customizable – no political candidate should use an out-of-the-box theme without customizing it to fit their campaign, their constituency and their message.

Update: Here are some new WordPress Political Themes for 2011 2012.  Enjoy!

Update to the update: Since this post was originally written, there have been many more political WordPress themes developed.  We just removed a couple outdated/no longer supported themes, and added some very cool new ones.  Check them out below!

Campaign <– My new favorite!

Campaign is my new favorite because of the look and feel, and built in functions.  This theme is fully translatable, and comes in 4 color schemes so it’s good for any political perspective.  It comes with some cool jQuery powered hover effects and a neat slider.  It also has support for multimedia including Vimeo.  Like any good WordPress political theme, it has great styling for email capturing and event management.  What’s more, the latest update makes this theme fully responsive so it looks good on all devices.  An optional donate button can be set up with any payment gateway as well.  The designers thought of everything, even the FEC elections disclaimer (for those in the United States).

campaign wordpress theme

Candidate

Candidate was built as both a political campaign WordPress theme, but also a social issue/grassroots campaign theme.  The designers claim to have experience building real political themes, and their design suggests they’re telling the truth.  Although not as trendy a design as Campaign, this one is definitely a good choice.

Politico

Politico is a straight WordPress theme that you can customize to add features common on political websites such as donation widgets and signup forms.  Lots of buyer feedback suggests folks are really happy with this theme.  Also, this theme has a strong media slider which is important for political campaigns that need to showcase their candidate kissing babies and such.

Victory Framework

The Victory Framework is essentially a theme, with tons of built-in features.  It is an out-of-the-box website for political campaigns that only needs basic information to go live.  Of course, any candidate would need to make it their own before launching officially.  But it includes all the basic functions of a political website.  This is one of two complete campaign packages.victory framework wordpress political theme

Win With WordPress

This is also a highly-evolved WordPress Political Theme.  It has built in features underneath a political design.  It also boasts contact management features which is a plus for any campaign.  Rather than signing people up for email lists, you can turn them into advocates and constituents.

win with wordpress political theme

Who’s Who @ Elegant Themes

Who’s Who is a clean, multi-level navigation theme with not a lot of options, but the right framework.  If your campaign is purely informational, this theme will do great.  It also has multiple color options so you don’t have to go blue.

Whos Who Political WordPress Theme

 Politic @ ThemeForest

This theme comes with 9 custom widgets and is one of the most professional political/campaign themes available without going completely custom.  The theme supports 5 different post formats and audio/video.  Here’s what’s extra cool: this political WordPress theme supports BuddyPress!  This means you can easily build a community on your site with chat, forums, connections, messages and more.  Politic has a custom skin for the Events and WP Email Capture plugins which are very helpful tools for political campaigns.

Compositio @ Design Disease – FREE!

A cool blue theme with a design that never seems to get old.  This isn’t a new theme, but it seems to always look stylish even as design trends change.  I like the blocky design and clear, simple navigation.  For a not-too-complex political WordPress site, this theme would be perfect.