Welcome To WordPress
It should come as no surprise that WordPress is the dominant blogging platform on the web. According to the latest BuiltWith statistics, WordPress has over a 50% market share of Content Management Systems (CMS) with the second-place contender, Drupal, holding onto almost 3%. That’s a no-contest race right there.
The world of eCommerce is largely powered by content marketing, with WordPress being the most common method of delivering that content. So WordPress, it could be said, is the bedrock of the web, and a fundamental understanding of the blogging platform determines your success in this industry.
Luckily, WordPress itself isn’t that hard to figure out. If you’ve used basic office tools before, WordPress is built with you in mind. You can see each individual blog post as a document which you publish in succession, like a journal. The simple post editor has the standard formatting options with a few extra perks.
WordPress itself has a great resource on their official website for tutorials in the initial setup. While they do offer on-site hosting, it is far more common to give WordPress software a home on your own domain. Web hosting is dirt-cheap, you can always find specials like this Hostgator discount, and even the most minimal website install will sling a cPanel and WordPress install your way.
Hosting your own domain gives you more control over identity branding, integration with the rest of your site such as Shopping Cart apps, control over security and access, and ease of use. All of the tutorials there are free of charge.
For moving beyond basic installs, here’s a recent list of 40 WordPress tutorials for everything from monetizing your blog to customizing its look to adding features. There’s also WPBeginner for the latest tips, tricks, and hacks. Since WordPress is such a popular platform in great demand, you will find no shortage of coverage and documentation. There’s even a YouTube channel with WordPress tutorials.
We should inject a note of caution here: It’s tempting to many beginners to add every shiny toy to WordPress you can. That’s fine, there are so many cool plugins out there that you could spend a lifetime exploring them. Just remember the rule of thumb that every plugin you install can slow down WordPress.
Limit yourself to a few essential plugins and research a plugin thoroughly before installing it, because many of them are third-party developed and programming can be sloppy on the uninstall option, to the effect of leaving junk files scattered around your system even after changing your mind. It’s quality over quantity when it comes to plugins.
Now That You Have WordPress, What Do You Do With It?
This is the part where we recommend you hire a professional freelance blogger. By the way, have you noticed that articles like this one are always written by freelance bloggers? You’re obviously not here for that, but for the record, a content provider is at least worth consulting. Content providers are much cheaper than you think and can take a huge load off your mind while you run the rest of your eCommerce business.
Not everybody is cut out to hatch up creative ideas and use them to lure in an audience. We just want to put that disclaimer up front. Don’t hate yourself if you sit down in front of WordPress and go blank. You have an out.
OK, the disclaimer is over!
The fact is, for the large percentage of online businesses, content for the blog is going to be pretty basic. Nobody expects William Shakespeare on a blog; Shakespeare wouldn’t get out of bed for this kind of money anyway.
Start by thinking about your content goals:
- You’re here to market a product, service, or other business.
- Ask “Who are my customers?”
- Now ask “What do my customers want to see?”
- Provide that.
The more niche your market, the less you have to worry about being a wildly talented writer. If you’re marketing a common commodity (food, for instance), there’s huge competition for it, so it takes a rock star blogger to stand out. If your business is selling rubber grips for industrial forklift levers, you could pretty much put anything up there. It doesn’t matter if you’re not entertaining to read, as long as you pop to the top of search results from your published text.
Speaking of search engines…
You’re Overthinking SEO!
This is the part that everybody has a panic attack about, which comes as no surprise because the industry is a mess. SEO – Search Engine Optimization – is the single most industry that talks the most and says the least. For 99.99% of every self-publishing niche blog out there, here is all you have to do to optimize your content to be search-engine friendly:
#1: Is your site reasonably easy to navigate enough that a web crawler can follow links from page A to page B? (The answer here is yes unless you did something mighty weird).
#2: Does your content include a reasonable mention of your product or service and topics related to it?
#3: If your service or product is locale-dependent, does it make mention of your local area here and there?
Yes? Good, we’re ready! Throw away the huge charts of keyword percentages, ignore the SEO wonks who make a complicated brain surgery science out of it, don’t give it another thought. You can come back to it later, and you will have to anyway, because it doesn’t matter how scientifically formulated your content is, for the first year perfect optimization is going to make 0.00001% difference.
Again, this is in most cases. There are some fields where SEO is life and death. But for most cases, years of grinding and sweating over your formula will amount to the effort of the two extra blog posts you should have been writing.
Furthermore, the SEO field is composed of people who have no clue how outdated their advice is. It’s set up around manipulating Google into prioritizing your content in search results over a competitor. The trouble is that Google updates their algorithms regularly and doesn’t share what they change with the public. Here’s how you can confirm your SEO strategy: Post for a while (about three months), then check your site stats. Does the word “Google” appear in your referrer list? If yes, you’re good to go.
Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
Now for the gravy: A freelance writer’s secrets to how we come up with all this brilliant content.
- Research! Look up other blogs and websites in your field, and read their content. Do NOT steal their content, but use it as inspiration.
- Talk about why people need your service, product, or value. How are you solving a problem? What do you offer that your competitors don’t?
- Talk about your passion. Why are you in this business? What motivated you to provide this product? Why do you care?
- Imagine what your customers are thinking about five minutes before they shop for your product. If you sell biscuits, talk about tea sometimes. If you sell shower tile, talk about bathroom decorating sometimes. You get the idea.
- Pass along other media that talks about your field. See how we included a WordPress video channel up there?
- Keep an eye out for news stories related to your field. If you sell mosquito repellant, watch for mosquito season to come up and report on weather changes that affect the population.
- Give history lessons. When did the right circumstances come along for your product to be invented? What did people do before? Pass along funny anecdotes and interesting trivia here.
- Reach out to your community! Anybody who is not your direct competitor but related to your field is prime to invite for a guest post, an interview, or to present a cross-over promotion. Get linked and stay linked.
- Pass along jokes, memes, and various funny references to your field. You can find these by searching the web for your product term + one of “meme, funny, cartoon, joke.”
- Start a poll. Polls fill content during those dry gaps. You get a post to announce the poll, a post or two to remind visitors about the poll, a post to close the poll, and a post or more to share the results and talk about what they mean to your field.
- Provide peripheral services to your field. If you sell camping gear, publish maps and schedules for your local parks and recreational areas. Therefore always make it easier for your customers to enjoy what you do.
- Update your readers on new technology in your field. If a new version comes out, or there’s new scientific research, or some new discovery impacts it, that’s your story for today.
- Repeat yourself. Don’t worry about being redundant; the Internet has the collective memory of a goldfish.
Again, don’t overthink your content. A couple of paragraphs, as little as 500 words per post, should suffice for basic blogging. Sometimes even a couple sentences per post are certainly fine. You’re not going to win Nobel prizes for Literature, but you also don’t have to set the bar that high. Hence, if you can post on Facebook, you can post to a blog.
Was That So Hard?
Well, actually, yes it was. These are fine tips to get started, but after a year of writing a blog (or even a month for some people), you begin to see why hiring a freelancer is the way most businesses go.
It’s easy to burn out and run out of content ideas. It also takes discipline to provide fresh content on a regular basis. Nothing is so agonizing as to stumble upon a blog where the most recent post was months ago and begins “Sorry for not posting lately…”
But honestly, for a lot of small businesses, a little bit of blogging goes a long way. You might even be better at content marketing than you think you are!
Latest posts by Pete Trbovich (see all)
- WordPress Tips, Tricks, and Hacks for Quick Content Ideas - October 11, 2018
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