RockinChrome Is Here: My Dark, Three Column Free Theme Released

I’m finally releasing another free WordPress theme called RockinChrome

It’s a dark and sleek, three column theme, with black, grey and red colors … with some advanced features included to customize it just the way you want it.

Here’s a screenshot:

dark free wordpress theme

Key features:

  • Dark theme with grey and red accents
  • Custom PSD graphic files included
  • Three columns
  • Widget ready

Take this theme for a test spin here (demo)
Download this theme here

This is the support post for this theme. Please report all theme-related problems, including the site URL, browser used and any other pertinent information in the comments.

The First 5 Essential Tweaks I Do in a WordPress Blog Installation

Smashing Magazine just asked for reader’s best WordPress tutorial ideas and so I’m going to unveil the first five essential tasks/tweaks I do whenever I set up a WordPress blog …

Here goes … Five Essential Tweaks For Your WordPress Blog Install

1. Install the Google Sitemap Plugin and link to it in my footer. If I could only do one tweak, this would be it.

2. Activate the Askimet Plugin — If you don’t, plan to be wading in comment spam. Somehow the spammers REALLY know how to find a way to get that spam junk into your blog.

3. Burn the Feed — with Feedburner of course. I failed to do this with my very first blog, then I ended up moving blog platforms and lost some readers and momentum in the process. With Feedburner, if you ever move, it’s a quick tweak in one place and everybody gets updated to the new feed automatically.

4. Change the Permalinks Structure — I use this format … /%postname%/ … I use the category slug so I can optimize my post titles with keywords that I won’t or don’t include in post titles. My friend Brian Gardner puts a .htm also at the end, which I’m experimenting with as well. My theory is that in search results some people might see the .htm and think there’s actual content in that link. Jury’s still out on that one. Update: I initially included the Category in the permalink structure, but have now switched my thinking on that … I only use the PostName in the Permalink Structure. Putting the Category in the Permalink causes some headaches and makes for longer URLs.

5. Use a Contact Form Prominently — I’ve seen it dramatically increase my correspondence with both my customers and readers. See mine in action here. I use this Contact Form plugin and it’s been extremely reliable. Some of my friends use this one.

OK, that’s it … at least the first essential tweaks and changes I do for a new WordPress blog.

For other posts like this, see the Advice I Give My Clients category.

Following Up with Unverified Email Subscribers

Darren has a great tip in his post about how to increase RSS subscribers.

He suggests following up with those who have subscribed via email to your feed but who have not verified their subscription.

This is excellent advice for those who have any kind of email subscription database. With the opt-in requirements for email newsletters now in place by all respected email companies, I’ve noticed that a certian percentage who sign up for my email newsletters don’t end up verifying it for whatever reason.

Darren said on his Digital Photography School list he had around 800 unverified subscribers.

Wow. Now if I had THAT many sitting there unverified I’d definitely follow up with them.

Why Turning Off Your Blog’s Comments Function Could Be a Good Thing

About two months ago, I got so frustrated with the comments function on my blog that I decided to turn them off.

Yep. One big machete-like chop and they were gone and with them went … a lot of grief and anguish and irritation.

[Cue big sigh of relief!]

Anyway … I just remembered one very neat benefit of doing that … besides the peace of mind I had thinking I didn’t have to deal with the wierdos who decided to lob unwarranted negativism my way or the self-promoters who merely wanted to advertise their product or service or the suffocating spam I received.

One cool, positive result of turning off those comments was … people took the conversation to their own blogs and linked to my post in their comments.

In other words … it promoted the conversation, only on their own virtual real estate … and in return I got an inbound link out of it.

Now … this is not for everyone. But it could be free you up to concentrate on what you do best … writing great blog content.

I choose to do it on mine because, despite increased traffic, only on rare occasions did my posts spur on a good conversation. I realized I had about 6 people who participated in the conversation, but mostly … they came by to offer encouragement or say “great post.” And they could do that by email anyway. And the time I spent weeding out the junk or self-promoters was distracting me from my goals and strategies.

So I think you gotta decide … is the comments function on your blog worth it?