Archive for Blog Design – Page 2

Mom Entrepreneurs: Use a WordPress Blog to Help Sell Your Products

In recent months, two of my family members – both mothers and budding entrepenurs – are looking to start websites to sell their unique products. In both cases, I’ve encouraged them to use WordPress blogs to run their sites.

Here’s four reasons why mom entrepreneurs should take a look at using WordPress to run their websites:

1. They can easily sell your products using plugins like this. Get a PayPal account and integrate it into your blog.

2. They can get found and ranked in the search engines faster. Google and WordPress love each other. And with some of these essential tweaks you can help them start talking. Additionally, leverage the power of an actual blog on your site to create quality and regularly updated content, something Google looks for.

3. They can make it easy on themselves to update and maintain your site. A while back I gave my 8 reasons why I love WordPress … but simply put: A website powered by WordPress puts the power back in your hands to keep your website fresh.

4. And the bottomline is: They can do all this … affordably. Quality web hosting and a domain name can be purchased for less than $70 a year.

PLUS: Check out our Ecommerce WordPress Themes for a WP template designed for an online storefront!

Portfolio: Designing a Real Estate Technology Blog

Last month, we had the opportunity to design the Geek Estate Blog, a real estate technology news blog for vendors and professionals, which was founded by Zillow.

Here’s a screenshot with a link to visit the blog:

real estate technology blog

Drew Meyers of Zillow commissioned me to design the blog and we collaborate on its design and function.

Here’s a description of the blog:

The Geek Estate Blog is a “resource for real estate professionals who want to learn more about how they can grow their business through smart use of technology. As the name implies, this blog’s varied authors are geeks – people with experience providing technology services to the real estate industry — they understand technology and how it can work for you. Topics discussed here could range from a review of the latest cell phone to Web site tips for search engine optimization (SEO).”

The thing that sticks out to me is how fast this blog got loaded with great content in its niche. Drew recruited some great writers for this multi-author blog.

Why Individual Post Pages Might Be Your Most Important Design Element

Your blog’s design is important. It needs to function properly. It needs to look pleasing and showcase your content. It also need to work for you – meaning, it needs to push your audience toward your goals.

So here’s a bold statement: Your individual blog post pages might be the most important design element on your blog.

Here’s why …

Judging from the largest two blogs I personally control and run, individual post pages (also known as “single posts”) are, by far, the largest content destination … NOT their respective home pages.

Granted, home pages and direct traffic still account for a significant amount of a blog’s traffic and is also the single largest “page” on most sites.

However … looking at my blog stats, an overwhelming majority of people find my sites through search engines or links from other blogs or sites, which all point to … single posts.

(I talked about this some of this in my post titled, The Long Tail of Blogging.)

Therefore, your single post page design may be the most important design elements on your site.

A large percentage of your site guests aren’t arriving on your blog on the home page for their vital first impressions. They are, likely, arriving on these individual post pages.

For this reason, I beef up my single post pages on all my blogs.

Here are some things you can do to ensure your guests do what you want them to do and find what you want them to find:

  • Email newsletter subscription form – This is the chief strategy I urge my clients to do. Why? Because if a site guest lands on an interior page on your blog (which the chances are they will), and they find great content that they are looking for, then you have already qualified them to opt-in to whatever offer you present at the end of that post. This one tweak has benefited me (and my goals) greatly.
  • Feed Button – Yes, this might be an extension of the first one, but it’s still worth a mention. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest putting a HUGE feed button, but simply show that little orange button somewhere. My assumption is that you probably don’t even have to say “This is my feed.” Those who know what feeds are will know what to do with that orange button.
  • Related Posts List – Today, this is almost standard practice for serious bloggers. Along with my email subscription form, I experiment with switching places every so often with the Related Post list and Email Form.
  • Advertisements – I’m not talking about AdSense, but ads touting YOUR products or services. And if I’m announcing a new product or service, I will often place a nice little graphical ad above the items I’ve already talked about in order to push it more.

Four Ways Book Authors and Writers Can Improve Their Sites

Recently, I’ve come upon a couple of writer/author websites that contain excellent content, but lack an effective design that could help take their websites and books to the next level.

And I think blogs, in particular, those run by WordPress, are easy, affordable tools for marketing your book and writing skills and niche to a worldwide audience.

Here are some ideas for designing a better author/writer website:

1. FOCUS ON THE BOOK.

Obviously, all book authors want to sell books. But what I’m talking about here is showcasing the book and its contents in ways that actually SELL the book.

As an author, your book should be an integral part of the design, not an afterthought.

You should also include downloadable and easy-to-print resources related to your book, such as a table of contents, excerpts or sample chapters and a question and answer session for the press and your readers.

Penelope does this really well … and Amazon has been doing this for years … and I might add: for good reason.

From my own book-buying experience, I want to look through these resources as it helps me decide whether or not the book is worth my money. The “free offer” is an age-old marketing technique … authors should be using this more to sell their books.

2. PUSH PEOPLE TO AN EMAIL NEWSLETTER.

Email newsletters are integral parts of my blogging strategy. I push all my clients to start email newsletters for a number of reasons.

Email newsletter are beneficial to authors and bloggers because::

They make your website or blog sticky. Blog stats only tell you where your readers are from. With an email newsletter, you can know their name or any other information you request.

They boost return traffic to your website. I call this residual traffic. There is still a major portion of the blog-reading world that doesn’t know how to operate that big, orange feed button. They don’t know how to use a feedreader. But most do know how to subscribe to an email newsletter. Building a good email newsletter database and then sending them a regular, value-packed email newsletter, listing some of the best content you’ve added recently is a great way to get them to come back to your site.

Publishers must love them. I’m not a book author, but I have to believe that pitching your first or even second book to a publisher and being able to tell them you have 2,000 people subscribed to your email newsletter (which you control) is going to help sell your book proposal. It shows you’ve done work to build a platform in which to sell your book.

Check out how New York Times columnist and book author Marci Alboher talks about how she used an email newsletter to help promote her book and tour.

By the way, I suggest Aweber’s excellent email newsletter solution to all my clients and use it myself.

3. SHOWCASE YOUR QUALITY CONTENT.

When I first started this website back in 1999, I had to do all the heavy lifting of updating my site as I added new content. But with blog software, it instantly took all this and put it all at the click of a “Publish” button so that I could concentrate on writing, instead of maintenance.

You don’t even have to call it a “blog” … just use the free technology to produce an “articles” section of your site. And with WordPress Pages you can use it as a content management system to manage your entire website.

Using blog software, you have an easy way to archive, search, tag your great content and keep readers coming back for more … or help sell your book.

One of the best at this is Tom Peters.

4. PACKAGE IT ALL IN AN ATTRACTIVE DESIGN.

There is something to say for a well-thought-out web design for authors and writers that incorporates the previous three suggestions.

A professional web design helps sell your book. It gives off a good impression to your book buyers that your book is worth the retail price.

The design is the gift wrap for your book. And, in my humble opinion, that gift wrap is a valuable marketing investment.

How Real Estate Agents Can Use WordPress: A Real Estate WordPress Theme

In order to demonstrate how WordPress could be used by real estate agents and brokers, we decided to drum up a demo version … here’s a screenshot that’s linked to a live demo of our Real Estate WordPress Theme.

Here are a couple of reasons we think a custom WordPress theme would be a good solution for real estate agents:

  • Affordable, really affordable — Compare to the cost of typical website design, and a custom WordPress theme is extremely affordable
  • Easy to use and update — WordPress is extremely easy to use and update, allowing the agent to be control of his/her content
  • Capitalize on local search — Because of WordPress’s ability to get your blog/site indexed quickly, you can focus on funneling those local search inquiries straight to your site

These are just a couple of reasons … check out our Real Estate WordPress Theme here.