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September 14, 2007

Newsletter to Blog: Converting to Blog Posts Part I

Continuing with this newsletter-to-blog series, working through the newsletter format to separate Pages and blog posts, and the blog post categories brought up some interesting challenges, but we solved these carefully and pragmatically. Everything was going smoothly as they started to copy and paste newsletter content into blog Pages and posts – well, at least in the beginning.

The next challenge was to convert the newsletter content from word processing and desktop publishing programs into blog posts. This had me relearning some of the very basics of blogging – some that hadn’t even occurred to me – and the newsletter team being introduced to some of the difficulties that come when switching your head from desktop publishing to web publishing.
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September 13, 2007

Newsletter to Blog: Establishing The Post Categories

Continuing this series on converting a newsletter into a blog, now that the business women’s newsletter team had conquered converting their newsletter into a blog by sorting out the material for Pages for reference, and had started getting a handle on how to create blog posts from the newsletter content, it was time to tackle post categories.

The newsletter team and board of directors was thrilled with the idea of increasing the value of their past reports and articles by making them easier to access through blog navigation and categorization. This put even more importance on choosing the right category names.
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September 12, 2007

Newsletter to Blog: Turning Article and Reports Into Blog Posts

Honestly, I thought that explaining Pages to the membership association I was working with to convert their newsletter into a blog would be challenging – I never realized that most of our trouble would be with the issue of publishing posts.

To review, on a blog, a Page is a pseudo-static web page that holds reference and timeless information. A post is like an article which is published within a categorized chronological structure, the most recently published post at the top, and the “old news” below.

The first question I had to answer was “Where do the old posts go?”
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September 11, 2007

Converting a Newsletter Into a Blog

I was recently approached by a professional membership organization about turning their newsletter into a blog. Thinking the task would be easy, I agreed. With 20/20 hindsight, I think I gained more insights and benefits the conversion process than they paid for.

Newsletters graphic - copyright Lorelle VanFossenMany bloggers have or are adding newsletters to their blogs, expanding their publicity and access beyond their blog. My challenge was to think in the reverse: Take a long-established newsletter and turn it into a blog.

Arrogantly, I assumed that the structure of their newsletter would make the process of conversion to blog format much easier. After all, they have a regular structured format, categorized and redundantly published information each month, and they are a structured organization. This should be a breeze.

It wasn’t.

Over the next week or so, I’m going to share with you the lessons I learned converting a traditionally formatted membership newsletter into a blog. Hopefully, you will learn more about how you blog, what you blog, and how to categorize and structure your blog’s information in the process.
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August 23, 2007

WordPress For Small Business – A “Revolutionary” New Theme

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It’s no secret that businesses can benefit from blogging. Regularly updated content keeps the reader interested in what’s going on, gives them a sense of accessibility to the business, and can mean return visitors and potentially clients. But one of the challenges to blogging for your business is the choices you have to make when stepping out. What platform should I use? Should I go with a free theme, or have a custom theme developed?

I like WordPress. I really like WordPress. And strangely enough, there are countless small to medium business owners who are still unaware that WordPress can not only fill their blogging needs, but also serve as a fantastic platform for updating their website as well. The technical phrase for it is a “Content Management System” or CMS. Using WordPress as a CMS isn’t terribly difficult, especially since WordPress was one of the first blogging platforms to use a “page” system where static content could be published. read more

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August 17, 2007

Performancing Announces News Theme

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Each month, Performancing releases professionally-designed and developed free themes for WordPress. For this August, the team chose News Theme, a two-column layout developed in cooperation with Design Disease and produced by Soccerlens.

The theme intends to mimic the look and feel of a print magazine or newspaper, with paper-like upper and lower edges, which is quite suitable for blogs that want to put forth a newspaper-y type of image (aided by the display of the current date on the masthead).

The color scheme uses subtle shades of grey and blue, with the sidebar standing out with orange tints.

News Theme is a two-column theme with a horizontal navigation bar at the header, and space for details and links at the footer. This gives the site a clean look and feel, with a wide fixed-width main body and a sidebar wide enough to accommodate long link text or banners. The space on the header can also be used for horizontal banners.

As with other Performancing theme for WordPress releases, Performancing offers official support for the News theme via the support forums. Theme download and demo are available at the Performancing WordPress Themes site.

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July 12, 2007

Browser Specific Style for your WordPress Theme

Have you ever been developing a WordPress theme, making it look all pretty, cleaning up your code, and getting all the loose ends tied up … then, you fire up your test browsers and notice that things don’t look quite as good as you thought they did? If you’re like me, you use FireFox, and as any good CSS guru will tell you, FireFox and IE can interpret the same code quite differently.

So, you’re forced to either employ hacks like the star-html hack to compensate for IE6’s shortcomings.

But recently, Microsoft has started recommending that instead of using inline hacks in the main stylesheet, you should use contitional comments to specify browser specific stylesheets. It looks a little something like this: read more

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July 6, 2007

Don’t Show Me the Same List Twice

If you’re like the thousands of other bloggers out there, when you first started your blog, you went to the theme viewer or did a google search for free WordPress themes and found yourself something that you liked. Personally, I’m not a fan of themes that display the seemingly endless list of full articles right there on the homepage. I’d much rather see a couple of feature stories, and a list of either older stories, or a list of categories that I can browse through. But alas, even the free themes I’ve released have had the endless, reverse-chronological list of stories with full text and a “previous – next” link at the bottom.

And this is the case for most of the free themes out there.

What’s even funnier is the fact that some bloggers/theme designers put a list in a sidebar called “recent stories/articles”.

What?! You mean that not only do I get the long list of stories on the homepage, but I’m also getting another list in the sidebar with the exact same list? Seems like a waste of real estate, huh?

But it doesn’t have to be. By implementing this simple trick, you can change the sidebar information to display only a list of stories that are older than the stories on the homepage. Here’s how…
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July 5, 2007

The best time of the day to publish a post

A popular question among serious bloggers is “When is the best time to publish a post?”. Lorelle had previously touched on this topic, but she concluded that there can be no definitive answer.

I believe that you should keep things as simple as possible, and as such, in my opinion, the best time to publish posts are early in the morning.

Of course, this also depends on the timezone in which the majority of your readers are from; you want to try and publish a post in the morning of when your readers in the most earliest timezone wake up. This means that if you have a large Australian following on your blog, and you were from the United States, then you’d publish a post a lot earlier to synchronize with their morning.

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Theme Sponsorship at Performancing

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Last April, I wrote about sponsored WordPress themes, in light of Blogging Pro’s release of their InSense theme with a sponsored link at the footer (but not a required link, as users can take it out). Performancing has also been exploring this business model, with the recent PhotoPress theme, recent announcement that sponsorship for News Theme, the Performancing Theme slated for release this coming August has opened, with $500 as the starting bid.

We are now taking bids for the August 2007 Performancing Theme sponsorship. Bids start at $500.

To give you a sense of the value of a sponsorship, take our first sponsor, Fusilly T-Shirts for the Photopress Theme. That theme has only been released for about three weeks, and yet a search on the linked keyphrase “funny t-shirt” brings Fusilly up on the front page of the Google SERPS (as of this writing). That’s a relatively high-competition keyphrase placing on the front page relatively quickly.

Performancing cites the SEO benefit as the main come-on for sponsors. You get your choice of link URL and anchor text to include. However, there are no 100% guarantees (as with most search-optimizing techniques, in my opinion). Still, with a clean-looking Design Disease creation like the News Theme (click for live demo) I can say the theme will be popular among bloggers who wish to establish a serious and professional look for their blogs.

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