WordPress For Business Bloggers

WordPress is the most popular web software used for content management today. One of the reasons for this is the low barrier to getting started. WordPress is not only free, but it is easy to use and there are tons of resources available for theming and WordPress 3 For Business Bloggers book and eBookexpanding a website. But, that ease of use and over abundance of resources can also work against the new user. While the first blog is quick to setup, where do you go from there? How do you make the site your site? How do you get people to visit, engage them once they are there, and get them to come back? And how do you even know about all this? These questions are what Paul Thewlis tries to answer in his book WordPress 3 For Business Bloggers. Note that this is a new and updated edition of his book that was published in 2008.

The publishers, Packt Publishing, sent me a copy of the book for review, and it had the honor of being the first book I read on my new Kindle. One of the things I really like about books from Packt is that they are available in multiple formats including print, PDF, ePUB, and Amazon’s MOBI format.  But, back to the book itself.

WordPress 3 For Business Bloggers is well suited as an introduction to what can be done with a WordPress blog for most people. It succeeds in taking the new user beyond the initial install into the world of plug-ins and theme customization. While I am not really fond of the chapter on HTML and altering themes, I can see the necessity of familiarizing yourself with it. I just think that it is too much for most people and too prone to error. Seriously, you are better either in the hands of a real designer or finding a theme that doesn’t need behind the scenes tweaking.

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Podcast Episode 005: Blogging for Business

The Social Media Monster PodcastEpisode 5 of The Social Media Monster podcast is the presentation on Blogging for Business by Heather Solos at the Charleston County Public Library’s Small Business and Not-For-Profit Networking Lunch.

The slides for this presentation, which include the URLs for the resources mentioned, are available in a previous post and on SlideShare.

Sites Mentioned

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Collapse Of Distinction

Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails by Scott McKain is exactly the book that anyone involved in running a business should be reading right now. McKain, who is Vice Chairman of Obsidian Enterprises, recently named one of the “fastest growing public companies” in the country, cuts a clear path through all the marketing claptrap to arrive at what is really the problem with most of today’s businesses – a lack of distinction.

collapse_of_distinctionWhy would you have any loyalty to a store, restaurant or other business when their only point of differentiation is pricing. As soon as the price changes, the customer moves on. And the price will always change because there is always someone willing to sell a little cheaper, cut a few more corners, or take a bit less profit. Where loyalty and longevity are established is through our points of differentiation.

Not only does Scott McKain make it clear, through repeated interesting and insightful examples, that we currently have this problem, he suggests way in which we can combat the problem. His four “Cornerstones of Distinction” provide methodologies that someone in any business, or even personal endeavor, can use to separate themselves from the pack, create interest from the customer, and then concentrate on that customer experience to build loyalty. This works in service industries, sales, consulting, and even civic organizations.

Something else that is as almost as exciting the book itself is the distribution method. With this book, Thomas Nelson Publishing launches what they are call “NelsonFree”. What this means is that when you purchase the physical book, you also get access to it in electronic and audio format. So, you could read the paper version by your bedside, keep the electronic version on your iPhone or Kindle for reading on the train, and then have the audiobook format available for listening to while driving. The additional formats are just a simple and free download from the web. This is revolutionary and could, if it becomes widespread, dramatically increase the spread of alternative forms of reading.

So, all together, Collapse of Distinction is an very worthwhile book that can help you see your business through not only during these tough economic times, but through the “normal” times as well. In addition, with one person you get to pick whatever format makes you happy – or choose them all. A great deal by any standard.

Note: The publisher gave me a copy of this book for the purpose of. There were no strings attached, and that gratis review copy in no way swayed my opinions towards this work.

Software and Hardware for Non-Profits

If you are involved with a not-for-profit or charity organization of any sort, from school or church to community outreach or civic charity, you know how tight funding can be and how hard it can be to get the computer equipment and software that you need. What you probably didn’t know is that companies like Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec, and Intuit donate millions of dollars in software to organizations just like yours. The problem is just getting your hands on it. That is where TechSoup comes in.

TechSoupTechSoup is an organization dedicated to getting software and hardware to the not-for-profit organizations who need it. They process the requests, do most of the legwork, and get you what you need to get your mission accomplished. Think of this, Microsoft Office for the Mac is normally between $150 and $250. For the processing and licensing fee of $16, your non-profit can get a copy that was donated by Microsoft. Adobe Illustrator, the vector based graphics program, normally would cost you about $300 to $400. The administration fee for Adobe Illustrator is just $55.

And TechSoup can also help you get hardware and training. If you look on their site you will find everything from training material teaching you how to use the technology to discussion boards where other nonprofit organizations help each other. Recent posting have covered topics as diverse as electing the right accounting program for a church to how to reduce paper use to control costs and how to write a grant proposal to get new camera equipment for schools.

The resources are out there. If you are a non-profit, you can’t afford not to check them out. And while you are on the site, subscribe to their newsletter! It is stocked full of great tips, recent offerings, and the latest news.