The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

WordPress adds Reblog button June 7, 2010

Filed under: Blogging,marketing with blogs — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:46 am
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I was working on a post the other day, and I noticed this:

So, I immediately started doing some research to figure out what this new thing was.

At first, I thought WP was jumping onto the Facebook bandwagon, and making “Like” buttons available to us self-hosted WP bloggers. But it has nothing to do with Facebook (other than the fact that Facebook has now made the “like” thumbs-up stamp of approval the newest, biggest thing).

In order for you to have a “Like” button on your blog, you must have a WP-hosted blog, and you must be signed in to your account. Now, if you are out in the blogosphere and you come a cross a post you really like, you can, well, “Like” it. This feature is akin to “starring” something in your Google Reader–it highlights that post for later. I often “star” posts in my Google Reader that I think I might like to repost or blog about later. Now you can do it without Google Reader, or without having to bookmark that post for later. At a later date, you can simply go to the “Like” menu, and if you pull it down, you can click on “posts I like” and they’ll all be saved up for you there.

The second part of this new feature is that it gives you the ability to repost that post. You simply click on the “Reblog this post” option in the drop-down menu, and WP will repost it to your blog, giving you the opportunity to add your comments.

WordPress is, essentially, helping us WP users to spread the WP love more easily. The Blogosphere has always been based on sharing and reposting, but this new feature may make it even easier to do that.

Only time will tell if it proves popular.

Click here to read the original announcement from WordPress.

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Blogging for Dummies April 23, 2010

A long, long time ago, in September of 2008, when I was just getting started with blogging and podcasting, I wrote a post called Welcome to the Blogosphere. The topic of that post was an interview with Shane Birley and Susannah Gardner, the authors of Blogging for Dummies: The Second Edition.

Well, time goes by, and 230 posts and two and a half years later, I caught up with Shane and Susie again, who have just published Blogging for Dummies: The Third Edition.


We chatted about how the Blogosphere has changed in the past two years, and about how social media is now a huge part of blogging. We also talked about WordPress versus Blogger, and how quickly things change on the ‘net.

Shane and Susie leave us with three blogging tips:

  1. Schedule time to write
  2. Define for yourself what success looks like and set goals
  3. How to use other forms of social media to increase your blog readership (like e-newsletters)

I won’t give away any more, you’ll just have to listen….

Blogging for Dummies Interview

Blogging for Dummies, The Third Edition, is available at all major bookstores, Amazon.ca, or from http://www.bloggingfordummiesbook.com

Follow Shane on Twitter: @shanebee

Follow Susie on Twitter: @supersusie

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Building a website in WordPress April 16, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Blogging,Marketing Ideas,marketing with blogs — Rebecca Coleman @ 5:46 am
Tags: , ,

Ever since I wrote the post last week about the Belfry Theatre’s website, I’ve been getting lots of questions from folks about building their website in WordPress.

Creating a website in WordPress is a great idea, for a couple of reasons:

  • It’s essentially free
  • The interface is easy to learn
  • It allows you to integrate your blog and your website in the same page, and will help to drive up your Google Ranking

When creating your website in WordPress, you have two options, the same as if you were starting a blog:

  • WordPress Hosted
  • Self-Hosted

Today’s post is focused on how to start a WordPress-hosted blog or website. I will cover how to start a self-hosted site in a later post.

The WordPress Dashboard

To start a WordPress hosted blog, simply go to http://www.wordpress.com. You will first have to sign up for an account. Then, you can choose the name of your page. If you are using this for your website, ideally, you’d want to use the name of your business.

Your new URL will be http://yourname.wordpress.com. If you want to lose the ‘WordPress’, you have two options:

  • Buy your domain name (maybe you already have) and create a redirect (your internet hosting service can help you with this)
  • In your WP dashboard, click on ‘Settings’ and then ‘Domains’. For $15, WP will allow you to drop the ‘WordPress’ and map your domain, assuming it’s not already taken.

Now you can begin to build your site.

  • Decide what you’d like your site to look like. In your dashboard, click on ‘Appearance’ then ‘Themes’. You can browse through all the different themes and find one that suits your fancy. You may want to¬† look for a theme with a customizable header, so that you can integrate your logo and branding in there. Also, think about whether you want one or two sidebars. You can use your sidebar for your contact information, or to import your Twitter feed. At this moment, there are 85 themes to choose from.
  • Start to set up your ‘pages’. You probably currently have a website, or, if you don’t, think about what pages you’d like to have on your site. For example, you’ll want an ‘About’ page, a page devoted to your work, a contact page, and, of course, your blog. For each page you want to have on your blog, go to the ‘Pages’ menu and create a new one. You can populate it with content and copy, adding photos/video, etc. Your front page, the page that people see when they type your URL into thier browser, will be your blog.
  • Choose your widgets: one of the great advantages of having a WordPress page is the vast amount of widgets that are available to you. For example, you can use the Flickr widget to import your Flickr stream directly into the sidebar of your blog. To use widgets, go to the ‘Appearance’ menu on your dashboard, and click on ‘Widgets’. Choose which ones you want, and drag them into the sidebar.

I think starting a WordPress-hosted website or blog is a great option for someone who is just getting started. There are limitations, however, because you do have to work within the WordPress system. If you are just learning how to use WordPress, it might be a good option for you. Once you are more familiar with the interface, you might want to take the leap to a self-hosted WordPress site, which allows you much more freedom and creativity.

And is the topic of a future post…

Click for Part 2

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Using a calendar to plan your social media April 14, 2010

Last month I wrote a post where I encouraged you to commit to a blogging schedule and I promised that it would pay off.

Today, I want to share with you how I help people to plan thier social media (I use this method myself!).

First of all, you need to decide which social media you want to participate in. For many people, this, in and of itself, is overwhelming. There are five main ones:

  • E-newsletters
  • Blogs
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Photosharing (ie: Flickr)

You can decide based on how much time you have to commit to marketing your business with social media. But remember, there will always be a greater time commitment at the beginning, as you get everything set up and working. Blogging takes the greatest amount of time, probably 2-5 hrs/wk, depending on how often you post. Facebook and Twitter can be easily manged in 15 minutes a day. YouTube and Flickr could take more time, because of the editing process.

You can also make this decision based on what’s easiest. Many people begin their foray into social media with Facebook, because it’s the one they are most familiar with, and they are probably already on it with a personal account, and familiar with the interface. I encourage people to take things slow–to not jump into everything at once. Start with one, get comfortable with it, then move on to the next once you feel you’ve conquered it.

Next, get a calendar and create a schedule. Remember, all of your social media should feed into your other social media, and be connected to your website. The whole point is to drive traffic back to your website where people can find out more information about who you are and what you do, and to contact you if they like.

Here is an example of mine:

I set aside a couple of hours every saturday morning to write my blog posts for the week, then I schedule them in. After the post goes up, it automatically is posted to Facebook via Networked Blogs, and I also post it to Twitter (which you could also have done automatically.) On days when I don’t have a blog post going up on Facebook, I try to share a link that I’ve enjoyed on my Facebook fan page, and I like to retweet links on Twitter whenever I find something interesting.

The key to having a social media strategy is to plan out some things you want to post, but to also be flexible about posting things that you discover during your day that you like, and might be interesting to other people.

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Are You Connected? Pt 2 February 8, 2010

Last week I wrote a post on how important it is to make sure that your website and all your social media are connected to each other.

I had a few questions after I posted it, mostly along the lines of, “How?”, so today’s post is dedicated to showing you how.

Website: If you have a website, you probably have a contact page. Make sure that your Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media are on that page. Even if you import your Twitter feed to your website, make sure there is some way that people can easily click on a button and go to your Twitter page so they can follow you. A “Follow Me on Twitter” badge works nicely.

Blog: If you are using WordPress, as I am, you can put your contact info in your sidebar. You need to know a bit of HTML code for this, but it’s not too complicated.
You use a simple Anchor tag, which looks like this:

<A HREF="this is the URL of the page you want to link to">the name of the page</A>

So, for example, if I want people to email me, the code would look like this:

<A HREF="mailto:rebecca@rebeccacoleman.ca">Email Me</A>

It would show up on the page as this:

Email Me

One more example, directing folks to my website:

<A HREF="http://www.rebeccacoleman.ca">My Website</A>

And it would look like this:

My Website

You do all of this via a text widget in your sidebar. Here’s a screen capture of how to do it–including directions to how to use click-able icons instead of text to direct people.

Facebook: Go to your profile and click on the Info tab. If you scroll down, you’ll see “Contact Information.” You can add as many of your websites as you wish. Some social media have widgets that can create buttons that link back to that platform. For example, you can use this widget to create a Linkedin badge for your Facebook profile.

Twitter: If you haven’t yet created a custom background for your Twitter page, a great reason to do so is so that you can post your websites on it. The drawback of Twitter is that you are only allowed to post one hyperlink to your profile, so that should be your main page that you want to funnel people to. You can, however, put your URLs for your blog, website, Facebook, and email on your custom Twitter background. People will have to physically type your address into their browser, but at least the information is there. Creating a custom Twitter Background is the subject of an upcoming future post, but in the mean time, you can use a free service like this.

Aggregators: Because we all have at least half-a-dozen URLs or more, Aggregators are gaining in popularity. What they allow you to do is to post all of your contact information on one page, that has an easy URL, which acts kind of like a digital business card. Some examples of aggregators are Netvibes, Flavors.Me, and one I’ve been using with my BB: Dub.

Create a map of your online presence like I did, and see if you have any gaps, then have some fun with it!

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Should you auto-post? January 22, 2010

If you’re on Facebook, you might have noticed Facebook asking if you wanted to connect your Facebook Fan Page automatically to your Twitter account. Here’s how it works: every time you post a status update on your Fan page, that same update will appear (in a shortened 140 character version, of course) on Twitter (assuming you have an account).

Hmm…. could be a useful tool, right? Think of all the time it could save….

Yes. But.

First of all, I love that all of these automatic-posting widgets are popping up. The key to getting people to share your information (ie: retweeting) is to make it really easy for them. If you have a Retweet button on your bog posts, there is a better chance that folks will use it, rather than them having to copy the URL and then link-shorten it and paste it into their Twitter update. I’d encourage you to get one of those, or, at the very least, a ShareThis widget.

And, as I’ve previously shared, I use a service called Networked Blogs to import my blog’s RSS feed onto my personal profile on Facebook. This tool also works with Fan pages. I love Networked Blogs more and more all the time, because I feel like it is introducing my blog to a new audience.

Having said that, I don’t think that it is always a good idea to have your Twitter account automatically connected to your Facebook account and your blog.

Here’s why:

  • If you share fans on both FB and Twitter (and you will), they might get sick of seeing exactly the same thing on both updates. Even if your information is basically the same (ie: a new blog post), try to think of different ways of sharing it with a different audience.
  • You may have a difference audience on Facebook than on Twitter. For me, Facebook is highly personal. Twitter is more business.
  • Automatic posting may lead to complacency: you might think “I’m covered on Twitter and Facebook because I’m auto-posting, I don’t have to do additional tweets, or check in with my Twitter stream.” Dangerous. People could be responding to your Tweets, unaware that they were automatically generated. Or, perhaps they are re-tweeting you, and it is commonly thought to be polite to acknowledge and thank people that retweet your links.

So, while I don’t use auto-posting on my own personal accounts, I do see its use. For example, if you are new to social media, and are feeling really overwhelmed by it, this could be a great way to ease your way into it. On the other end of the spectrum, if you manage a lot of social media (I have set up something like 10 or so Twitter accounts), auto-posting can be a huge time-saver. The recently redesigned Babz Chula Lifeline for Artists Society website, for example, automatically posts to Twitter every time I upload one of Babz’ new posts.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. And that’s part of what’s so great about social media: it is constantly growing and changing and morphing.

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What are people saying about you? December 11, 2009

I just turned 40. I’m told that one of the best things about being 40 is that you stop caring about what other people think about you, and making decisions based on that. While that might be true for my personal life, it might not be good advice for your business.

One of the major resistances that I hear from people who are afraid to jump into social media is that they are afraid that they won’t be able to control their message, or brand. “People will talk about us,” they say, “and they might say things that are not in line with our company’s corporate message.” And they’re right. But the truth of the matter is, people are going to be talking about you, whether you give them the tools to do so or not.

I often will tweet about excellent customer service, or lack thereof. A couple months back, I went to buy a futon. I drove half-way across town to a futon shop, only to find it closed, even though I was there during the time that they were supposed to be open. What was the second thing I did after phoning the owner and telling him he just lost my business? I twittered it.

It is imperative that you keep an eye on what people are saying about you. That way, if it’s something negative, you can do damage control. If it’s something positive, you can use that person and their message to help spread the word.

Here are a couple of ways for you to monitor the airwaves:

Set up a Google Alert: go to http://www.google.ca/alerts. Create alerts for yourself for your name and the name of your business. Every time your name comes up, you will receive an email from Google.

Twitter Alerts: Go to search.twitter.com, and type in your name. It will tell you if anyone is talking about you right now. Do the same for your twitter user name, just in case someone mentioned you without @ing you. This can be time-consuming, so there are a couple of other options. One is monitter, which works like a Google Alert, only for Twitter. If you are using a Twitter platform like TweetDeck or Seesmic, create a column that continuously searches for your name.

Blog links: If you have a WordPress Blog, WordPress automatically monitors any incoming links. If anyone links to one of your posts, it will show up as a pingback in the “incoming links” section. When someone quotes or references me, I’ll often go and drop a comment thanking them in that blog post.

WordPress Ping

There is one other application to using these monitoring tools. If you’ve been doing keyword research on your blog or business (ie: you know what the top keywords are that people use when doing a Google search to find you), you can set up monitors for those key words. Then, let’s say someone posts a question to Twitter: “Thinking about buying X. Anyone know of a good one?” If you are in the business of selling X, and you receive an alert, you can immediately suggest yours.

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