Category: Blog

Building a Blog, Part III: Making Your First Post

When you first start your blog, you’ll already have one post and comment; you’ll want to get rid of these samples before you start actually writing.  Click on Posts in the sidebar; this takes you to a list of your posts (currently just the one); by mousing over the sample article, you’ll get the option to send it to the trash.  Now, let’s add some real content.

In the sidebar or at the top of the page, click the button that says Add New.  This brings you to a simple form with a number of fields; the only ones you need to worry about to start are the first two boxes, which are the title and the body of the post.  The title should be something descriptive that draws people in and makes them want to read what you have to say; the body can be whatever you like.  Go ahead and type something into both fields.  Now look to the right and you’ll see a box labeled Publish.  What you’re currently working on is a draft; you can hit Save Draft and it’ll be ready for you to come back to and finish later.  Alternatively, you can go ahead and hit the publish button; this will put the post up on your website for all to see.  Not sure how it’s going to look?  Go ahead and click Preview first; in fact, I recommend always previewing your post and reading over it for errors before it goes live.  The preview function will show you the most recently saved version of your article, so if you’ve just made changes and it hasn’t autosaved yet (and you haven’t hit the Save Draft button) you may not be looking at the most recent version; when I finish typing an article, the first thing I do is save it and then read it over for errors.

One of the nice things you can do is categorize your posts, which makes it easier for people to find what they’re looking for.  By default, everything goes into the Uncategorized category (you can change this in your settings), but you can put it into any categories you want; just click Add New Category and then be sure the boxes for every appropriate category are checked.  You can further help your users (and search engines) find the appropriate articles by adding tags; for example, this article falls under our category Web World, but is also tagged as dealing with blogs.

The key to making a good blog is to write about something you’re knowledgeable about and interested in, and to avoid things that turn people off, such as spelling mistakes.  An SEO specialist would also be checking for proper keyword placement (among other things) to help the site rank highly in search engines.  For example, there are a huge number of businesses with the name “X Ear Productions”; a Google search for ear productions turns up about two and a half million websites, with names such as Broken Ear Productions, Write In Your Ear Productions, Flapping Ear Productions, Dog Ear Productions, etc.  Very little SEO has been done for Moonlight Designs Studio, but we’re still on the first page of the results.  The more unique your business is, the easier it is to get you top placement for the appropriate search terms; this is particularly true if your business targets a particular geographical area. However, building a loyal customer base has always been about providing good service, and in the case of websites, this means providing useful content.  So get writing!

Building a Blog, Part II: Configuring WordPress

Ok, so you’ve followed the instructions in part I and you now have…a simple, very blue blog.  Doesn’t look very interesting yet, does it?  Don’t panic!  We’ll be spicing it up very shortly.

If you’re logged in to your dashboard, you should see a sidebar with a number of links including Posts, Media, etc.  The one you want right now is at the top of the second batch of links and is labeled Appearance.   You’ll see your current theme (the WordPress default) and probably the classic theme.  Not very exciting…but there are tons more to choose from!  At the top of the page, next to the Manage Themes title, is a button marked Add New; click on it and you’ll be treated to a huge number of free themes you can use for your site.  When you see one you like, just click install; once it’s installed, click activate to (you guessed it!) activate the theme and change the appearance of your blog.  There are many paid themes as well, some costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but to start you should stick with the free themes until you know what you like.

One of the options in the Appearance dropdown is Custom Header; this allows you to upload your own header image rather than using the default.  You can crop your image from within WordPress, but you’re better off just uploading a correctly sized header: 850 by 120 pixels.  The appearance of your blog is very important, as it needs to match the rest of your site; if you’re not a graphic artist, it’s probably a good idea to hire one to create your header image.  Research shows that customers have more trust in websites that have a professional look, and consistency plays a big part in that.  For example, this blog’s style matches that of our main site, although they were designed at different times.

Underneath Appearance is a link called Plugins; this is where you can download software that adds additional functionality to your blog. WordPress ships with Askimet, which helps keep spam out of your comments, but you have to sign up for a (free) key and activate it before it’ll work.    As with themes, there are a huge number of free plug-ins; you’ll want to read the comments and find some that interest you.  We’ll recommend a few in a future article.

Under Settings, you can change the blog title and tagline; just delete the tagline if you don’t want it to be superimposed over your header.  You’ll also set things like your time zone and the format to use for the date and time of your posts and comments.

You’ll notice there are a ton of various options that can be set, but the defaults should work until you’re up and running.  Next time, we’ll talk about making your first post.

Blogs, SEO, and Lots More

As a service to our customers, starting on Monday we’ll be publishing a number of articles on the basics of web design.  We’ll discuss how to start a blog, why SEO is important, and (as promised in the title) lotsmore!

Why teach you how to do these things for free, when we offer all of this as paid services?  Quite simply, we believe it will bring in more business.  (The fact that I like to talk might also have something to do with it..)  With today’s tools, you can create a fairly nice design without a lot of specialized knowledge, but to build a truly professional site requires years of education and experience.  We believe that once you see what can be done, you’ll want the best, most effective website you can get…which means hiring a professional.  When you do, we hope you’ll think of us.

Promoting Your Business on the Web

You have the name, you got your cards and now you need a website?  Yes, now everything is now shifting to the internet and has been for a few years.  Utilizing the internet as a marketing avenue for your company is important.  Not only will it allow your company to reach a larger audience, but it will allow you to reach out to your clients in several different ways, and here are just some of the benefits…

Internet Bandwagon?
So you have cards to promote, what more do you need?  Well for one most potential customers are now “Google-ing” instead of looking though a yellow phone book.  Rather than calling they are viewing company website’s to better research the topic or services that they are after as websites tend to be more in-depth than a phone call.  But you cannot just throw a site up into cyber space, you need the company to be branded, have the same look/feel  on all marketing materials where it be cards, print collateral and finally a website, all should be branded the same so that customers  do not get confused or think that the company is not legit .

Social Connection?
Although the internet has been around for a few decades, only in the 1990s did it explode onto more local mainstream homes, than in the 2000s we get introduced to “Social Networks” mySpace, Facebook, Digg and many others. At first glance many saw these as “tween” sites where teens/ young adults join and connect but then the dynamics changed and in the past three years there has been a growing trend for Celebrities’  to “connect” with their fans.   Another step in the social network trend was the introduction to Twitter, a simple 140 character limit to “tweet”.  Twitter grew unexpectedly and is still going strong.

Soon after they started to grew in popularity did business start to use social networks as a “tool” to connect with their customers, clients and of course fans.  Nowadays most businesses have a Facebook page, a twitter accounts to stay up to date and promote their business to viewers.

History of Moonlight…

When you meet Brit, than you will understand the name behind One Ear Productions.

In the winter of 2006, One Ear Productions was under a different name, called Britductions, clever yet not as “catchy” and it mostly housed the resume & artwork created by me.  Never was there any intention of creating a business, as frankly I was busy enough with my full time job. But than my full time job started to struggle.  Fearing that I was not going to be able to pay my bills, I became a  freelancer in early 2007 while still working a full time job.  By June of that year One Ear Productions was born and has been steadily growing in the past few years.

At the end of 2009, One Ear Designs was formed as a newer fresher division of One Ear Productions, that just focuses on custom designs for personal (non-commercial) events.  This is the artist in me coming out in a newer fresher hip designs that are limitless in creativeness.