How To: Add a Twitter Link to Your WordPress Blog

Twitter is all the rage these days and it doesn’t seem like it will be going anywhere any time soon.  With that said, it often surprises me that many WordPress blog owners  don’t offer a convenient way for their readers to retweet their content.  Anyone can grab a Twitter WordPress plugin to tweet their new content as it is published, but what about your older content?

Rather than passing up all that potential traffic, I’ve found that offering a link somewhere within your post (optimally at the bottom of each post) is a great way to help your readers and incoming search engine traffic to promote your content for you.  When people find great content they like to share it with others, so why not make it easy for them?

Not only is adding a “Tweet This!” link a great choice, but it is really easy to do.  Chances are if you do a search on Google for code to use you’ll find something like the following:

<a href="http://twitter.com/home?status=Currently reading <?php the_permalink(); ?>" title="Click to send this page to Twitter!" target="_blank">Tweet This!</a>

This code works just fine, but is not the most optimal solution in my opinion.  Depending on the permalink structure your WordPress blog uses, combined with the length of your domain name, it may be difficult to fit the link into a 140 character tweet.  It also doesn’t leave room for the person to add their own comments to the tweet.

As a proposed solution, I recommend using some WordPress code like the following:

<a href="http://twitter.com/home?status=RT @HackWordPress <?php the_title ();?> <?php echo get_settings('home'); ?>/?p=<?php the_ID(); ?>">Tweet This</a>

This code will automatically insert the “RT” and your Twitter account name (the above example uses our Twitter account, @HackWordPress) then use the ID form of your post with the tweet.  When people click the link in the tweet, they will then be redirected to the actual post using your blog’s selected permalink structure, making a convenient and typically short URL.

Have you integrated Twitter into your WordPress blog? Share your strategies in the comments!

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  • How to: Use Thumbnails Generated by WordPress

    One of ten brilliant tips that I shared yesterday on my blog – display images on your blog’s homepage without any custom fields or any additional functions.php script, something I first saw on WebDeveloperPlus.

    How do you do it? First log in, on the sidebar select ‘Media’ (which is under ‘Settings’). You’ll then be taken to a page with an option to change the thumbnail size of images. Change that to whatever size you want your images to appear as. Next, insert the code below onto your homepage, archive page, whatever.

    <?php
    //Get images attached to the post
    $args = array(
    'post_type' => 'attachment',
    'post_mime_type' => 'image',
    'numberposts' => -1,
    'order' => 'ASC',
    'post_status' => null,
    'post_parent' => $post->ID
    );
    $attachments = get_posts($args);
    if ($attachments) {
    foreach ($attachments as $attachment) {
    $img = wp_get_attachment_thumb_url( $attachment->ID );
    break; }
    //Display image
    } ?>

    Then, to display your image you can just echo out the $img tag we just created:

    <img src="<?php echo $img; ?>" alt=" " />

    And there we have it. I told you it was easy! This is one of the tips from a post I wrote yesterday on WPShout – ‘10 Tips to Improve Your WordPress Theme‘.

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  • How To: Hack WordPress Theme Template Pages

    The key to being able to display exactly what you want in WordPress is understanding WordPress theme template pages. These are the theme files that display pages, not the ones that perform functions like comments, sidebar, etc. Most of us don’t use the WordPress default theme that comes with installation, and end up downloading a free theme from the Internet. This is a great way to customize your blog, but not all theme authors code their theme the same way. The capabilities of that theme largely depend on how much time the web designer took to code it, in addition to their knowledge of WordPress itself.

    I’m going to explain everything you need to know to be able to customize all your theme pages any way you want, and this will give you enough information to begin coding your own theme as well. Even if you’re an ‘expert’ theme coder, you should learn something new from this article.

    How WordPress Works

    The most important thing you could learn about WordPress is the Template Hierarchy, or – “the order in which WordPress calls pages”. The ONLY file that is required in the PHP files of any WordPress theme is the “index.php”. That’s it! That one file could handle every single function WordPress performs (if you wanted it to). Or, you could have a WordPress theme that had a PHP theme for for every single WP function (or anything in between).

    The Order of Things

    Every time a WordPress page is called the WP ‘engine’, if you will, determines (through process of elimination) what kind of page it is. It’s kind of like a “where am I?” function. WordPress says “what page am I…” and in turn tries to call pages in a specific order. If WP doesn’t find the PHP file it needs it just defaults to the “index.php” file and uses it instead. There are 9 basic kinds of pages WordPress looks for first:

    Am I the Home Page?
    If WP thinks it’s on the home page it will look for “home.php” first, and “index.php” second.

    Am I Post Page?
    (Single) post pages look for “single.php” first, and then default to “index.php”.

    Am I a ‘Paged’ Page?
    (Static) or ‘paged’ pages in WordPress look for a “pagetemplate.php” first (if assigned when published), “page.php” second, and default to “index.php” last.

    Am I a Category Page?
    When WordPress determines it’s on a category page first it looks like a category specific ID page, such as “category-7.php”. If it doesn’t find that it next looks for a “category.php” (which would be used on every category page). If that’s not there is searches for “archive.php”, and last it defaults to “index.php”.

    Am I a Tag Page?
    If WordPress is on a tag page it tries to load “tag-slug.php” first, with ‘slug’ being the name of your tag. If your tag is ‘wordpress hacks’ the tag slug page would be “tag-wordpress-hacks.php”. It that’s not available, WP next looks for “tag.php” which would load for all tag pages, then “archive.php”, and if that’s not there last it defaults to “index.php”.

    Am I an Author Page?
    If your blog has multiple authors, first it looks for “author.php” to display the details. If that’s not there, it tries to load “archive.php”, and last it defaults to “index.php”.

    Am I an Archive Page?
    Archive pages are loaded when WordPress loads a date based page for previous posts. First it tries to load “date.php”, then “archive.php”, and last it defaults to “index.php”.

    Am I a Search or 404 Page?
    If WP determines it’s on a search (results) or 404 (not found) page the it tries to load either search.php or 404.php. If not, the default is once again “index.php”.

    Am I an Attachment?
    Out of all the WordPress theme template pages, the attachment page is probably the one used least, and I have to admit – I’ve not seen a single one of these in any of the hundreds of themes I’ve downloaded. WordPress uses these special pages usually for uploaded content, which would explain why it first looks for “image.php”, “audio.php”, “video.php”, or “application.php”. Then it tries to find “attachment.php” or “single.php”, and if none of those are available it also defaults to “index.php”.

    Inner Workings of WP Theme Templates

    As I said before, you could use a single index.php file to handle the 9 types of pages. You would simply code in some conditional tags, like I showed you in the last tutorial I wrote here on WP Hacks. A single index.php would then just contain code to say if is_home, do this, if is_single do that, etc. That’s a lot of code for just one page, and a bit unorganized – and it doesn’t leave a lot of room for customization.

    Coincidentally, like WordPress searches for 9 basic pages – each theme template page also contains 9 basic WordPress elements:

    1. a header call
    2. opening of ‘the loop’
    3. a call to get the permalink and (some) meta
    4. a call telling WordPress what to get
    5. a call to get either the content or an excerpt
    6. (maybe) more meta
    7. closing of ‘the loop’
    8. a sidebar call
    9. a footer call

    Those are only the WordPress elements, of course the PHP code to make them work is usually scattered throughout the appropriate HTML code make your theme’s layout and graphic design work properly. I’m going to explain these elements a bit more so you can understand how you can customize (or create) nearly any theme template page.

    Header, Sidebar, and Footer calls

    I’m going to handle all 3 of these elements at once, since they are all basically the same. When you see this code in a template:

    <?php get_header(); ?>

    WordPress is simply opening the “header.php” file. The same is true for get_sidebar (sidebar.php) and get_footer (footer.php). You could have multiple headers, footers, or sidebars, see the earlier link above for conditional tags.

    Opening of “the loop”

    The infamous “WordPress Loop” is when a call goes out to the database to do something until WordPress says “stop”, i.e. ‘get me the most recent full text posts in their entirety’. The structure of ‘the loop’ changes depending on what kind of page your displaying, and each of the 9 basic types of pages WordPress tries to load has a ‘loop’.

    The opening of the loop generally looks like this:

    <?php if ( have_posts() ) : while ( have_posts() ) : the_post(); ?>

    You may see it broken down with have_posts on one line to define conditional tags with the while and the_post on another, but it’s still the opening of the loop, and it’s pretty much the same in all pages. One way to use the multi-line loop opending is to place a parameter between “if have_posts” and the rest by using query_posts in between to show only a single post, posts from a time period, the last post only, posts from certain categories, or even change the ordering of posts being iterated in the loop.

    A Call to Get the Permalink and (some) meta
    The very last section of the loop opening (the_post) actually makes individual data available through each iteration of the loop. This data referred to usually as “post meta” because it’s descriptors and identifiers for the individual content being looped through. Typically things like the permalink (URL), title, date, etc. I say ‘some’ meta, because most themes show some things before the individual post content, and then some after – such as categories and tags.

    Here’s a short list of things you can call in post meta: the_permalink, the_ID, the_title, the_time, the_author, the_author_email, the_author_posts_link, the_category, single_cat_title, the_tags, single_tag_titls, edit_post_link, comments_popup_link, comments_rss_link

    Example code you might see for post meta would be something like this:

    <div class="post" id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>">
    <h2><a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>" rel="bookmark"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h2>
    </div>

    A Call Telling WP What to Get
    Next WordPress will decide how much of the actual individual post content to get for you. How much is gathered from the database depends on whether your look uses “the_content” (to get it all) or “the_excerpt” (to get part of it).

    (Maybe) more meta
    As I previously mentioned, the common things to see after a post are assigned categories or tags, and sometimes you see an “edit” link here as well. Some themes even put date published meta after the post content.

    Closing of ‘the loop’

    The code looks like this:

    <?php else : ?>
    <?php endif; ?>

    Typically it’s on more than one line in case you want to build an option in, such as a message “Sorry, we didn’t find anything”. After the sidebar, before the sidebar and footer calls, is where you typically find the “next” and “previous” navigation links.

    Bastardized Loops?

    Well, just because most loops look like the examples I just gave you, doesn’t mean you can’t bastardize them in just about any way you can imagine. I recommend you read the WP Codex page The Loop in Action for examples of archive, category, and single post formats – as well as static home page.

    The Codex official page for the loop has several examples of how to place multiple loops in one page.

    Perishable Press has a great tutorial for multiple loops, multiple columns – if you want to try and split your content up. They also have some great loop templates, in addition to a great tutorial of horizontally sequenced posts in two columns.

    Conclusion

    Armed with just a tiny bit of knowledge, you can hack just about any WordPress theme template page to do just about whatever you want! Now that you understand (in great detail) how WordPress calls it’s pages and how the loop works, you can conquer any task! Have fun customizing your blog’s theme!

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  • How To: Use WordPress Conditional Tags to Hack Your Theme

    By using simple conditional tags – it’s pretty easy to add some very basic hacks to your WordPress theme to have more control over what’s displayed when.

    Here are some things you could do with a conditional tags:

    • Display something only on certain pages
    • Display something only on certain categories
    • Display something in header and footer only at certain times
    • Display something only on sub-children of particular pages
    • Display something only in the WP dashboard
    • Display something in the sidebar only when certain conditions are met
    • Do something only when there’s a “sticky” post
    • Do something only when a “page template” is used
    • Do something only for “author pages”
    • Display something only on search or 404 pages

    Let’s say you want something to display only on the homepage, or just category pages, or maybe just your 404 (not found) page – it’s quite easy to do. You don’t have to be a hardcore programmer (I’m not for sure) to implement these very simple theme hacks.

    Where to Use Conditional Tags

    It all depends on your your theme is structured. I’ve seen WordPress themes that a single “index.php” file handle just about everything, and other ones that use only the home.php, index.php, single.php, archive.php, and category.php files. You could handle everything with a bunch of code in one file if you want using conditional tags, have individual files for each thing, or any combination in between.

    Most themes I’ve encountered usually have an index.php and a single.php only. If you want to know what pages WordPress looks for first in a theme before defaulting to the “index.php”, read the official WordPress Template Hierarchy page.

    Conditional tags are great because you can use them both in and out of the loop. You can use them directly in theme pages, but you could also use them in your header, footer, comments, and sidebar files. Actually the sky is the limit, and you have only your own imagination to limit you!

    Conditional Tag Examples

    The worst thing I see on most posts about conditional tags is that they don’t have a lot of examples for you to draw from – so I’ll try to give you a few ideas to get you started…

    If This is XYZ page

    One of the most common ways to use a conditional tag is to add a filter of sorts to tell WordPress “if I’m on ‘XYZ’ WP page – then do this. The most common reason would be maybe to show certain things (ads, text, messages, graphics, scripts, flash) in certain places.

    For example, let’s say you want to display a message to visitors on your home page only…

    <?php if (is_home()) { ?>

    Welcome, you will only see this message on my homepage!

    <?php } ?>

    replace “is_home” with “is_front_page”, “is_single”, “is_sticky”, “is_page”, “is_page_template”, “is_category”, “is_tag”, “is_author”, “is_date”, “is_archive”, or “is_attachment” to make your message show up on nearly any WordPress page. Remember, once the condition is met, you can “do” anything – from including a file to showing special graphics, running a script, anything! You could use this condition for example to show an ad on just your homepage, or just single pages.

    If this is XYZ page show this, else show that

    The nice thing about conditional tags is the fact that you can have as many conditions as you want…like this:


    <?php if (is_home()) { ?>

    <p>Show this!</p>

    <?php } elseif (is_single()) { ?>

    <p>Show this instead!</p>

    <?php } elseif (is_category()) { ?>

    <p>Show something different!</p>

    <?php else { ?>

    <p>Show this if no conditions are met</p>

    <?php } ?>

    OR – you could even structure it in such a way that you lump some conditions together like this:

    <?php if (is home() || is_single() || is_category() || is_page()
    || is_archive() { ?>

    <p>Show this on all those pages!</p>

    <?php } ?>

    The double-pipe or || in the code signifies “OR”, so WordPress knows, if this is home, or a single page, or a category page, or a “page” page, or an archive page – then so something.

    Show Everywhere, Except…

    Sometimes you want to show something everywhere possible except just one or two places…

    <?php if (is_home()) {
    }
    else { ?>

    <p>Show this everywhere!</p>

    <?php } ?>

    With this code we just say if it’s “home” do nothing, else show do this. You could add multiple conditions (exclusions) to this using the || OR operator as in previous examples.

    Getting even more specific

    One thing I hadn’t mentioned was that you could pass additional parameters to the conditional tags for even finer grained control. For example, instead of targeting are single post pages with “is_single”, you could actually target just one using any of these formats:

    is_single(’25′) // uses posts ID
    is_single(‘Title of my post’) //uses the exact title of the post
    is_single(‘title-of-my-post’) //uses the permalink of the post
    is_single(array(25,’this title’,’this permalink’)) //uses when any of the 3 are true

    You can use similar parameters for paged pages, template pages, categories, tags, etc. The official WordPress Conditional Tag page in the Codex lists them all.

    Force WordPress Functions for Certain Conditions

    Have you ever not wanted to add people to your blogroll because their link will display on EVERY SINGLE page of your WP powered site? That’s an easy hack with conditional tags, because you could hack your sidebar to display your blogroll ONLY on your homepage like this:

    <? php if (is_home()) {
    wp_list_bookmarks();
    }
    ?>

    You could modify this to display just about anything in the sidebar for whatever conditions you want. Let’s take this a bit further though – let’s say that maybe I want a special header or footer when certain conditions are met? You can do that too…

    <? php if (is_home() || is_single() || is_page()) {
    get_header();
    }
    elseif (is_category() || is_tag()) {
    include (TEMPLATEPATH . '/header2.php');
    }
    elseif (is_404() || is_search())
    include (TEMPLATEPATH . '/header3.php');
    } ?>

    Using that example code you could have as many different headers, footers, or sidebars as you wanted and you could include them for whatever conditions you specified. Just replace get_header with get_footer or get_sidebar, and edit the rest include the files you want.

    Using Conditional Tags to Change Styles

    So far my conditional tag examples have been to show you how code conditions to do this or include that. Another very simple (and powerful) was to use conditional tags is to just use them for coding style. You could have any element (paragraph, div, heading) change colors or font size or anything related to style when certain conditions are met.

    Let’s take a very simple example, maybe your pages have content contained within one div like this:

    <div id="content" class="main">
    <?php if (have_posts()) : ?>
    <?php while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>
    <?php endwhile; ?>
    </div>

    In most themes, that main “div” is styled the same way on EVERY single page of the theme. Maybe you want it styled one way for your homepage, but another for paged pages, single posts, archives, etc. What you do in this case is to write different classes in your stylesheet for each and call them something like “single”, “archive”, and “paged” – and then you code it like this:

    <div id="content" <?php if (is_home()) { ?> class="home"
    <?php } elseif (is_page()) { ?> class="paged"
    <?php } elseif (is_single()) ?> class="single"
    <?php } elsif (is_archive()) { ?> class="archive" <?php } ?> >
    <?php if (have_posts()) : ?>
    <?php while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>
    <?php endwhile; ?>
    </div>

    You use any variation of this to control any element of your theme at will under nearly any condition. This would also be a great way to control your Post title and meta and have it display different things on different parts of your WordPress powered site.

    Conclusion

    I think mostly that the power of conditional tags is widely underutilized. Many of us just take for granted the way a theme works and looks, and forget that with just a few strokes of code and some imagination – we can change just about anything under the sun in our WordPress theme! I’d like to see some comments on what kinds of things you’ve used conditional tags for in your WordPress site (code samples welcomed!).

     

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  • Make an Apple.com Style Breadcrumb for Your WordPress Blog

    Breadcrumbs, as has been said before on WPHacks, are very useful, both for your SEO and reader’s navigation. In other words, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have them on your site.

    There are a number of breadcrumb plugins you could use, but with a bit of WordPress code, you can avoid this. If you use sub-categories, then this will only display the name of the sub category.

    A typical breadcrumb is something like this:

    Home >> [Category] >> [Post Title]

    WordPress can very easily do this – to get the name of the category the post is in, all you need is

    <?php the_category(); ?>

    Then, to display the post title, the code you need is

    <?php the_title(); ?>

    So our final code, with some arrows added in is:

    <a href="/">Home</a> &raquo;  <?php the_category('   '); ?>   &raquo; <?php the_title(); ?>

    So now that you’ve got your breadcrumb sorted, you can take this one step further and spice it up a bit. For the next part, we’re going to be using the code from a tutorial at Janko at Warp Speed, and with this code, we’re going to turn our breadcrumb into something that looks like the ones you see on Apple.com!

    First, download the html version here, and open it in a your web editor (ie Notepad, Dreamweaver etc). Scroll down until you find <ul id=”breadcrumb”>. This is where we’re going to start editing. All you need to do is copy and paste the following code:

    <ul id="breadcrumb">
    <li><a href="/" title="Home"><img src="/images/home.png" alt="Home" class="home" /></a></li>
    <li><?php the_category(', ') ?></li>
    <li><?php the_title(); ?></li>
    </ul>

    This is basically the same code as we had above, just putting into a list. Make sure you upload the home.png file to /images/, and while you’re at it, upload the other images.

    Next thing we need to do is the CSS. Go into your style.css and paste the following:

    #breadcrumb {
    font: 11px Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
    height:30px;
    line-height:30px;
    color:#9b9b9b;
    border:solid 1px #cacaca;
    width:100%;
    overflow:hidden;
    margin:0px;
    padding:0px;
    }
    #breadcrumb li {
    list-style-type:none;
    float:left;
    padding-left:10px;
    }
    #breadcrumb a {
    height:30px;
    display:block;
    background-image:url('/images/bc_separator.png');
    background-repeat:no-repeat;
    background-position:right;
    padding-right: 15px;
    text-decoration: none;
    color:#000;
    }
    .home {
    border:none;
    margin: 8px 0px;
    }
    #breadcrumb a:hover {
    color:#35acc5;
    }

    Once you’ve done that, then you’re done! If you copy the code from the source file (which you should), then make sure you change the url of the images.

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  • The Importance of Building a Strong Brand

    About a year ago when I restructured my online interests into a business (Apricot Media), one of the first things I set out to do was to take my existing websites/blogs and attempt to build them into mini networks or clusters of websites that could refer relevant traffic internally and then develop a brand between them.

    Although WordPress Hacks is not my primary website, I have built a mini-network of websites within the WordPress niche and used branding to create user recognition.   If you look here at WP Hacks, WordPress eBook, WordPress Forums, and our WordPress Directory, you’ll see they all use blue and all use a very similar logo.   Over time people will associate a logo with your websites and eventually with you individually, which is the ultimate goal.  This will also drastically lower costs if you hire a designer, or save you time if you design things yourself.

    If you’d like to see some very strong examples of internet blog brands built, check out this post over at Got Chance.   You’ll see Apricot Media featured there among some pretty elite company!

    apricot-media-brand

    So, how does this all tie to WordPress?  I believe most, if not all of the sites mentioned, are built using WordPress.  Once you’ve built a completely custom theme you are happy with, you can easily install that theme on any number of other WordPress blogs and make the proper customizations (change the colors, adjust the logos, etc.) to grow and expand your brand.

    When you build websites, how much time do you spend focusing on branding?

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  • Using Guest Blogging to Get Your Blog More Exposure

    No matter how talented of a blogger you are, getting a blog started can be a very difficult thing to do.  This is primarily because there is still the problem with trying to get people to discover your blog. Some people turn to social networking websites to try to drive that traffic (such as Digg, StumbleUpon, Twitter, etc.). Unfortunately the flaw with that method is that the traffic received from these sources typically isn’t targeted to your niche and turn into loyal readers.

    So, how you get good traffic to your website? One of our authors, Jean-Baptiste Jung, recently shared how he got over 1,000 subscribers in under 2 months when he recently launched WP Recipes. In his post, Jean explains that the secret is guest blogging:

    As most of you may know, I’m an author on the popular WordPress related blog WpHacks. So, I wrote a short post introducing WpRecipes to WpHacks readers. My feedburner counter jumped from 150 to 400 in 3 days, providing a loyal and qualified readership. Having blogging friends is very important, because they can help you as you help them.

    Because Jean’s new website covered WordPress, he submitted guest posts on a WordPress-related website to show off his talents. After building a solid reputation with our readership, he then went to a blog with a much larger readership, Smashing Magazine:

    I thought that if a super popular blog talk about my site, it will for sure bring a lot of new readers. So, I asked Smashing Magazine if I should write a guest post for them. They accepted, and two weeks later, they published my article entitled “10 Useful RSS-Tricks and Hacks For WordPress“. This post wasn’t an announcement about WpRecipes, but I cited my blog as a source for some hacks, and added a small “About me” paragraph at the end of the article.

    As of today, roughly two months after his blog launched, it looks like he already has over 1250 subscribers using this method!  I do think it is important to note, however, that a big reason for Jean’s success is that his content is really good. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, guest blogging is a great way to find potential subscribers. From there, it is up to the author to actually keep the subscribers by providing quality content.

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  • Tips for Speeding Up Your WordPress Installation

    Find your WordPress blog is loading slow?   Do you ever get a “MySQL server has gone away” message?  Maybe your WordPress Admin Panel is running slow?   Even if none of those apply to you, the higher the traffic your WordPress blog receives, the more important it is to have an optimal setup.

    In case you’d like to maximize your blog’s performance, Vladimir Porlovac has published a pretty good WordPress Optimization Guide which contains a number of great tutorials and tips for WordPress users.

    Here are the 10 topics which are covered in the post:

    1. Check the Connection
    2. Check your (Vista) System
    3. Check the Plugins
    4. Check your Theme
    5. Optimize Database Tables
    6. Turn off Post Revisions
    7. Implement Caching (WordPress Cache, MySQL Optimization, PHP Opcode Cache)
    8. “MySQL server has gone away” workaround
    9. Fixing posting not possible problem
    10. Other reasons for slow posting

    A few of these steps can be accomplished via WordPress plugins, but overall it is a well written and useful post.

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  • Do You Think That Blogging is Dying?

    Blogging has been pretty mainstream for over five years now, but ever since Technorati released their recent State of the Blogosphere address, there has been a strong buzz around the blogosphere and the impending death of blogging.   This is primarily because of figures showing that about 200 million blogs have been created, but only 7.4 million have published a post in the past 4 months.   As this site loosely focuses on blogging, I wanted to share my thoughts and hear what some of your opinions are.

    In my personal opinion, I don’t think that blogging is dying at all.  My belief is that to many people start a blog for the wrong reasons, or misunderstand the work and commitment associated with blogging.   I would say there are currently two primary reasons why most people start blogging:

    1. Get Rich Quick – I’m not sure why this idea is out there, but there are a ton of people that believe that blogging will make your rich quick.   There are of course a number of people that have made a lot of money blogging, but most people who starting blogging now will need time to develop their blogging skills and develop readership before there are any monetary possibilities.
    2. Personal Blog – This is closer in line with the original intention of blogging.   People launch a personal blog where they can talk about whatever they want.   Here are family pictures, these are my political opinions, and my favorite sports team won last night!   These types of blogs don’t have any focus that would appeal to a large group of people, so they lack readership, which in turn discourages the blogger from putting time into their hobby.

    I also think the emergence of microblogging has had a strong influence on people leaving their blogs dormant.   Things like tumblelogs, Twitter and Facebook status updates have become very popular, negating what blogging offered to some people.   It’s much quicker and serves the same purpose for them.

    What is the Future of Blogging?

    This is always tough to gauge, so you kind of need to look at trends.

    1. More User Interaction – The appeal of blogging has always been the interaction that is possible with the author and other readers, making the site a conversation station.   As bloggers continue to narrow their focus on smaller niches, the interaction seems to get better.  If you look at what WordPress is doing with their acquisitions, you can see how user interaction (improved comments, polls, BBPress, etc.) seems to be their focus for the future of their platform.
    2. Rise in Video Blogging – What this method lacks with SEO (search engines can’t index what is said in a video), it makes up for in personalization.   Video posts can be created very quickly with mini-rants and I think readers enjoy video blog posts because they can actually see the author and hear the emotion in their voices.  These types of sites can develop a strong following very quickly and don’t rely much on search engines to bring them traffic.    Video blogging can also be integrated into a standard blog, giving people the best of both worlds.

    I also believe we will continue to see fewer blogs in the traditional sense, meaning a standard website where the homepage displays a loop of the most recent posts.  More than likely some sort of hybrid will emerge over the next couple years, which is a cross between a Content Management System (CMS) and a blog.

    What do you think?  What is the future of blogging?

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  • Improving Your Blog with a Partial Redesign

    Last week I announced the Hack WordPress anniversary contest, and with the announcement, also mentioned a redesign of Hack WordPress.  The thing that I think made this redesign unique and interesting is that it was built upon the old design, with only some stylesheet changes, different images, and a bunch of added functionality.

    So, why did I decide to go with a redesign instead of a completely custom new design?   In a recent post over at Pro Blog Design I think Michael pretty much summed it up best when he explained how to redesign and still win.

    When a reader visits a blog day after day, they get used to it. They know how the home page is going to look, they know what they will find in the sidebar and they know what decorations to expect around their comments.

    The familiarity does wonders in helping them get around your site quickly, but there are no surprises for them. There’s none of the spark and interest you get when you come across a great looking new site.

    It only takes one change to break the monotonous familiarity.

    Though Michael’s example is focusing on changing one part of your blog (only the sidebar, header section, comment section, etc.), I think the general idea holds true to our situation.  At some point your blogs growth stalls, and sometimes changes need to take place in order to spark interest and hopefully see that growth continue.

    If you find that your blog has stalled a little bit, why not make a change to your design (no matter how small)?  Even something as simple as redoing your logo, revamping your website’s header section, or making some changes to the sidebar can go a long way.

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