WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

One of the most confusing things about WordPress is that there’s basically two ways you can use it and your decision will have a significant impact on what you can do with your website. You can use the WordPress.com service, or you can use the self-hosted version, also referred to as WordPress.org. If you want the quick n’ dirty feature comparison, you can check out this handy chart. Or read on for my take on the implications, and my recommendations.

What’s The Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

WordPress.com is a hosted platform meaning that you go to the website WordPress.com, sign up for a free account and they host your blog for you. You have to do very little set-up work. Initially they will give you a url for your new blog such as lucy.wordpress.com – there are ways to change that, but that’s your first indicator that your blog actually lives on the WordPress.com servers.

The other option is usually referred to as WordPress.org, or self-hosted WordPress. This is where you buy your own hosting plan and install the WordPress software on it. The software itself is ALWAYS free – you are paying a hosting company, not WordPress or Automattic (the parent company) themselves. You will need to buy a domain name to use WordPress this way, so your site will live at yourdomain.com – whatever you have chosen.  Read the rest of this entry »

how to make your WordPress site look good on Facebook

Here’s an interesting factoid for you. Approximately once every 13 seconds* another blogger posts on an internet forum or group a variation on the following question: “Why does Facebook always show the wrong image when I post a link to my blog ?!!”

This post is a guide to what’s going on and how to make it right.

I preface it with this caveat:

Facebook is a mean ole bully and often changes the way that it operates suddenly and without warning. What works today could become obsolete tomorrow. Today, this is what works.

Get To Know The Open Graph Protocol

The Open Graph Protocol is a particular set of meta data – that is, information about your site, that goes into the code of your site. Both Facebook and Google Plus look for this meta data in order to learn about your website.

When it’s all present and correct your site looks lovely in Facebook.
When it’s not there, they make stuff up based on whatever they can grab. Read the rest of this entry »

Conversion Friendly WordPress Sidebars

How To Make Your WordPress Site Conversion Friendly: Part 2 – Effective WordPress Sidebars

Sidebars are one of the best places to put your calls to action. Widgets make your life easy and almost every theme has ‘em! But we need to exercise some self-restraint when working with sidebars to make them effective.

Control Your Sidebars!

The reason you need to control your sidebars is so that you can tailor the content based on the area of the site the user is in. Some themes may have already baked in a way for you to choose different sidebars on different pages so that you can have different widgets accordingly. But many have one sidebar that will display the same set of widgets on every area of the site. If you want to get really refined about the conversion process you’ll need more control.

My favorite plugin for this is Display Widgets which I discuss over here

If your theme does not give you a way to choose a different sidebar per page, you need to go grab yourself one of the plugins listed.

What Should Go In Sidebars?

Sidebars often become the dumping ground for all the stuff you want people to see but can’t fit anywhere else. But less is more in this case, and more is just…..diluting and confusing.  So try to keep sidebars lean and mean. The very top of your sidebar should house the most important elements. What those elements are will vary according to your business, what you are selling (if anything) and what your conversions are (see part 1). Here are some ideas. Read the rest of this entry »

WordPress Developers and Users - Bridging The GapI wrote a post for Torque Mag ( an excellent WordPress news resource ) recently on the nature of the relationship between WordPress developers – those who create themes and plugins, and users of WordPress – those regular folks who have no interest in code and just want to create and manage their sites. As a WordPress trainer, mini-developer and user, on a daily basis I’m either taking on one of those roles, or I’m witnessing first hand how they interact. Oftentimes there’s miscommunication and misunderstandings. Ever bought a theme convinced it was going to do all that you needed it to do, only to find out you actually need to customize it with CSS? Or that it doesn’t have as  much flexibility as the description implied? Ever been thoroughly underwhelmed with the lack of instructions on  how to use a theme? Or perhaps the directions were about as user-friendly as a Latin book. I deal out some tough love to both developers and users on things each side can do to try and make life easier for the other. Would love to hear what you think. Read the article and comment over on Torque: Bridging The Gap Between WordPress Developers & Users

WordCamp Los Angeles 2013WordCamp Los Angeles is taking place September 21st & 22nd – two days of awesome WordPress fun, learning and connecting. If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, I recommend you do so ASAP since they are likely to sell out. As I write this there are only 60 remaining. You also want to make sure you can snag a T-shirt in the correct size. That’s right, in addition to 2 days of presentations and workshops, your $40 ticket also includes lunch and free T-shirt! Can’t say fairer than that. This is the cheapest, most value-packed tech conference around. If you are a WordPress user anywhere near the LA area, attendance is a must! You’ll have tons of fun, learn more than your head can hold, and will connect with other users, developers, designers etc. WordCamps really embody the spirit of the community – everyone freely shares ideas and you can ask all your burning WordPress questions.

WORDCAMP REGISTRATION

Speakers have just been announced and there are going to be some great sessions. Read the rest of this entry »

WordPress class - Coloft Santa MonicaColoft is an awesome co-working space in Santa Monica. In addition to providing the physical space where entrepreneurs can work together, they also foster community and creativity. One of the value-adds they provide is Coloft Academy – an ongoing series of extremely affordable classes on everything from productivity, business strategy, design and marketing. I am going to be teaching a Beginner’s WordPress class as part of the Academy series. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hi! I'm Lucy Beer. I know that WordPress is liberating when you know how to use it, and bewildering when you don’t. I help individuals and businesses learn WordPress for their specific needs. I will accelerate your knowledge and cut your learning curve in half (at least!). Generic tutorials and videos only go so far - when you need specialized knowledge, or a real person to answer your questions, that's where I come in. I help non-techies understand and use the web to empower their personal or business mission.

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  • Elen: Hi! Totally new WordPress user here. Came across your article and found it to be super helpful. Hopi [...]
  • kathy: Hi Lucy, Thank you so much for this post. It's exactly what I, as a total WP beginner, was loo [...]
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  • Patrick @ SSDpress: "You get what you pay for" is very true. It's well known that lots of companies ' [...]
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