MarketingBlog.NET: Featured in HP/Logoworks Newsletter

logoworks_newsletterIn January, I was approached by HP to write an article “Using WordPress to Grow Small Businesses” for their Logoworks Inside Small Business Blog. It was a successful article and the visitor feedback ultimately led me to start web design and marketing agency, First Time Online LLC.

Based on popular demand, I was approached to write for their newsletter, which has a distribution of about 80,000+ and contributors have seen good results from their articles.  I put together another article “Free Website Essentials 101” and this time I included more free tips to help bootstrapped start ups harness essential tasks that will define the overall success of their site. The best part is most of the listed advice could be done for free! I included a link to both my blog (MarketingBlog.NET) and (First Time Online LLC) and so far have seen strong and relevant traffic.

Thank you HP and Logoworks for the opportunity to write for your newsletter and blog!  Check out the article for yourself: Free Website Essentials 101

UPDATE: My article was recently re-posted on the blog of full service internet design firm, Taq Media. Thanks guys!

Posted under Blogs, Online Marketing, SEO/SEM

How To Find “Free-WordPress-Themes”

wordpress-logoWordPress is a great blogging tool, but what makes it so likable is the fact that it’s open-source. “Everything you see here, from the documentation to the code itself, was created by and for the community. WordPress is an Open Source project, which means there are hundreds of people all over the world working on it. (More than most commercial platforms.) It also means you are free to use it for anything from your cat’s home page to a Fortune 5 web site without paying anyone a license fee.” (WordPress)

Free WordPress Themes

At this point, if you’re looking for Free WordPress themes, there are so many lists available for both Blogs and Business Websites. I build a business entirely around wordpress theme manipulation. All First Time Online LLC websites are built using pre-existing wordpress themes that I’ve managed to redesign. I know this goes against business intelligence 101, but considering WP is free, I feel it’s almost wrong to not share this list. On that note, here’s a solid list of go-to Free WordPress Theme sites:

  1. WordPress.org: Theme Directory
  2. Artisteer: WordPress Theme Generator
  3. NTT.cc: 61+ Free WordPress Themes
  4. iThemes
  5. 1-800-Blogger
  6. WordPress Direct
  7. ThemeBot
  8. Themes.Rock-Kitty.net
  9. FreeWordPressTheme.info
  10. WordPressThemed.com
  11. Smashing Magazine: 100 Excellent Free WordPress Themes – Recently Added

If you happen to run into any trouble or find a better site, comment below and I’ll update this listing.

Posted under Blogs, Tech2.0

Using WordPress To Grow Your Business

Is there really a need to build small business sites from scratch anymore? As internet standards develop, there are “tools” that are becoming the basis of almost every site built. If you are a small business owner with a “limited” budget or simply a blogger, there are technologies out there that are both cheap and easy, yet 100% effective in creating a strong online presence.


wordpresslogoWordPress – The Ultimate Content Management System (CMS)

I was recently approached by HP to write about “Using WordPress to Grow Small Businesses” for their Logoworks: Inside Small Business blog . This is a loaded topic, which makes it all the more fun to write about! For those of you who don’t know, WordPress is  a very powerful Content Management Systems (aka: CMSa computer application used to create, edit, manage, search and publish various kinds of digital media and electronic text.“)

WordPress was originally designed as blogging platform, but WordPress’s community continued to expand and its uses continued to evolve. If you wanted to setup a portfolio, news/magazine, or e-commerce site – WordPress could handle the job. And best part? It’s Free!!  Steve Bruner, of Slipfire.com, built his entire business on creating WordPress websites.  “WordPress lets us get a full-featured website up and running in a fraction of the time it would take to build one from scratch” says Steve.  “The benefits of content management, built in SEO, easy feature expansion via plugins, a short learning curve for the user and one of the largest, most supportive communities on the web makes choosing WordPress a no-brainer”. An example of a few major sites that use WordPress:

For a complete list, check out the WordPress Showcase.  WordPress is a popular CMS for a broad range of businesses, meeting and exceeding their needs.


Top 5 Reasons To Use WordPress for Your Small Business

Just to give you a better idea of the demand for WordPress, last week oDesk (an online staffing marketplace and management platform) published What’s Hot? Skills with Fastest Growing Demand in 2008, and  based on job/project listings WordPress came out on top with a 427% increase since last year.

Don Campbell, founder of Expand2Web, says “WordPress is an ideal choice for small business websites.” With a background largely involved in Silicon Valley,  he started his company to help Small Business Owners build efficient and strong website and get a steady stream of new customers from Google/Yahoo searches. He  are his Top 5 Reasons To Use WordPress for Your Small Business Website:

  1. SEO – WordPress provides good search engine optimization (SEO) right out of the box. There are a few tweaks you need to make, but there are many seo benefits that WordPress provides for free. In fact Google’s own Matt Cutts says WordPress is “made to do SEO well” in this video: Matt Cutts gives tips to small business owners.
  2. Content – it is easy to update content on your website without knowing HTML.  Do you hate the idea of having to learn to use a complex HTML editor tool like Dreamweaver? Do you have to “ask” your webmaster every time you want to make a small change to your website? Well no longer – once WordPress is set up for you, you can easily create new pages or edit existing pages using a simple rich text editor.
  3. Extensions – There is a thriving ecosystem of developers creating themes and plug-ins – imagine free design themes, or the ability to extend your website with polls, contact forms, ratings or hundreds of other cool features without having to hire a web developer.
  4. Support – If you do have problems, or want to add very custom features, it is easy to find support and developers who can help you. There are literally thousands of WordPress developers out there. And there are so many people writing about WordPress that help is only a Google search away!
  5. One-click-installation – Quick installs are provided by many hosting providers, including Bluehost, 1and1 and GoDaddy.

Don Campbell and Steve Bruner use Worpdress for all of their clients because of these 5 reasons and more. The list goes on, but the point is simple: It’s Efficient and Effective!


Best WordPress Plugins

It’s important to elaborate on just how strong and vast WordPress Extensions are. Kieran Hawe, Sr. Director of Online Marketing at Folica Inc., (previously Director of SEO at MTV Networks) said it best: “The real value of using WordPress are the enormous amounts of plugins available to help you manage, promote and do just about anything else with your blog.”  He published a list of the Best WordPress Plugins covering anything and everything. I suggest you check it out. A few of my favorites include:

  • All in One SEO Pack: Optimizes your WordPress website for Search Engines. Automatically optimizes your titles for search engines, generates META tags automatically, avoids the typical duplicate content found on site. Override any title and set any META description and any META keywords you want. You can fine-tune everything, Backward-Compatibility with many other plugins, like Auto Meta, Ultimate Tag Warrior and others.
  • Lighter Menus: Lighter Menus creates drop-down menus instead of the regular admin menus of the WordPress interface, so that you can browse items with one click and work on your website in a much more usable environment.
  • Enhanced WP-ContactForm: WP Contact Form is a drop in form for users to contact you. In the message it sends to you it gives the page the user visited before the contact page, as well as the original outside referrer. It can be implemented on a page or a post.
  • Google XML Sitemaps: This plugin will generate a sitemaps.org compatible sitemap of your website which is supported by Ask.com, Google, MSN Search and YAHOO.
  • WordPress Automatic Upgrade: Usually you have to go to your hosting company in order to upgrade your site – not with this plugin which takes care of the upgrade automatically.

For more information on WordPress plugins and development visit Yoast.com.


Deciding if WordPress is Right For Your Business? Other CMS’s?

I recently attended an Ultra Light Startup group that put together a panel on Open Source Content Management Systems (CMS).  Experts representing different CMS’s, including WordPress, went head-to-head discussing the pro’s and con’s for small business using their services. I caught the panel on tape and if you need help deciding on a CMS, watch the video on YouTube. Even more noteworthy, the article I wrote about that event was picked up by the well know online publisher SmashingMagazine (<–They’re website is built on WordPress).

If you’re serious about WordPress for your Small Business needs, check out Don Campbells “WordPress for Small Business Websites” where he explores WordPress as a content management system for small business websites, including video tutorials on how to set up WordPress for yourself quickly to manage your small business website. You can also sign up for his free newsletter. Steve Bruner of Slipfire.com is another great person to contact if you’re considering WordPress. In terms of reading I suggest the blog of WordPress’s founding developer, Matt Mullenweg and also the WordPress Blog itself. By the time you’re done with all this reading, you’ll be a “WP-Pro”.

Feel free to contact me with any questions and I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction. You can contact me from my blog MarketingBlog.NET (also built on WordPress). Now go, sign up for WordPress and create an online presence for your company!


Article Posted by Joshua ‘The Red’ Russak on HP Logoworks – Inside Small Business Blog:

*If you have questions about hosting, go here for hosting help.

Posted under Blogs, Online Marketing, Ultra Light Startups

Which CMS? Drupal vs. Joomla vs. WordPress

I recently attended my 5th Ultra Light Startups and as expected, it was a success!  I have covered their recent event topics including Monetization via Ads, then Outsourcing, & last months SEO/SEM. But this months topic was highly controversial: Open Source Content Management Systems (CMS). Topics included:

  • The most popular Open Source CMS’s – Drupal, Joomla & WordPress.
  • Examples of successfull startups on each platform.
  • What are the main differentiators between the platform.

For those of you unaware of this event, the mission is simple: “Tech entrepreneurs, sharing techniques to launch faster and cheaper!” It is a great source of networking with a panel also included to help drive engaging/helpful discussions to improve your startup.

As usual, the night kicked off with 1 minute elevator pitches by the event participants. Rami Weiss of Boomerater.com, explained why this was so crucial: “Pitching is important and practicing your pitch is the only way to perfect it!” (His tips included: Stand Up, Explain What you do, Your Business Model, Funding, Size and Other Stats). There were a lot of web-design and CMS design companies present, but a a few stood out from the crowd.

  • Jason Calderon, BrandYourBaby.com – Child naming and website apps
  • Benjamin Horst, Wishler.com -Social wishlist sharing site
  • Michael Meyers, NowPublic – NextGen “Reuters”/1st VC’ed Co. using Drupal.
  • Peter Raymond, Human Condition – Feel what a disease feels like
  • Joshua Russak (Me), RezRedo.com – Database of Resume Job Experiences
  • Boris Bulayev, Educate – Educating Africa’s Future Leaders

Also, a last-minute addition, the creator of the website Overheard In New York, Morgan Friedman, talked about how he achieved success with his ‘ultra light’ startup. The best advice he gave came from his Rabbi: “Any problem that can be solved by money isn’t actually a problem”. Following his speech, came pizza+pop+networking which is a core to this event. After a 1/2 hour of business card collection the panelists took their seats. The panelists were as follows:

In the past, I covered the events in a Q&A format on my blog, but I decided to try a new form of event coverage: Flip Video! First suggested to me by Melissa Salas (Director of Marketing, Buy.com, met her at Affiliate Summit Social 2008), the Flip is a great way to quickly video-capture events and easily upload them 1-2-3 to social video networks. So…instead of taking notes at this event…I put a fun little video together. Questions covered in the video include:”Describe your CMS…“,”Examples of websites that use your CMS“, “CMS Developer Communities“, “What’s next?” and more…

If you liked what you read here, come out to next months Ultra Light Startup Event: Startup Revenue Models. I look forward to seeing you there.

Posted under Events, Ultra Light Startups

My Company Blog (ACLion) Hits “100 Entries”!

Hooray for me! When I first started doing marketing at AC Lion back in May ’08, building a blog was my #1 objective. They did have a blog in place on the MovableType CMS/Platform, so I decided to work with it. Before WordPress and MovableType, all I knew was Google Blogger, where I practiced HTML and CSS. I went in with little programming experience and no clue about blogs and threw together my first real corporate blog. Take a look at it: Blog.ACLion.com.

Well today I am pleased to announce that I have posted my 100th post for my first company blog. It’s a proud moment for me. I learned a lot about blogging and I started working with WordPress and MarketingBlog.NET as a result. A lot of my earlier posts on this blog came from my corporate blog.

One thing I learned: Working with Worpdress CMS is so much easier than MovableType. Better plugins, themes and spam control. I’d write an article comparing the two, but I’ll save that for another time. For now, congratulations to me for making it this far and I have every intension of moving forward.

Posted under Blogs

This post was written by Joshua Russak on December 2, 2008

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