Wordpress Templates - The Best Time Investment
I know the topic is a bit arcane. It doesn't really apply to many people. Even to those it does apply to, it seems a waste of money and time. I'd beg to differ on the last point. The whole premise of this piece is arguing the "value of your time as a blogger."
The reason I feel it is a useful exercise, is that Wordpress have upped the quality of the publication side infrastructure quite a bit in recent months. Themes are quite important (I think) in developing a customized product, often because they do most of the heavy lifting for you, by having customized pages, pre-built content forms and the right plugins for your niche.
Most businesses have a website. Many cost quite a bit of cash. Wordpress (self hosted) probably works as the most viable cheap option (for blogging) as well as the experts option. I'm not saying you can't get better, but that the price is hard to beat.
Wordpress now powers 30% of the internet.
Few people look to the top paid themes, Publisher, Kleo, The7, or the many others out there, as genuine business investments. Rather they'll hire a web developer to do it for them. OK, that's an option and a valid one, but would you really give your accountant your cheque book carte blanche? Would you let your hairdresser just go for it?
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First you might ask, what is a theme?
A theme is a set of content, commands and pages that are custom built for a particular audience.
I want to show you one theme and show how many things it does well, for my needs as a content distribution hub.
The theme I'm going to look at is Publisher. Publisher is a premium "magazine" type theme. It is used by lots of big companies. It costs 44 $ USD for a one off instance (multiple sites cost more). We're not talking mega money.
I want to show you one aspect of what it does well in a simple way. Straight out of the box, you can (within 1 hour with a little practice) produce a credible magazine type site using the "dummy data" or template data supplied. Many global sites I use on a daily basis, have done little more than this. Take a quick look at Football365.com, PlanetFootball.com and Soccernet.com (ESPN purchased and re branded), if you think I'm wrong.
If you've an inquiring mind, You might say those are publishing organisations with multiple hierarchies, editors, advertisers and writers who need global 24 hour access to an easy to understand content delivery platform, that's not me. True, but no one says you it can't be you either, it's scalable.
This post will look at the front (audience view) and back end ( "developer" side) content distribution options on a recent post from today.
Even before you hit publish, you have a multitude of options available, relating to the overall flow of your content. You can create a very specific look for different posts and relate it to your overall theme or "branding."
Once your content is created you have multiple ways of showing it. You can use tabs, sliders, multiple images grouped by category.
That is not my primary interest, I want to distribute content.
For this purpose there is a really handy plugin called Blog2Social. It works well, allowing you to re-share, schedule and distribute across numerous channels (with one click).
This is the free version (12+channels). The paid version offers more options.
From there we have the option of sharing again on the front end directly from the post. We can also check if the share worked by clicking on the related social channel. Using just these two options in tandem allows me to syndicate across 20 platforms. Remember I'm also doubling that up with IFTTT, Buffer, DlvrIt, Proofer and can reshare later again with Blog2Social manually (or auto).
This process allows me far greater flexibility in terms of the distribution of content.
I can also add another layer of sharing with Sumo which offers a free "floating" share bar, among other tools.
There are quite a few options out there, check this post, if floating share makes you queasy.
There are many features to speed up the writing and editing process, all focused on the needs of a "pro" blogger or publisher. Some seem innocuous, others are clever design tweaks that keep you "in the flow"while adding media choices or formatting, excerpting snippets or quotes and indenting, tabbing or linking sources. It's a complex assortment of tools being close to hand and eye.
A good example is the "you might also like..." box at the end or the more stories pop up on the side (below). All of this can be customized to suit your needs. Keeping focused solely on distribution (for the example) - there are many, many, plugins to assist.
I can easily set up the system to work as a hub for my email based outreach and collection. You might even be able to automate that entire process (I haven't tried).
There are so many options, between the theme, the plugins and the basic functionality that there really is a case to be made for learning how to do this stuff, even if just to save money on developers.
There is one all encompassing benefit, you have control over the process, the data and the distribution. This is a big bonus.
It is definitely not rocket science, it's quite simple in fact.
One last thing. Because you can build out categories, tags, themes, pages, menus and taxonomies, your content can be built into a multi use library. It can be searchable, dynamic and work well as a resource, training hub or whatever specific knowledge need you might have. This is where I feel that Wordpress becomes a serious business tool, in it's extensible quality. It can be very powerful. "In the beginning was the Word."