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Blog Design, Development and Training

If you’re considering starting a blog or adding a blog to your existent website but the concept is new to you, take a few minutes to read through this page. By the end of it, you will understand what your options are, whether a blog will be a smart choice for you and how Solas Web Design can assist you in achieving your goals.

What Is A Blog?
A blog is a publishing format – just like a website. A blog comes with a backend dashboard that enables you to easily publish content on an on-going basis. The backend of a blog looks a little bit like email. Each post or page you write has a title field, a main content field and a button to make your content live on your blog. You can either have a stand alone blog on the topic of your choice, or have a blog added to an existent website as a way for your business or organization to publish content and interact with the public.

What Types Of Blogs Are Available?
Most blogs are free pieces of software. Some can be downloaded to your own hosting so that they belong solely to you, while others must run on the server of the company that created the software, meaning that part of your blog really belongs to the software developer. In most cases, you will want a blog that is downloaded to your own host so that you have total rights and total control over it.

Some of the best known blog software names are WordPress, TypePad and Blogger. WordPress is considered the to be the best choice in most cases by many design and marketing professionals.

Why Do We Think WordPress Is The Best Blogging Software?
Not only does WordPress offer countless free themes to start with, but of equal importance, developers have created all sorts of plugins and widgets that can help your blog achieve almost any imaginable function. Beyond this, WordPress has an extensive help forum in which you can research common issues and ask questions. We’ve worked with most of the common blogging formats over the past 10 years and believe that WordPress delivers the best dashboard, the most options for customization and the greatest satisfaction in a very wide variety of scenarios.

WordPress offers 2 types of blog. At WordPress.com, you can get a free blog that will run on WordPress’ hosting. As explained above, this means that part of your blog essentially belongs to WordPress because it is sitting on their server. If you choose to go this route, your domain name will look something like joesautobody.wordpress.com. A far more professional choice is to get the free blog software from WordPress.org. This is the version that can be downloaded to your own hosting, meaning that it belongs to you. Why is this important? Because the effort you put into blogging and the backlinks you earn from others should all be going towards strengthening your domain and brand – not the brand of a third party. If you go with this more professional option, your domain name will be whatever you’ve chosen – joesautobody.com – without the WordPress part.

Should I Use A Free Theme For My Blog?
Thousands of free themes have been developed for WordPress. You can take one of these free themes, as-is, and start blogging as soon as you acquaint yourself with the dashboard. Sounds great…but the problem is, your blog will look like thousands of others if it hasn’t been customized. This will hamper you in your efforts to stand out from the crowd, and if your blog is being added to business’ pre-existent website, an out-of-the-box theme is not going to match the look and feel of your site, creating a choppy presentation for your website visitors.

You have three options available to you for blog customization to help you avoid ending up with a blog that looks just like thousands of others.

Do It Yourself
Many major hosting companies have one click blog setup, so that actually installing the blog on your hosting is relatively simple, but to be able to customize its visual appearance and function, you will need to become conversant with two things – CSS and PHP. CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) is the formatting that controls most visual aspects of the blog, while PHP is the code that controls the blog’s functions. If you have time to devote to studying and experimenting with these, and you have a graphics program such as Adobe Photoshop, you can create a customized blog.

Paid/Premium Themes
Some themes are not free. They are, instead, sold by companies that develop a theme and then offer you paid support for assisting you in making certain customizations to it. This works well for some individuals who have the time to spend in working through the process with paid technical support.

Fully Custom Blog Design
This is the option we offer. We can take almost any free theme and make it look literally any way you want it to. It can be an exact match of your existent website for a smooth ride for visitors or it can be a stand-alone blog with a design developed only for you. Your blog will not look like any other blog on the web because it will have been designed to your exact specification both in terms of visual design and function. We work with you throughout the design process until the blog perfectly matches your wishes. Then, we train you to use the dashboard – a simple telephone session of less than an hour will have you ready to start writing on your completely custom blog!

Who Should Blog?
There is almost no topic or business that cannot benefit from a blog. If you are considering blogging, there is one critical question you must ask yourself before you begin: will you have time? Some blogs publish multiple posts daily, some once a day, some once a week or a few times a month. You must discern how much time you will realistically have to devote to blogging. If the answer for you is zero, consider these options:

In a business setting, the business owner will commonly designate one or more employees as the company bloggers. This will be part of the work they do on the clock for pay. These chosen individuals must have good writing skills and be good choices for representing your company on the web.

If having an in-house blogger isn’t possible, do what many other companies and organizations do and hire a professional blogger. We offer a paid blogging service and do ghostwriting for a wide variety of blogs. If you choose to hire a pro blogger, you will be working out a contract with them, typically based on the number of posts they will be providing on a weekly or monthly basis.

Reconsider whether blogging is really right for you. If you don’t have time yourself, don’t have an employee who can blog for you or don’t have the budget to hire a pro blogger, then you will end up with a dead blog, and that doesn’t benefit anyone.

What Are The Benefits Of Blogging?
There are many excellent reasons that blogging has become such a popular publishing format. Consider these:

  • Blogging offers an easy way to add new content to your website on an-ongoing basis without needing to know any coding
  • Websites that feature blogs are rich in fresh content – allowing them to outshine static, unchanging sites in the eyes of the search engines and the public
  • Every post you write is a chance to rank for new important keyword phrases
  • A blog showcases your expertise on your topic of choice, establishing your authority
  • A blog can educate and inspire its audience
  • A blog can inform the public and even galvanize a movement
  • Because most blogs allow the public to comment, they make conversation possible
  • Commenters who come to you for information will be exposed to your brand and may become future customers
  • Blogs can win links for businesses in tough industries
  • Blogs can be hooked into your other social media efforts so that you have something to point to from your social media accounts

What Can Solas Web Design Do For You?
We offer three powerful services related to the art of blogging. Choose precisely what you need:

Blog Design

Using a free theme as our starting point, we can create any design you’re dreaming of. We can add a blog to your existing website and make it match the visual look of your website, or we can build you a stand-alone blog. Every blog we build comes with an SEO plugin that will enable you to optimize your title tags and meta data and we include a spam fighting plugin in our blog development, too, so that you spend less time dealing with spam comments. When your blog has been launched, we schedule a telephone training session to walk you through the intuitive WordPress dashboard. We do all the heavy lifting so that you can get writing as quickly as possible!

Professional Blogging

We create monthly blogging contracts for a few select clients. If you don’t like to write and don’t have an in-house employee to whom you can designate this important task, but know how a blog could benefit you, contact us to ask if we will blog for you. Our consultation is free and will result in a proposal from us for a set number of blog posts per month to be published on your company’s blog if we feel we are a prefect match for your business. Content remains the king of the web and yours must be exceptional. We write beautiful, optimized copy.

Blog Content Strategy Consulting

If you already have a blog but are at a loss to know what to write about, book a couple hours of our time. We can assess your industry and your opportunities and come back to you with a list of suggested topics you can start blogging about. Your modest investment in this helpful, on-on-one consultation will give you direction in your work and jump start your creativity.