Tiny Startup Camp Follow Up

Over the weekend I gave a talk on the basics of WordPress at Tiny Startup Camp. I posted the slides on Saturday.

After the talk we had a 30 minute breakout session where people could ask questions. Someone asked if there were any common best practices that I saw frequently overlooked. I picked three that, while not specific to WordPress, are commonly overlooked when starting WordPress-powered sites.

Making a site “social”

My biggest pet peeve of the bunch. The idea is that people want to make their site “social” so that they can increase traffic and draw more people to what they do. The problem is that creating meaningful engagement with your site is neither easy nor fast.

So, what too many people do is drop 25 sharing buttons on their site and say, “See! It’s all socialized!” Wrong. Fact is adding sharing buttons doesn’t make your site social. If anything it disrupts your ability to build a community as your not giving readers any direction.

What’s better is to include just a small handful of sharing buttons that are for services where you will actually pay attention. If you don’t know Reddit from Pinterest from StumbleUpon then you shouldn’t have sharing tools for them. Direct people to share things on the services you engage with so that you can learn from how people share what you publish.

Comments

Similar to the assumption that sharing buttons create socially-engaging sites there’s an assumption that any blog worth its weight has to have comments. Not true.

Your WordPress-powered tiny startup only has to have what you want it to have. If you are not willing to spend time interacting with readers and building a productive community around comments then don’t. have. comments. Simple.

As a tiny startup people will use comments to ask for refunds, ask support requests, complain about your product, praise your product, and any other variation under the sun. If you aren’t on top of those conversations, stepping in to answer questions, and moderating toxic members then you’re essentially slapping up a trash heap after each piece of well-crafted content you publish.

You can either choose to put time in to creating a fantastic community of commenters or you can not have comments. You don’t get the community without the work.

Regular and consistent posting

The final best practice I mentioned had to do with the content side of things. I’ve seen too many people start blogs for their companies only to go weeks or months between posts. It’s far better to pace your content consistently.

Six posts one week followed by eight weeks of silence doesn’t send a great message to your customers. Are you going to be there for them or are you not?

If you need help staying on track and publishing consistently there are a couple plugins that can help. Edit Flow includes an editorial calendar along with a suite of editorial tools. There’s also the more single-use Editorial Calendar plugin. Either can help you map your content over a week or month and make sure you are effectively spreading posts out.

Learnable Programming

Learnable Programming:

a well-designed system is not simply a bag of features. A good system is designed to encourage particular ways of thinking, with all features carefully and cohesively designed around that purpose.

This essay will present many features! The trick is to see through them — to see the underlying design principles that they represent, and understand how these principles enable the programmer to think.

A Short Lesson in Perspective

A Short Lesson in Perspective:

Pretty soon, The Overnight Test became the Over Lunch Test…Now of course we are all suffering from the same affliction. Our technology whizzes along at the velocity of a speeding electron, and our poor overtaxed neurons struggle to keep up. Everything has become a split-second decision. Find something you like. Share it. Have a half-baked thought. Tweet it. Don’t wait. Don’t hesitate. Seize the moment. Keep up. There will be plenty of time to repent later. Oh, and just to cover your ass, don’t forget to stick a smiley on the end just in case you’ve overstepped the mark.