It goes without saying that the Internet is a medium with huge potential for businesses and individuals who want to tell a story. If you have a voice that wants to get out and be heard, the chances are blogging platform WordPress is a service you know well. If you don’t, then you really should.
WordPress powers nearly 19 percent of the Internet today, and it’s grown into such a huge force because it has vast reservoirs of potential waiting to be untapped. If you’re someone who is looking to get the best out of WordPress, Jon Saddington is a person who you simply need to talk to.
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
Happily we can report that John has agreed to share his insights, expertise and vision with TNW Academy students with his ‘Optimizing WordPress for Maximum Productivity’ class on August 15 next week.
With more than ten years of blogging under his belt, Saddington is a founder of WordPress blogging company 8Bit and Pressgram, an upcoming iOS app that publishes filtered photos to WordPress. In the past, he developed products at Fortune 500 companies like Dell and Fox Media, giving him a vast array of experience and insight into building and running a business and, of course, blogging.
Read on for our Q&A with John which reveals some of the points and areas he will touch on next week.
TNW: Hi John, what can TNW Academy students expect to get out of your class next week?
JS: I plan on walking through the backend of WordPress admin and explaining how to optimize every element of it. That will touch on things that most users have no clue about, like “Screen Options,” as well as little known facts about comments, ping backs and the performance hit it can have on a hosting solution.
It’ll be a top to bottom approach. The goal is to set them up for great success for writing so they can concentrate ONLY on writing and publishing. I’ll also add thoughts generally about SEO and a few plugins that I use religiously, and there will be time for questions and answers at the end.
TNW: You’re a well-known and respected blogger, can you briefly explain how it all started for you?
JS: It started out easy enough — I was simply interested in sharing the things that I was working on. In the beginning it wasn’t really blogging as we know it now as I was uploading HTML files via FTP to my file server. Then in late 2001, I was introduced to XANGA which was a more CMS-type online system for publishing. My life was changed.
TNW: It’s often said that content is king, so why should bloggers be concerned about the way they use WordPress when it’s what they write that truly counts?
JS: There are some fundamental properties that WordPress has out-of-the-box that give it some advantages over many other systems and solutions.
The first is that it’s built very well and has native SEO best practices built-in. With a great theme and a decent plugin (or two) you’ve got a killer search-engine solution. The second is the plugin ecosystem which I just alluded to — content is great but there are ways to make sure your content is pumped to the right channels and that capture your readers attention so that they come back. The plugins available to WordPress allow this customization and feature-set that do not come standard (and many are great quality).
Finally, it’s free and has freedoms built-in that allow you to essentially do anything you want with it. When you publish with WordPress you know the content is truly yours and you won’t have to worry about issues of continuity or service interruptions (like if a social network or a proprietary blogging system goes out of business). This is great peace of mind!
TNW: What is an example of a basic setting or change that a WordPress customer can utilize to significantly increase what they get out of the service?
JS: All I can say is: “Screen Options”! We’ll walk through this in the workshop but I can’t tell you how many people and bloggers have not even customized those for maximum productivity (and to minimize distraction).
TNW: You’ve worked for big firms and small startups. What do you believe that one-man band bloggers and small teams can learn from bigger organizations and their processes?
JS: Honestly, not much. Some of the more strategic planning and editorial processes can help as you scale but most bloggers will never really needs these (or they’ll develop their own). What you can learn, if you can extract some high-level monetization methods, is the financial parts of running a content network. Other than that I think the smaller guys have all the advantage.
TNW: We know SEO is hugely important, but is it really realistic that a bloggers can significantly improve their rankings by themselves?
JS: Yes. By writing. Consistently. Honestly, that’s really the “secret sauce,” so to speak. Just write. Publish. Hit that button. And don’t give up.
TNW: Thanks, John. Is there anything else you want to share before the class?
JS: Bring your questions as I love that portion the best! I want to help you succeed so badly!
John’s class, “Optimizing WordPress for Maximum Productivity” features on TNW Academy on August 15 and is priced at $49. It promises to be a valuable opportunity to hear from one of the Web’s most respected authorities on WordPress, so sign up while you still can.