Published in the June 2007 Issue (#17) Podcast User Magazine (Download)
Producing a podcast, whether it’s daily, weekly or whatever, is only half the battle. You’ll find that as well as having to concentrate on the audio side of things, you’ll need to spend a good portion of your time having to update the website, the RSS feed, and so forth, so anything that can help save you time has to be a good thing.
When I helped put together the Podcast User Magazine website, I knew instantly we were going to need something to cut the workload to a minimum, because although we are not a podcast, we still publish on a monthly basis and make use of RSS feeds. I plumped for Blogger, one of the many popular online blogging tools, primarily because it was free and it was also what I knew best at the time. However, as my own personal requirements grew, I soon realised that whilst Blogger is fine for occasional use, or for people new to blogging, its limitations are soon reached if you blog on a regular basis.
I know many people – one of our own star contributors, Mr Vobes, being one of them – have an aversion to blogging tools such as Blogger or WordPress. One of their main objections is that results can tend to look pretty much the same, or at least very similar. Whilst there are numerous templates available, it seems that many people seem to stick with the designs that come with WordPress, and I have to admit they’re not the most awe-inspiring designs. As well as focusing on blog-style content, WordPress also supports ‘static’ pages, which are pages that very rarely change (such as contact or product pages). Whilst this support is welcome, it’s not overly packed with features but does go a long way to making WordPress somewhat more flexible than Blogger and various other blogging tools.
So if you want to use WordPress, where do you begin? First off, you are going to need to install WordPress to your hosting site. If you are using Go-Daddy, BlueHost or any of the other full-featured hosting services, much of the hard work can be done for you. With Go-Daddy, for instance, you can log into your account, choose WordPress from the list of applications available, fill in a few boxes and – voila! – your new WordPress blog is installed. If your hosting service does not support auto-installation, it is a matter of downloading WordPress, unarchiving it, uploading to your hosting service and running the installation script. Full details are available on the WordPress site.
The next step is deciding on the look of your shiny new WordPress blog. WordPress usually comes with a few sample themes for you to choose from, but there are many thousands of free and commercial themes available. Remember that just because you select a template for your blog, it doesn’t mean you can’t customize the template to incorporate your own design ideas. This can seem a little daunting if you do not have any experience with HTML (the code that makes up a web page), but to those who are familiar with HTML, this can be relatively straightforward, depending on the template’s complexity.
Once your blog is installed and ready to roll, the next thing you will probably want to do is install some of the most popular plugins. These are little pieces of code that extend the functionality of WordPress. There are many different plugins available, but I will touch on a few of the most popular and free ones that I have now installed on many of the blogs I manage. There’s no shortage of others for you to investigate.
1. Podpress : This is practically a no-brainer for podcasters. It enables full support for podcasts within post entries and also takes care of all the RSS feed issues.
2. FireStats : An excellent plugin, providing detailed stats on what is being read and downloaded.
3. SpamKarma : The ultimate spam-killer for WordPress
4. WP-Cache : Protects the web server from high-volume page views. This is a life-saver if a site is featured on Digg or similar news sites.
5. WP Database Backup : A fantastic plug-in that not only backs up a database but also emails it to you; it can also be set to do this automatically every day.
There is a whole gamut of plugins to choose from, many of them depend on the kind of blog you are running. Check out the links at the end of this article.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this whistle stop intro to WordPress.
Go forth and be productive. If you have any favorite themes or plugins, please feel free to drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org