What started out as a private online diary in the mid-90s has evolved and, over the last ten years, finally reached almost every niche of the online and business world. Blogging has become a major part of many companies’ public relations and marketing channels, as it allows them to establish a direct connection to their customers. And, especially for small or non-profit companies, blogging offers great advantages for very little expenses. The question of whether to blog or not is nowadays discussed in almost every company environment, typically as part of a broader social media strategy.
WordPress is probably the most popular and advanced web software when it comes to blogs. In fact, the majority of all hosted blogs and websites have WordPress running under their hoods. And that’s for a good reason.
Recently, the publishers of Packt Publishing asked me to review their book “WordPress 3 for Business Bloggers” written by Paul Thewlis and published in December of last year. Let’s see if this book helps to answer the most important questions about publishing a successful business blog.
Teaching the Basics
Paul Thewlis has written a good introductory book when it comes to WordPress and blogging, especially for novices. Unfortunately, this is not apparent from either the book title or the description and so, my first impression of the book did not exactly meet my “business” expectations on the first reading.
Nevertheless, in covering the basics, Thewlis has done a good job. Most people with a blogging or WordPress background will already know the fundamentals, but Thewlis ensures that beginners are not left out with good coverage of blogging and WordPress basics. The first and second chapters, in particular, need to be mentioned here.
Choosing the Audience
I really liked that Thewlis went beyond the simple “why to blog” question and offered a wider perspective on what is possible by showing good recent examples that are helpful for businesses to identify the own strategic goals and finally end up with a reasonable blogging plan. He is not only asking the important questions, but also trying to help readers answer them for their own businesses in an appropriate manner.
That said, as the book focuses on the basics and attempts to create a (for the purposes of the book, absolutely legitimate) fictitious WordPress Business Guru, it may not deliver what its title and description promises for already experienced WordPress users and bloggers, as well as for more mature companies.
In the end, this doesn’t hurt the book that much as the main target of the book is clearly beginners. For them, Thewlis describes in depth how to set up a local WordPress environment in order to get used to the software. He introduces all the basics that are necessary to start and extend a WordPress installation with the most common and useful plugins. He not only describes them, but also provides nice, handy usage examples.
The only thing that can be regarded as a bit inappropriate is, from my point of view, the third chapter, where he covers the design aspects of blogs and tries to give an introduction to CSS. I can imagine that for inexperienced users, this rough overview will be more confusing than helpful; it would have been better to instead help these users to understand the broader background of Web design. Novices will end up just copying the code while people who already know about CSS and Web design will simply skip this chapter part. In the end, neither of the two groups benefits.
So, what’s the final verdict? Thewlis covers a very broad range of topics in his book and he provides valuable insights about WordPress, especially for beginners. This is very good for those who are looking for an overview of what is possible and necessary. Thewlis delivers everything that is necessary to put these users on the right track and equip them with the basics of starting a blog.
At the end, blogging is about gaining trust and credibility. That’s the one thing missing in Thewlis’ book: the most important factor in blogging is the individual. Companies don’t blog; people blog. And it is all about them when it comes to creating a successful and credible blog.