Author Archives: Dollars

Finding Good WordPress Themes for Writers

best-wordpress-themes-for-writers-finding-quality-top-graphic Finding the best WordPress themes for writers isn’t easy. In fact, it can be downright frustrating. Browsing through theme directories or scrolling through a huge WordPress theme gallery can be a daunting and unproductive task. Throw in the fact that the average screenshot graphic picture doesn’t really give you much of an idea how the theme actually works (does it have drop down menus, does it use lots of custom functions, does it require plug-ins, does it use too much JavaScript, and so on) and you have a recipe for a lot of wasted time that could be better used writing great high-quality content for your freelance writing business website.

Another option is to find a website dedicated to WordPress or to web design and search for articles listing their Top 10 WordPress themes, or their favorite “clean” WordPress themes, or magazine themes, or whatever. The catch to this approach is that you never really know the motivation of the author who wrote the article, or how hard they really looked into it before creating their post. After all, best WordPress theme posts are popular and with the right search engine optimization and linking, they can also be search engine traffic goldmines. This is likely why you see a lot of the same themes show up in post after post about which themes are the best. Ironically, I’ve seen the same WordPress themes listed in articles about the Top WordPress themes for Personal Bloggers and Top WordPress themes for corporate blogs, although one might assume that such criteria would generate differing lists.

The worst part is that some WordPress developers have built themes for writers based, not on experience as a writer, or based on a writer’s specifications, but based on what they imagine a writer to be. Unfortunately, it appears that “writer” conjures up images of 15 year-old girls writing angst filled poetry in their bedrooms without a thought in their heads about money or worldly possessions. Either that, or some “screw the money” hard-boiled journalist who just wants to get the truth out there without having to go through a pin-headed editor.

A real freelance writer wants a WordPress theme that makes it easy to WRITE without all of that other stuff getting in the way, not as the developers assume, a theme that makes it easy to READ without all of those pesky revenue generating ads and passive income generating affiliate links.

Open note to WordPress developers looking to make a new WordPress theme for writers: We are GOOD at what we do. That means that we don’t have any fear that some ads or graphics are going to overshadow the text we write for our websites. We don’t need empty. We need profitable, easy, and customizable. Oh, and also, don’t do things that makes it look like stuff we wrote awhile ago is now junk. With the exception of current events, we try and write content that will stand the test of time.

Where to Find Best WordPress Themes For Writing Websites

The best bet is to find a respected and trusted WordPress resource. That way, at least you know the list of themes they generate is probably a good starting point for your WordPress theme search, if nothing else. Try websites like Smashing Magazine and Hongkiat for starters. If you are a little more familiar with computers, coding, HTML, and the like, a great resource is Cats Who Code. Of course, be sure to watch the dates!

A quick interruption to plug my latest Credit Card Rewards Reviews articles…

WordPress updates pretty fast, and the best WordPress themes for version 2.6 might not be the best WordPress themes for version 2.9. Worst case scenario, some themes might be so out of date that they actually don’t function properly with WordPress any more. Even if the theme does work, that doesn’t mean it is ideal. Many great WordPress themes include features that were added on by the theme developer to address a short coming in the main WordPress release. However, WordPress tends to eventually incorporate the best feature ideas and suggestions, so these band-aids can actually become a determinant to a site’s speed and compatibility.

WordPress itself maintains a WordPress Theme Directory, and there are tons of others as any Google search will reveal. There are plenty of free WordPress themes out there that are high-quality. Until you have built and run a couple of blogs for awhile, stick with those. What you think you want today will almost certainly not be what you need once you really understand what you are doing.

As it turns out, however, the absolute best way to find awesome WordPress themes is to check out the ones your favorite websites already are using. All it takes is a little knowledge to know how to tell what WordPress theme any website is using.

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Best SEO Optimized WordPress Themes for Writers

best-seo-optimized-wordpress-themes-for-writers-graphic The guys over at WordPress Hacks recently updated their ever popular best free WordPress themes article for 2010 and that got me thinking again about all of the themes I’ve looked through. In the ongoing quest to find the best WordPress themes for writers I’ve looked at TONS of WordPress themes, and I do mean TONS. I’ve looked at free WordPress themes, I’ve looked at premium WordPress themes, I’ve looked at theme frameworks, I’ve looked at WordPress Photoshop template files, I’ve looked at empty themes, basic themes, and yes, even themes that claim to be great WordPress themes for writers. The good news is that means that I have a lot of experience with what is out there for good WordPress themes to use for professional writers. The bad news is that the reason I have looked through so many different WordPress themes is because I still haven’t found the perfect theme, yet.

I could do like everyone else does and just compile a bunch of links to good WordPress themes. I could even give it a really great SEO optimized title like 25 Best WordPress Themes for Writers. But, in an effort to perhaps speed along the development of quality WordPress themes for writers to use, I decided to compile a list of the best features a WordPress theme can have to make it useful for writers, and frankly, everyone else too.

Search Engine Optimized – SEO Ready WordPress Themes Required

Let’s get real here for a minute. Professional writers are professional writers because they get paid for what they do. Writing professionally isn’t easy, and quality writing and quality website content are valuable commodities. Running a freelance writing business website is a lot more profitable if people actually see it. As Han Solo once said, "I ain’t in this for your revolution, Highness. I expect to be well paid."

While there are numerous reasons a pro writer might create and publish a website, every one of those reasons succeeds or fails on a single criteria, getting enough traffic driven to the website in order to see all those webpages filled with high-quality professional writing. Leaving aside the debate about whether or not content is king when it comes to search engine rankings, one thing is clear, unless you have the means to manually drive readers to your website, you’ll need to grab search engine traffic to establish a readership. And, the way to a searcher’s heart, is through the first page of Google search results.

Check out the latest on credit card rewards programs at Finance Gourmet…

A few years ago, an Internet expert and SEO guru named Court published a list of top SEO problems in WordPress themes. He was right on the money, and it was a hit. At first, only the best WordPress themes were properly search engine optimized.  It took a while, but soon the entire WordPress developer community was cranking out SEO-optimized WordPress themes. Today, only the lowest quality WordPress themes make the basic SEO errors that Court outlined in his post.

The problem is that developers have stopped there. The last was called the most basic SEO errors committed in WordPress themes for a reason; they were the BASIC SEO ERRORS. They were not the ONLY SEO errors made in WordPress themes. So, while most quality themes now exploit Google’s overdependence on being told what is "important" on a webpage via header tags — that’s the H1, H2, H3 tags in your theme’s code — by making a post’s title the H1 element instead of the blog’s name. However, many themes still do not handle H2, H3, and H4 properly. Just making everything else H2 is NOT good SEO practice.

Some of the SEO issue in WordPress has been solved by the platform’s extensibility in the form of plug-ins. The most common SEO plugins for WordPress are All-In-One SEO plugin (outstanding SEO in it’s name, BTW), and Headspace2 (not so good on the SEO, but more "brandable"). These plug-ins allow webmasters and authors to easily set certain SEO parameters automatically, or make it easier to set them manually. These SEO WordPress plugins will ensure that your title tag is the same as you post title unless you set it otherwise, for example.

So, what else does a high-quality WordPress theme for writers need?

That’s coming up next…

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HubPages AdSense Revenue Increasing May Be Worthwhile Yet

As most of you know, I have from time to time thrown a bit of effort into a writers profile of sorts at HubPages as Hub Llama. For the most part, this experiment has served just three purposes. The first, is to determine what if any leverage can be achieved by using HubPages to build backlinks to my other online projects. The second, is to have a sort of catch-all place where I can write quick, unpolished, articles that do not fit into one of my other websites or online businesses. The third, is to experiment with keywords, because HubPages pulls a bit of traffic and ranking on its own, so one can sometimes get a quicker feel for what variations of a key phrase or set of keywords might be the most profitable.

As nothing more than a potential side benefit, I have also followed the possibility that Hubs published on HubPages produce passive income online by themselves, though I have not made this any sort of focus in my endeavors over there.

In order to monitor profits from HubPages and determine whether there is any value in pursuing attempting to make money writing online at HubPages, I have, of course, installed my Google AdSense number on HubPages and linked the HubPages AdSense to Google Analytics. So far, the results haven’t been all that inspiring. It isn’t that Hubs don’t get traffic, they do. The problem is that the ads on HubPages don’t just draw from your Hub’s content, but also, seemingly, from Hubs around them, or from the overall HubPages domain itself.

What that means, when it comes right down to actual AdSense data for HubPages is that most clicks pay very low amounts, even for Hubs that are about topics and similar in content to webpages elsewhere that earn much higher CPC. For example, I often see something like $0.07 for a single click on a newer hub which make analyzing how much each click pays easier. A similar webpage on a related topic on a different site, or on one of my more carefully crafted sites, will pull down something like $0.35 to $1.00 for the same kind of clicks. Add in the fact that HubPages displays your ads 60% of the time, and you have a recipe for some low earnings.

However, today, I happened to notice a single click take down well over $2.00 on a topic where that would be considered a good amount anywhere. Now, that is just the one time, but it does raise the question. If the right topics were written about, and enough of the low-paying CPC advertisers could be filtered out in the AdSense competitive ad filter, could HubPages be a bigger source of monthly income?

We’ll find out soon enough. I’m going to launch my 100 Hubs in 10 Days Challenge soon, and I’m going to hit several “juicy” topics along the way. Between the extra linking, the HubRank pushed inevitably toward 95+, and my own backlinking and promo-ing, there just might be enough sizzle to see some real dollars earned on HubPages.

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Amazon Associates Cuts Off Colorado Affiliates Over New Sales Tax Law

MC900189265[1] A new Colorado law to force Amazon to collect sales taxes resulted in Amazon Associates being terminated in Colorado.

The law was crafted to get around a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that states that a retailer need collect state imposed taxes on sales only if the retailer has a significant enough physical presence in the state, or a “nexus” of business in the state. Since Colorado can not directly compel Amazon to collect sales taxes, the state instead passed a law deliberately making it nuisance to do business with residents of Colorado.

Technically, whenever a person makes an online purchase, they still owe the sales tax due on that purchase even if the online vendor does not collect the tax directly. The customer is legally obligated to voluntarily forward the appropriate sales tax payment directly to the state, which, of course, never happens. The new Colorado sales tax law states that for any sales made via Colorado residents who participate in the Amazon Associates program to customers whose purchases are shipped to a Colorado address, Amazon must mail a letter to the customer stating the amount of sales tax the customer owes.

Colorado Sales Tax Law Designed To “Get Around” The Constitution

What makes this new Colorado law so slimy and underhanded is how disingenuous it is. Both the State of Colorado and Amazon know that sending these letters will not result in any significant increase in the amount of sales taxes collected by the state. In fact, the only real effect of the legally required letters will be to waste more paper, and increase the cost of doing business in Colorado for Amazon. The legislation’s supporters hoped the law would be such a burden that Amazon would choose to just collect the sales taxes for the state instead. In other words, the legislature deliberately passed a law that they didn’t want anyone to follow in order to make companies do something that the state cannot legally force them to do. It’s a trick worthy of the sneakiest con artist.

The law is also decidedly self-serving since it only compels online retailers to notify residents of how much state sales tax they owe. There is no requirement to notify residents of any city or local taxes that they might owe on their purchases!

Of course, Amazon has no intention of implementing such a burdensome procedure. To track which sales were made via Colorado based Amazon affiliates, and then match those sales to shipping addresses in Colorado, and then to mail those residents letters telling them how much state sales tax they owed, would be a big logistical challenge, even if the company did want to comply with the law.

Instead, Amazon responded the same way it has in the past, by terminating the participation of Colorado residents in the Amazon Associates program, just like it did in Rhode Island and North Carolina. (A similar law in New York was challenged with a lawsuit. Presumably, Amazon would end its New York program if they lose the lawsuit.) Colorado lawmakers seemed surprised or dismissive of the program termination in their state, calling it a publicity stunt. Apparently, these legislators can’t be bothered to research the laws they are passing before they vote on them or they would have seen what happened in the other states that did the same thing.

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