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Branding you and your website with WordPress – Part Two

Was-Your-Website-Built-Many-Years-Ago-If-So-It-May-Be-Time-For-A-Facelift

Welcome back to the ongoing blog series of branding you and your website! This is the beginning of a series of blog posts about branding an idea, whether it be: novel, comic book, on-line comic or gardening blog and getting a website either through WordPressWordPress.com or any other platform like Squarespace.com

For those who missed Part Zero and One.

Branding your website!

You have the name of the website for your brand and it’s not taken so now what?

This is where things can get a little inside baseball. You have two options:

1. Self host through a hosting company like Site5.com, Godaddy.com or a slew of others.

2. Go through a third party like WordPress.com or Squarespace.com or Wix.com or Blogger.

The reason I said not to buy a domain name is because you can get your domain name from just about anywhere.

Before purchasing a domain name, you should be scrutinized each hosting company to see the following:

1. Their up time.

2. Their fees.

3. Their tech support.

This is also where you need to decide if you like to get your hands dirty or let someone else do all the heavy lifting.

Personally, I have four self hosted domains that I have to re-register every two to three years and one email address per domain.

It’s low maintenance unless the host has a bad day and then it becomes me and thousands of millions are having a bad day.

It’s perfectly fine to go with WordPress.com or Sqaurespace.com or Wix.com for your website needs.

I’ll say it again: It’s perfectly fine.

In fact I encourage it because they do all the heavy lifting and it’s one stop shopping when the bills come in to re-up your domain name.

Going this route also kneecaps a few things like adding plug-ins or themes and even controlling your SEO but if you don’t want to worry about any of that techno babble then I whole heartily recommend a third party and pay them annual fee to get a domain name.

User Interface and Dashboards

I’m going to touch on user interface for a moment.

User Interface or UI can either make or break your experience with your hosting provider and your platform.

It’s why companies try to be replicate Apple only to end up with Windows 8.

In the case of your platform, the dashboard is what you’ll be looking at. Is it easy to follow? Is everything spelled out properly?

WordPress.com has a similar dashboard to the self hosted WordPress platform and Squarespace is for the most part mirroring WordPress.com in some aspects so either way you go you’re getting a good dashboard that helps you as a user and doesn’t make you call technical support to find out where things go.

new-wordpress-dashboard
WordPress dashboard

 

squarespace dash
Squarespace dashboard

There are hosting services like Blogger, WordPress.com, Wix, that’ll offer free websites so long as you don’t mind their name in the address.

If there’s an annual fee of under $20 to get rid of that host name, guess what? You’re paying them to get rid of their name from your address.

You should also make sure you’re not granting the host permission to use your work in any way. Googling copy write infringement and the host name should help.

The reason I’m harping on domain names is it’s going to be on your business cards, flyers and on your call to action page if you’re an author.

You want a clear and concise domain name.

If you self host the email address that comes with the domain can also serve as a back up, something we’ll be touching on later.

Once you find a website address that’s available then you buy it and host it, it’s time to go to every single social media site and grab a username similar to your brand.

Yes, social media is your friend.

Really. It is. Honest.

If you’re Facebook phobic or have no idea what a tweet or tumblr post is guess what? Yer about to learn. Why?

Your brand is not social media phobic. Why?

Social media is a free soap box. And so long as you advertise your brand right you won’t have any problems.

I’ll say it again: So long as you advertise right, you won’t have any problems.

If you’re advertising the same product every three hours you’re doing no one any good and your small amount of good will with complete strangers just dried up.

Facebook. Twitter. Tumblr. Instagram. Pintrest. Google+

Why do this? Because your audience is everywhere and so should your brand . . . at least within reason.

Good real life example: I switched my screenwritinghack user name on LiveJournal to rkbwrites to mirror my rkbwrites.com blog. I pivoted away and refocused my brand so it was consistent.

Consistency is the name of the game.

Next up email!

Branding you and your website with WordPress, Part One

Welcome back to the ongoing blog series of branding you and your website! This is the beginning of a series of blog posts about branding an idea, whether it be: novel, comic book, on-line comic or gardening blog and getting a website either through WordPress, WordPress.com or any other platform like Squarespace.com

For those who missed Part Zero, it can be found – here.

Reading this post assumes you have a name for your brand.

For the sake of conversation I’m going to stay your brand a lot.

Your brand can be a novel, comic, website, a pyramid scheme or any other type of thing you need a website for.

Once you’ve checked Google to make sure your name isn’t taken we move onto . . .

Part One of Branding you and your website!

What do we do now?

We would generally register the name with a domain registrar so you can claim your little space of pixel grass on the internet for a website.

I say generally because we’re not going to do that quite yet.

Yes Dorothy, websites are still relevant.

If anyone tells you a website is passé and social media sites is where it’s at, feel free to knee them in the nards.

That’s not the graphic designer in me, that’s honesty.

And, speaking of honesty, do you really want to pay to buy back your domain name? Nope.

Remember, even if your audience is on social media it doesn’t mean they’re all on social media.

Social media like blogging has certain stink to it as of late but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a website to go along with your Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google + and Pintrest account.

All of those accounts should funnel back to your brand’s website.

Social media is just one leg of the stool you’re trying to make.

So, what makes a good website? A good address.

How does one find out if a website address is taken?

Swing by register.com or whois.com.

Get your list of names and start typing them in one at time. Which names aren’t taken?

And what name makes a good, short address?

Again, simplicity is the key. Don’t over think it.

Your brand name should be in the address or some variation.

A few good examples of branding in website addresses: CNN. QVC. MSNBC. PvP Online. Penny Arcade. Machall. Megatokyo. Questionable Content. LfGComic. Sequential Art. Cartoon Frolics.

These are some good addresses. Most are short n’ sweet. They fit well on your brand’s business card.

Yes, http://www.yourname.com is perfectly fine too and is completely taken judging from whois.com

A good real world example of branding is to using your initials.

During my senior year at NEIT we had reached the point in graphic design courses where our teachers had us brand ourselves.

I decided to go with Studio ’75.

My first branding attempt.

I went through a few iterations of the name and settled on something.

One of my branding attempts...

And then I looked it up on Google. Guess what?  It was taken!  As you can see – here.

So, I went with simplicity: RKB Writes and RKB Studios.

RKB Studios’ current logo:

header 2014-01

It’s perfectly fine to add a verb in there like Mattshoots if you’re photographer.

The reason I keep harping on your address is one simple thing: Where does your brand’s website rank on Google?

Yes, Dorothy, google is a verb.

You’re potential customers shouldn’t have to go to Facebook or Twitter to find your brand’s website.

The website for your brand whether it be an on-line comic, novel or pot hole filling class has to show up on google or no one will ever find you.

Getting back to you searching register.com and whois.com for names….should you impulse buy your awesome brand domain name now?

Nope.

What you should be doing is making an excel sheet of domain registrars, their renewal costs and stumbling down that lovely rabbit hole called:

Who should host my awesome brand website!

We’ll cover this and alternative hosting options next time…

Branding you and your website with WordPress, Part Zero

branding

Welcome to the first post about branding yourself and your website using WordPress.

My name is R. K. Bentley and if you found this site then you can see I run a freelance graphic design studio, RKB Studios. It’s here where I specialize in WordPress installations, rebranding and general website design.

I’ve decided to start a blog here and not over on my personal blog, RKB Writes, because I feel branding with WordPress is better suited for the design site.

Why a blog series on branding?

Many would-be entrepreneurs have no business plan or branding idea until after they’re spend time on getting their name out there only to then walk back and build themselves up.

The business plan begins with an idea.

This idea needs a name.

A name for: A comic book. A novel. A gardening website.

Any sort of business wants repeat customers to visit a spiffy looking website.

But how do you get there?

My goal is to give you an overview of how to start things without getting too much into the weeds. So these posts will be simple read while giving you enough information.

I should mention these posts are not a be all and end all. I am not lawyer nor do I play one on t.v..

Some of this may sound familiar on occasion due to hearing suggestions on podcasts, books or other websites. I’ll link back when I can.

Step 0

Brand?

Why do I need a brand myself?

A.) Because even Apple, IBM, Google and Stephanie Meyers had to start somewhere.

B.) You get this step out of the way now you don’t have to do it later.

This’ll be the hardest step and a time sink but once you have a name for the comic, novel or underwater basketweaving site you can move on.

At least you can move on when you find the name hasn’t been taken.

Even if you re-brand later, people will remember you as (brand name) person. No pressure. Nope. None at all.

Once you have a brand name, write down a few more suggestions and few more after that.

It is always best to have an extra name just in case someone has taken it.

Once you google the name and find no one has taken the website then you buy the domain name and start looking for the next coveted name spot: social media.

Yes, I said social media.

Social media is not as bad as it sounds because: that’s where your audience is.

And why are they there?

Simple.

Social media is free.

It’s the 80’s computer bulletin board system (BBS…ask your parents) all over again just with a better User Interface (UI).

In closing, what makes a good name?

Simplicity makes a good name.

Make a list of names for your brand in either Excel or on paper & pencil. Find ones that aren’t taken.

This may take a good long time and it should. No one said this job was easy. If it was easy then everyone would be doing it.

Once you have your name it leads to the . . .

Next Step

Next time, we’ll cover: I have a name now what?

Rah-Coco’s Collectables

Regan Hurst, owner of Rah-Coco’s Collectables was in need a website overhaul.

Instead of using my original and now out of date Dreamweaver creation, it was felt WordPress would better suit his needs with it’s dynamic page design and social networking plugins.

Images from the store along with information from Mister Hurst helped give users enough information about the store.

An event page covering in store events like Free Comic Book Day was created and pre-made assets from a local artist was used.