WordPress FAQ: What's up with the Amazon Plugin with WP 2.1.x?

How do I use the new version of the Amazon plugin? It never brings up what I am looking for and its very annoying. I want to be able to use it the way it was before the WP upgrade.

This question comes from Shannon Nelson who is complaining about the new version of WP-Amazon. Many of the blogs at b5 are product based or have a strong connection to products and so the WP-Amazon plugin is a favorite among affiliate bloggers.

The problem is that the new version of WP-Amazon, though still beta, leaves a large chunk of the less technical population behind. Based on the plugin site, I’m confident that the issues will be resolved by the time this version comes out of beta, however until then we’re stuck with it. The stable version of the plugin does not work on any of the WP 2.1.x branch and the beta preview version is only compati ble with Firefox 2, Opera 9 and (I think) Safari. Internet Explorer users are the big losers here.

Stay tuned tot he plugin page for news on future releases and we’ll be proactively monitoring and upgrading here at b5media.

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WordPress FAQ: How Do I combine Blogs?

This morning, one of our bloggers posted a question in our internal forum. She was seeking guidance on how to take a few (three) blogs and combine them. I provided three solutions for her and decided, in the process, that I would kick start my braindead blogging (lately) into a mini-series of WordPress FAQ questions. Feel free to email your question to me at aaron [at] b5media [dot] com.

The question is:

I’ve wanted to have a personal blog (and really collate my 3 personal blogger blogs into one) and I’m looking at WP but I don’t want to have the “*blog*.wordpress.com” attached. Can I do this with a free blog, or do I necessarily have to buy one?

There are three different possible solutions I see to your problem, Grace. Each one, naturally, has a different difficulty level based on your technical confidence. As is always the case, the most cmplicated solution will probably give you the most flexibility long term. In all three cases, you’re looking at having to use WordPress.com as a go between to bring Blogger blogs in, then export as WordPress-formatted XML file, then import into WordPress via the built in WordPress 2.1 importer (or use mine if you’re on 1.5 or 2.0).

Combine all three blogs into a homogenous blog

The first solution would be to simply import all your blogs into WordPress and get all your content into one place. In my experience and observation, this will give you a solid platform that is still easy to use while giving you some probable SEO benefits. It seems that search engines tend to like WordPress blogs more than Blogger blogs.

Difficulty Level: Easy
Pro: Simple WP install, simple maintenance, familiar WP usage.
Con: You concede the ability to separate out the blogs as individual entities within the blog.

Single Blog, Broken out by Category

This is a similar approach to the first. You essentially bring all your content into the new WordPress blog. However, this time, instead of just having a lump amount of posts, assign a category to each post from each blog (i.e. Blog1, Blog2, Blog3). In this way, you will be able to massage your template using WordPress’

1
in_category()

tag to determine what gets shown on each page. While this does not directly preserve each blog (all the content is part of the single WordPress install), you can achieve the appearance of multiple blogs and have the ease of the single WordPress admin.

Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Pro: Simple WP install, single WordPress admin, template flexibility
Con: Blog content is still managed as a single group of posts separated only by category iearchies.

WordPress MU

WordPress MU is the multi blog format of WordPRess. It supports multiple blogs and multiple administrative bloggers. In essence, you can power all three of your blogs from one single install of MU. If you need the actual flexibility of actual separate blogs, this is probably the right choice for you. However, it does have significant drawbacks.

Difficulty: Hard
Pro: Extreme flex. Lots you can do, lots of added perks from standard WordPress. Probably good for blog network level stuff or when five or more blogs are being managed.
Con: MU is quite tricky to setup. It has made significant strides in recent months, but it is nowhere near as polished as WordPress itself. It also requires some digging in the WPMU forums to find answers to questions like how to make MU respond to top level domains (i.e. http://example.com as opposed to http://example.mysite.com). Also will require a degree of systems level knowledge and comfort.

Whatever you choose, I’m confident WordPress is the right choice for you. Obviously, we have a system here that sings along on individual WordPress installs and we have had great success.

What questions do you have? Email them to me. Keep them WordPress related. :-)

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Business Plan Series: Part 3 – Corporate Overview

Last time we discussed the importance of analyzing the market and setting up the problem(s) that exist so you can address.

Some cases you will want to answer in a shorter format what your company does and the problems it is fixing. This also the time to discuss vision and overall goals. This is what many call the “Company Overview”. Think of it like a birds-eye view of the company as it currently exists and where you envision it to be in the future. This is almost a quasi executive summary because you are trying to tie a number of elements into a picture that people understand and see where you are coming from.

You need to include the following things:

Company Description – This is a paragraph or two that is the core message and history of the company and if people read only this they should get what you are trying to do.
Mission – What are the guiding vision points for this company? Provide X, Support Y?
Goals and Objectives - This is the place for major milestones including revenue, customers and other important metrics.
Structure – This is for legal and tax structure plus owners/stockholders
Core Competencies - This is to close up the section with powerful value propositions and differentiators that will go into more depth in the the sales and marketing section. Right now it is about showing that you have the resources and wherewithal to build the business.

You might also want to include investor and company highlights to build the story you are trying to tell.

NEXT TIME: PRODUCTS AND SERVICES - After you have explained how compelling the problems and needs are and your vision for the company you will need to discuss the solutions your company provides to answer the problem.

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