How To Find Free Blog Template Code

So long as you can use a search engine, it’s fairly easy to find a free blog template code to make your blog look good.

Remember that each blog service is different, so a WordPress template (or theme, as they prefer to call them) will take a lot of tweaking to make it work with a Blogger blog.

It’s a lot easier to narrow down your search to only return links to blog templates that match your particular blogging platform.

Of course, if you’re a wizard with HTML and have the spare time, you could design your own blog template code from scratch. But that’s not something that many people are comfortable with doing.

Most blogs come with a few standard blog templates. A standard WordPress installation will have a couple templates. Blogger has a larger number and you’re asked to choose your template in the new blog creation wizard.

Trouble is, these blog templates are so common it will look as though you haven’t put any effort into your blog if you use one of them.

Once you’ve typed in your search for your particular blog template, chances are that you’ll get hundreds of possible sites that you could choose from.

But even if you’ve used the word “free” in your search, that doesn’t mean that all (or even any!) of the templates you find on a particular site will actually be free for you to use. You see, sites know that you’re likely to be looking for free stuff and will construct their pages in such a way as to fool the search engines into showing their pages. A phrase like “we don’t offer free blog template code” will likely help the site to show up in a search for free templates.

So be careful – it’s easy to get hooked on a particular blog design and then suddenly find that when you click the “download” button you’re asked for money.

If the blog template code that you thought was free turns out to cost a few dollars, that may actually be a good thing. Since most fellow bloggers will be looking for true freebies, your blog could look more distinctive if you actually pay for a template. Ultimately, it’s your choice.

Find out more about how to find free blog template code and how to use your blog to best advantage. Learn the secrets of easy blogging.

Small Business Blog – Getting Started – WordPress Or Blogger

You have a business. You love it. And you want to share your knowledge on the internet to attract more customers and serve the ones you have. You can write and use spell check. (Of course you can, you have a business license.) Now how can you set up a web site? Is a blog too easy to look professional?

It depends. If don’t put any effort into the content and setup of your blog it will show. But good content and consistency can trump a flashy custom site. If you are technical enough to manage a web site, a good content management system like WordPress can speed you on your way to a professional looking blog. If the words “manage a web site” made you shudder, then a Blogger account might serve you better.

What are the differences between WordPress and Blogger? First of all, there are two ways to use WordPress, one is WordPress.com, which is non-commercial. So it is not an option for your small business. The other is WordPress, the software, which you can download for free from WordPress.org and set up on a host of your choosing. Blogger is hosted for you, and now gives you the option of registering a domain, which can be your business name (if available).

How do you setup a quick, attractive site on Blogger? It’s easy. Go to blogger.com, and create an account. If you already have a gmail account, or any other account with Google, you can use it. If not, choose Create Your Blog Now and follow the prompts. You’ll be able to name your blog and choose a template that suits the style of your business. If you feel like customizing your blog, you can do so. If that doesn’t interest you, you can start writing immediately.

If you want more control over your site, and are willing to pay for it and do a bit more technical work, consider WordPress with self hosting. You can get information on hosting requirements and instructions on nearly everything WordPress related at wordpress.org. Once you choose a host, you’ll need to register your domain, if you don’t already have one. If you choose to self host, remembering to make backups of your site is very important.

Why would you want to go to the trouble of finding a host, setting up everything yourself and being responsible for your backups? And why would you pay for what you can get for free? Customization is not free. If you want your blog site to have a design completely unique to you and your business, then you need to have full access to the server and all of your sites files. You will not get that with a free service. (Though, of the free blog hosting services, Blogger does allow javascripting.)

And there is your decision: Do you prefer ease of use or control? What is worth more to you and your business vision, customization or the ability to set up your site quickly without much technical knowledge?

Technology doesn’t need to be boring.

— Christine Decourlande

Blogging with WordPress

If you have decided that you might like to have a go at blogging whether as a pastime or as a potential business, there are quite a few programs out there that you can use free of charge (which makes a change!).

WordPress is one of the many free available software programs that allow you to set up a blog relatively quickly.

I think that WordPress for me has been one of the easiest things to use. I am not in the least technically minded and I do struggle with that side of things but for my money – or lack of it, WordPress is pretty easy to at least get going in a fairly basic way.

The only things you need in the short term are an email address and a username; you get a password and an activation code and can start up practically immediately. You can install it either via your hosting company or by FTP, if you know what that is!

If you have a Cpanel & Fantastico through your hosting company, there will usually be a facility there, or just make a search of the help files and find a WordPress install option. Depending on the hosting company it might be a simple one click installation. Whatever you do, keep a note of your database name, username and password. I keep mine in a text file on my desktop, just in case. You will also need to decide where to install the blog; it can either be in your domain root or in a subdirectory. You will usually get good support from your hosting company if you find it a struggle.

You can also install it via an FTP program, by downloading it to your computer and then uploading it to your server at your hosting company, but you need to create a database and change the configuration. The WordPress support is pretty good for all of this.

So what are the other advantages of WordPress? There are loads of templates which can easily be changed, you can put your posts into categories, do spell check, post text, audio and video files and get pretty neat statistical data. There is a facility to keep your blog private which can be important to some people and you can autosave and schedule your posts, which you may find useful if you are on a roll and post a number of entries that you want to publish over a few days.

I have found that the support offered to users is pretty good, important for those of us who are technically challenged and there are a number of active forums in which you can get help pretty much every hour of the day.

If you want quick free software to get a blog up, I don’t think you will go far wrong with WordPress at least on a basic level. Like everything else, there can be a lot to learn to get some of the more advanced features but you can be up and running pretty quick!

Create a Blog Site You Can Be Proud Of

To create a blog site worthy enough to attract repeat visitors and develop a blog following you need to really pay attention to detail when picking out a template, adjusting the template’s layout to your taste, and if you hire someone else to create it, you need to have a clear picture of what you want so you can be able to express to them what you need in your custom-made blog design.

In the early days of blogging, you could easily create any blog site, throw it up on the web, and blog to your heart’s content; and if you did most of your search engine optimization right, you stood a good chance of being successful. These days, with so much competition, if you don’t create a blog site that looks modern you’ll have one big strike against you. It’s all about the readers’ experience when they visit your blog site so you can keep them coming back for more, faithfully!

I’m a big fan of WordPress and Google’s “Blogger” when it comes to creating a blog site; both are effective, straightforward, and very easy to use. If you’re using WordPress, try to use a separate hosting plan such as Hostgator or any other inexpensive host with similar bang for your money; hosting plans are really cheap, but good nowadays! Although WordPress.com has free hosting like Google’s “Blogger,” at this time they don’t allow you to use AdSense ads unless you sign up for their VIP program, which is full of great features but very expensive.

Google’s “Blogger” is another great blogging platform and it’s free! The one drawback to Blogger is the in-house templates are a little outdated so you need to find one of the many free blogger templates available on the web. Blogger does allow you to put AdSense ads so this is the choice for the majority of bloggers starting out on the internet.

Once you create a blog site using WordPress or Blogger there are three areas you might want to adjust to your liking; the header, the sidebar, and the footer. Many WordPress templates allow you to replace the header with your own design and Blogger makes changing the header very easy! You can insert Google ads in your sidebar through HTML, and it’s a great idea to look at the footers on the bottom of other websites to figure out which type you like.

The bottom line is this; if you create a blog site you can be proud of, it will help inspire you to keep blogging and moving forward to success!

Open Source For Non-Profits

For the first seven years of my life I never had a baseball bat. In fact, nobody in the neighborhood had one. Simple reason was, we couldn’t afford one. Not about to let the kids in Jollyville, the rival neighborhood, get ahead, we put our heads together and came up with a solution. We broke off a few branches from a dead ocotillo cactus, placed a few large leafs over them and wrapped them together tightly together with fishing wire and, and voila, a functional bat. Not a Louisville slugger, but it got the job done. Over the course of one summer that was the bat that most of us learned how to hit with. Our ingenuity became the envy of the neighborhood. When I told my father about it, he smiled at said “well, the price was right.” In those tough economic times, the only price that was right was free. Sound familiar?

Over the next few years many small to mid-size non-profits and art centered project(s) will be facing severe financial cuts that, if not managed right, could lead to loss of revenue, exposure and messaging. Looking for ways to trim budgets while keeping the quality of organizations mission will be on the minds of most Executive Directors and boards. The natural tendency would be to scale back, downsize and “hunker” down. While this strategy may work for some aspects of business, I believe now is the time for smarter, more focused messaging, in particular, a new approach to an organization’s visual communication strategy. There has never been a better time to differentiate one’s organization or project from the crowd. New media technologies mean that you can spend less and do more if you are willing to consider a new approach.

The question is, however, how to do that in this chaotic economic environment. Having worked with non-profit and arts organizations for the last eight years I can testify that there is very rarely a shortage of ideas, but instead a shortage of resources available and allocated to make those ideas a reality. The question then becomes, are there alternative ways to achieve our visual communication goals without breaking the bank? While a conflux of unique circumstances has conspired to break our economy, another “perfect storm” has hit the digital creation marketplace, with much different results.

Let’s back up for a moment and take a look at some of the core ingredients that go into implementing an organizations visual communications strategy (note: at this point I am assuming the organization (or project) has already created an overall communications strategy). The focal point of most communications strategies is the web, as it serves as the main “hub” of your strategy, with all the other elements being the “spokes”, and they work together in concert to provide a cohesive and coordinated presentation to your targeted audience. Those elements would include your visual messaging (photography, graphic design), Multimedia presentations (podcasts, video, powerpoint) and print (brochures, annual reports). While there are many other elements that are often included, I think you’ll find them all sub-elements of the list above.

The budgetary requirement to implement a comprehensive plan with the elements outlined above is out of reach for most small non-profits or arts organizations. The catch 22 is, if you don’t implement your strategic plan what good is it to have one, and if you implement your plan but it breaks the bank, how can you justify it. My solution for smaller organizations is to embrace Open Source.

What is Open Source? Wikipedia defines it as “a development methodology, which offers practical accessibility to a product’s source (goods and knowledge). Some consider open source as one of various possible design approaches, while others consider it a critical strategic element of their operations.” In addition, Open Source also includes “OSS”, or Open Source Software, which is “defined as computer software for which the human-readable source code is made available under a copyright license (or arrangement such as the public domain) that meets the Open Source Definition. This permits users to use, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified form. It is very often developed in a public, collaborative manner. Open source software is the most prominent example of open source development and often compared to user generated content.” For the purposes of this discussion, we are going to focus on OSS, but framed under the overall banner of the “development methodology”, as I think this can be appropriated by organizations as well.

OSS can include everything from web design applications to complete Content Management systems. The software is free to use and modify, although there are often some fine print in terms of credit and distribution. Most of these programs are widely available on the internet and have a fair amount of documentation. The capabilities rival those from the commercial sector, and are often updated faster than their commercial counterpart because of the sheer size of the development pool and, because its users are its developers, there is an imbedded need for fast, real-time solutions.

The learning curve of these systems is fairly straightforward. Google and other information resources have made access to user-generated documentation and trouble shooting of most OSS software easy and accessible, which is one aspect that should reassure organizations considering going Open Source. One of its early shortcomings was the lack of customer support (and is one area where the commercial products still rule). But, in this age of shrinking financial resources, many organizations will have to rely on human-power to push agendas forward, so the thought of spending a few hours troubleshooting versus paying two-thousand a year for Customer Service Support doesn’t sound so daunting.

Some of the early challenges organizations that went Open Source encountered have diminished with its wide appeal. When OSS first arrived on the scene, many of the programs were inaccessible to those that were not coders or programmers. Additionally, the functionality operated about two years behind commercial products, making them somewhat irrelevant for those trying to do innovative and cutting edge work.

In today’s OSS environment, functionality is running about six months behind commercial software, and that gap is confined to only the most complex processes and functions. For the 90% of organizations there is relatively no difference between OSS and commercial software functionality.
Let’s examine one of the main leaders of Open Source software, and look at the practical implications for implementing your digital communications strategy.

WordPress

WordPress is the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on hundreds of thousands of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day. It started from a single piece of code and, thanks to the tens of thousands of developers who have contributed to it, has now grown into a (small) Content Management System that is more than capable for handling all of a small to mid-level organizations online needs.

Basically, WordPress works as a template system. Okay, I can hear the groans already. Like you, I have a severe dislike of templates as they are generally boring, uncreative and lack the type of innovation that I like my projects to encompass. WordPress’ template system is much different, however. I like to think of it as a “skeleton system”, providing the end user with a working prototype of their site within, say, 20 minutes, and allowing them to expand and build upon that skeleton to suite their own needs. Those with a PHP background can build their own templates from scratch, but I have found that there are more than enough base templates to allow for unlimited customization and creativity without having to build one from scratch.

The experience of setting up and using WordPress is about as straight forward and easy as a web platform can get. First, purchase your domain and set up your hosting plan. I use Bluehost, and I have been very happy with their service. They also provide something called Fantasico, which is a great script that will install OSS programs on your server with the touch of a button. Using Fantasico, is similar to setting up an email account, will allow you to have a fully functional version of WordPress installed and running on your site, all within about 15 minutes.

WordPress’ core functionality includes creating “pages”, which are static pages that you don’t expect to change much, like the usual “about” pages on websites. Also, and this is where WordPress really shines, allowing for dynamic blog posts, which you can display in infinite ways to your audience. Just about every other web function you can think of is handled by something called “plugins”. At last count, there are 3,124 plugins available at WordPress’ home page, and many more scattered throughout the web. On the Good Fight’s website, I am using 22 plugin’s from 22 different authors. They enable such functionality as dynamic contact forms, event calendars, social bookmarking for my readers, and on and on. Plugins are so amazing that I often find myself perusing the WordPress Codex for new and interesting plugins, whether for the Good Fight or for my personal blog. It’s a great way to keep fresh your audience’s experience at your site as well as improving functionality.

What really makes WordPress stand out is the fact that it’s “server side”, meaning the core files and application reside on your server, as opposed to a host computer. By contrast, when a designer or developer creates a site in Dreamweaver, they are working locally (on their computer) and uploading/publishing those HTML files onto your server. While this may work well for the individual, it can play havoc with an organization that does not have a Dreamweaver or web developer in house. Furthermore, the maintenance of a site is ongoing, and many times in smaller organizations this falls to the hands of an office manager. Without the knowledge of coding, or how a particular developer created a site, s/he is basically unable to properly maintain and update a website. Commercial programs like Contribute do an adequate job of proving some of these tools, but in my experience they are far too limiting in their functionality to be truly useful. Try re-editing a blog post and changing the color of the link text in Contribute and you’ll see why.

In WordPress, you can have unlimited numbers of users accessing the “guts” of the program, and you can assign levels of access to various users to “restrict” them from places on the site that are either private or risky for someone to be monkeying around in. For example, let’s say you want your administrative assistant to approve user comments made on your company’s blog post, and also update the sites “bio” page with a new staff member, and finally run a backup of the database should the server crash. In WordPress the process is simple: s/he logs in, hits a manger tab, opens up the page, pastes in the new bio, and hits publish; next s/he hits the “comments” tab and hits “approve” or “disapprove” to moderate the comments, and finally, to backup the database s/he simply hits “manage” and then “backup”, and WordPress starts an automated process. By contrast, should the same type of scenario play out with a traditional HTML site designed in Dreamweaver, it would be a much more complex and tedious process, and one fraught with more serious consequences should there be an error along the way.

Another element to the above situation is that these types of changes (and the thousands of other commands possible) can be implemented anywhere in the world where there is web access. You could, for example, have your communications director uploading a corporate report from home while one of your field executives posts a blog while at an airport. As I mentioned before, you can have as many users as you want, and each of those users can be given a “role”. It’s the ultimate way to manage your web site in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. Oh yeah, and it’s free.

From a design standpoint, many people feel “boxed” in by the template system. I know many developers who think their creativity is “stifled” by working within the framework of a Content Management System. While it does take some with CSS and PHP knowledge to properly customize a template, there are some great out of the box templates that costs less than a dinner for four at Outback steak house. And because of the extensive documentation at WordPress, and the easy to navigate interface, a design savvy person can learn the basics of template customization within a few weeks.

For extensive layout customization, however, I would recommend hiring a WordPress designer to tweak your template to your liking. Again, you have to weigh the time involved in learning PHP and CSS versus hiring. Up until now everything I’ve covered has been a minimal time investment. Comprehensive tweaking should be contracted. You’ll still be saving money in the long run, as the core functionality WordPress brings, along with its stability and usability, is virtually free. Compare that with a web developer creating something from the ground up, and I think you’ll see the costs savings.

WordPress is just one of the thousands of Open Source applications available to organizations and artists on the web. I choose to cover it over other simply because it has the capacity to serve as an organization’s visual communications “hub”, allowing for easy management and maintenance, and can create a framework for companywide involvement. Other OSS programs that I would recommend investigating:

Audacity – sound editing and effects
Blender 3D – 3D modeling and animation
Filezilla – ftp client
Ganttproject – scheduling, resource management, calendaring
Gimp – image manipulation
OpenOffice.org – office suite
VLC Media Player – media player + VLC Portable
Sitesucker – web site copier

In short, my solution for smaller organizations is to embrace Open Source (and contract with a consultant for some limited help with design and strategy). You can cut out thousands of dollars that have historically been spent on programming, technical support, intense re-design, and maintenance. CFO’s and ED’s should rest assured that, through embracing Open Source they should be able to stay competitive with the latest communications tools with minimal investment and risk. Open Source is not without its problems, but as my father would say, “the price is right.”
— Pablo Toledo

New WordPress 2.7 Dashboard


As we know WordPress 2.7 will be released on November 10. Currently WordPress has revealed some interesting stuffs about the upcoming version

As you may know, we’ve been working behind the scenes on the design and development of version 2.7 of the WordPress software that powers your blog. The administration interface you’re used to will be changing as a result of your feedback and the results of the usability testing we conducted over the summer. Version 2.7 is due to release officially on November 10, but in the meantime, we’re posting sneak previews of the look and functionality to come. So far we’ve covered the new navigation system and the new Dashboard.

Here is a brief list of features that you can expect at version 2.7:

  1. Menus
  2. Contextual Access Tabs
  3. Module Layout
  4. Right Now
  5. Stats
  6. Quick Press
  7. Recent Drafts
  8. Feeds
  9. Incoming Links
  10. Hooks
  11. Recent Comments
  12. Bye-Bye Inbox