When a Blog grows up and becomes a Real Website

One of the greatest things about building your site in WordPress (self-hosted) is that there will always be room to grow.

Those of us who have been in the game for a while can easily remember a time when WordPress was very little more than a blogging platform, competing with services like TypePad and Moveble Type.  Sure, even then you could hack into the code base and create some pretty wild things, if you knew your .php and CSS, but a website platform, it was not.

Back then, we built some pretty cool-looking blogs, but for customers needing a website with a blog, the done thing was to build the site in .html with a few .php elements, and then hang a WordPress blog installation off of it, and skin them up so that they looked like the same installation.  (Oh boy, I don’t miss those days!)

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Here’s a really great example of a blog converted over to a site:  Rewire Your Brain For Love is a project we helped launch a couple of years ago.  Neuropsychologist Dr. Marsha Lucas was fixing to write a book combining the disciplines of neuroscience and neuroplasticity with mindfulness meditation, to teach readers how to literally rewire their brains to improve their relationships and ultimately, their lives.  Pretty cool project, we thought, as we sat down to come up with a long-term web strategy.

Like many grass roots projects, we had a moderate budget to work with, and so we decided to put together a blog, built on WordPress so that Dr. Lucas could compose and publish her own posts, and we took on growing her Twitter channel while she labored with her book.

This strategy worked very well.  We were able to quickly grow up her Twitter channel (who knew there would be thousands of people on Twitter actively interested in Neuroscience??), regular blog posts help drive the search engine traffic we needed for the site, and luckily, the sort of visitor her content was attracting was precisely the sort interested in signing up for a monthly newsletter in exchange for a Mindfulness Meditation audio download.  Interestingly enough, we’ve had very few unsubscribes to the newsletter list, which proves that it pays to put some serious energy into producing a high-quality monthly newsletter.

It wasn’t long before we had 22,000 Twitter followers, hundreds of whom were actively engaged in Dr. Lucas’ content, her site traffic blew up into the thousands every week, and she was being retweeted and @ mentioned by prominent figures in her field.  The strategy we put into place helped provide a good showing, leading her to the publishing deal she was shopping for, and with the book’s release date fast approaching, we found it time again to move into the final phase of the marketing strategy: preparing the site for launch.  (Incidentally, the books’ release date is Feb 1, 2012.)

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The site had originally been built as a blog.  The home page was simply the main blog page.  There was an “About” page, and a couple of other informational pages, but it was still just a blog at its core.  So with this in mind, we moved to update the site’s “look and feel” to give it more legitimacy.  We also created a new “Home” page, which would act as little more than a landing page created with one purpose: to sell the book.  The blog posts were moved back into the Blog tab, and all of the other informational pages, which had been used to attract attention and generate interest, were now pushed to the back, to make way for the new sales page.

Before WordPress, this would really have been two projects.  Two websites.  A pre-release website, and a post-release website.  With WordPress, we can create a long-term content strategy, and turn it around on a dime, or make adjustments as we measure traffic and other results on a budget affordable to any small business.

What makes Dr. Marsha’s site work, besides being built on WordPress, is its minimalist design approach, easy navigation, and really great content.

Check out the new, relaunched Rewire Your Brain for Love site.

Follow Dr. Marsha Lucas on Twitter.

Site design by Pausha Foley

“Badass” WordPress Logo by Jon Cazier

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