Using your own domain on WordPress.com

I just finished guest-teaching a New Media class at Middle Tennessee State University.  I had a great group of students that asked some really great questions.  I thought I would answer them in more detail here.

How do I use my own domain name on my WordPress.COM site?

1. Register a domain.  Use a site like Godaddy.com, Namecheap.com or Register.com to buy a domain name (i.e. Google.com; except not that one since it’s already taken.).  A domain/URL shouldn’t cost more than about $15/year for a .com or .net.

2. Log in to your admin account on that site and change the nameservers to settings below. The link below will walk you through exactly how to do that.
NS1.WORDPRESS.COM
NS2.WORDPRESS.COM
NS3.WORDPRESS.COM

Quick how-to video for GoDaddy.com: http://www.screenr.com/cQ7N
Click for more info from GoDaddy.
Click for more info from NameCheap.com.

What’s a nameserver?  It’s like a traffic cop that tells internet traffic to go to a specific place to find a certain website.

3. Add Domain Mapping to your WordPress.com website.  The video below will explain the exact steps to make this happen.  You’ll need to pay approx. $13/year for this service.  That is a deal when you compare it to the cost of setting up your own web server hosting.

4. Wait for the changes to take effect.  Technically, it’s supposed to take 48 hours for any changes to take affect.  You might be able to type in your domain and be re-directed to your WordPress.com site immediately.  Most of the time it takes anywhere from 15 min-24 hours for the changes to take effect.  In the meantime you can still visit your site at the old MYSITE.wordpress.com address.

5. Start promoting and giving out your new web address!  You can now tell everyone to hit you up on ilovebananas.com or checkoutmyphotos.com or whatever you chose in step 1.

Get Inspired

I LOVE Inc. Magazine and all the articles they write about succeeding in business.  This one in particular is interesting because it talks about how to get inspired while also being productive in your current role at the office.  Plus, it’s a really short read.

Using Summer’s End To Boost Your Creativity

Worst Social Campaigns of 2012

Mashable.com has posted the 11 worst social media campaigns from this year.  Of course, with the holiday season just now upon us some of these could get leap-frogged.

I think the one thing other brands can take away from these flubs is to
1. PAY ATTENTION TO THE WORLD AROUND YOU and
2. make sure your EMPLOYEES DON’T POST TO THE WRONG ACCOUNT.

Topping the list are McDonald’s, Snickers, the NRA, Chick-Fil-A, and Microsoft. Most of the flubs had to do with the 2 items mentioned above and are centered around Hurricane Sandy, the Aurora, CO theater shooting or having an inappropriate post posted to the company’s account by an employee who thought they were posting to their personal accounts.

Read the entire post on Mashable.com.

The perfect headline

DODGE VIPER SRT vs. COBRA HELICOPTER

So I’m flipping through the channels, enjoying my time off from work, and I see ‘Top Gear’ listed on the DirecTV channel guide.  I’ve heard about it but really, most car shows are over my head and bore me.  Usually its guys talking about torgue ratios, gear ratios and more engine stats than I want to know.  But then the description catches my eye, “Dodge Viper SRT vs. Cobra helicopter.”  Can I really watch a Dodge Viper race a helicopter!!!  In a word: SWEEEEEEET!

So I click over and the first thing I see is 3 guys showing off 3 different Lamborghinis.  They demo each car, show how fast they are, talk about how much they cost and other very top-level (non car geek info) stats about the car.  (i.e. These things go 0-to-60 in 3.4 seconds).  Holy cow!  They get into a discussion about which one is fastest.  So, naturally, the next thing they do is RACE THEM.

By this time I’m hooked.  I even missed the car vs. helicopter stunt but who cares this is a bad ass show!  I may even go ‘Like’ the show on Top Gear’s Facebook page

My point is that because the producers (or network) wrote a killer headline, who wouldn’t want to watch a sports car race a helicopter, I tuned in and sampled their brand/show.  And, as a marketer, that’s all you can ask for — a consumer to sample your brand.  After that it’s up to the product to deliver on whatever promise the marketing guys made.

The bonus here is that the brand/show actually delivered on it’s promise to me, the consumer.  The headline said I would see something really cool that I had never seen before.  And I did.

Keep that in mind when writing headlines for your blogs, print ads, radio spots, TV spots or any other marketing materials.  Be sensational. Find the most sensational (truthful) point of what you are selling or writing about and use that to draw in customers.

Oh and in the next episode they raced two skiers down a mountain in a Mitsubishi Evo. 🙂  The car won.

Best CSS tool: Using the 960 Grid System

Amazing!  No, stupendous! No, unbelievable!  You get the picture. 

If you are a designer, developer, coder, etc. (even a newbie) I would highly suggest you dig in and use Nathan Smith’s 960 Grid System, best css tool ever!  It only took me a few hours to understand the structure and begin using it.  Nathan Smith provides a ton of templates for Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and even Visio (along with several more).  So you can start using it almost instantly.

My favorite part was how easy it was to update the layout for Nashville’s premiere music teaching studio, Music Star Studios.  MSS has recently expanded into the Atlanta market.  And, since I built the site about a year ago it definitely needed updating.  The original code and design was NOT on any type of grid system (my bad).

It only took about a day to update all the pages, all WITHOUT any design changes (except for the homepage, which was a total re-design anyway).  I was able to quickly add a new navigation scheme and it worked like a charm.

To sum up,  THANK YOU, Nathan Smith for developing tools like the 960.gs for the community to use.

Another designer friend of mine also recently introduced me to the grid system when they designed the website for the 44th Annual CMA Awards on ABC.  Thanks to StudioBanks.com for that.

Has Country Music Finally Gone Digital?

We are DEFINITELY getting there… well the fans anyway. Let me explain.

As fans continue to demand what they want when they want all of the music industry has struggled to keep up.  Some genres like Pop and Rock tend to have a younger demographic so those fans have been quicker to adopt and more demanding than the older, not-as-tech-savvy Country Music fans.  BUT…

Country Music fans are getting younger and more technologically advanced in their increasingly complicated and busy lives.

How do you know that Ben?  Well, after looking at all the data from the largest Country Music festival in the world (CMA Music Festival, held every June in Nashville) the results are very promising!

Without getting into specifics, CMA members can email me for those, the digital marketing effort put forth by CMA for the event was a huge success and the fans really responded to it.  Here are the highlights:

Continue reading

Facebook Fans Help Protect Brand

Back in January, when I posted the final update to promote a video contest on our website to win tickets to CMA Music Festival it sparked a conversation (for whatever reason) about another music festival and how it was supposedly ‘better’ than CMA Music Festival.

This is a great example of how social media can affect a brand in a VERY POSITIVE way.  Fans were quick to jump in and argue in favor of the CMA Music Festival (and protect the CMA brand) and did it better and with more creditability than we (CMA) ever could.

Now, I think some Marketing Managers would rush to delete these negative or not-so-nice comments about their event or brand.  But fortunately by the time I saw these comments plenty of other fans had already rebutted the argument.  So, I just let them keep on doing the same.

I think the challenge we have as marketers is to harness that power to push sales, drive new customers to sample our product (whatever it is) and capture data so we can more affordably message back to these hyper-loyal fans. Continue reading