Lindsay has graced us an excellent series of articles on the art of creating an article site in order to generate passive income which inspired me personally a great deal, but she didn’t expand very much on the technical aspect of the thing ;) Fortunately, I am offering to fix that here by giving you a simple and practical article on the art of setting up an article site with WordPress.
It is possible to build a site entirely in HTML but that has a number of drawbacks:
- You must master the language
- You must create the design from A to Z or have fun finding sample pages on the internet
- Whenever you need to make a change in the left or right columns, you have to adjust all the other pages (unless you make frames, which is an out of date practice)
- Many useful functions don’t exist, like automatic generation of XML sitemaps or automatic backups.
A “static” site, entirely in HTML would have been okay in the late 90s, but today it is a format that is unnecessarily heavy and time intensive. On the other hand, numerous dynamic platforms exist with many ready-to-use tools, one of most famous of these is WordPress, which serves as the engine for over half the blogs on the planet.
The idea of an article site is to generate income and spend as little time on it as possible, which is different from a blog site because:
- We don’t want to manage comments and trackbacks
- We don’t want to manage multiple plugins that need to be updated regularly for security reasons
- We want navigation to be by topic, not by date
- We want a clean design so that visitors are not distracted from the adverts, which are our source of income
- We don’t want any items having to do with blogs, but having nothing to do with an article site, to appear in the design: tags, comments, etc.
We don’t want to settle for a classic WordPress blog. Fortunately, all we need are a few changes to tailor it for our needs. Follow this guide ;)
1 – Choice of Theme and Plugins
Choice of Theme
We need a simple theme, without pictures and with a single column, tailored to the purpose that we want the site to have, and that can be easily changed. I did some research to find a theme that looked like Lindsay’s site graphically, http://www.homesecurityinformation.com/ and the best one that I found is Gray Lines. There are others in the same ilk like Blass2, Evanescence, Infimum or Plainscape, but Gray Lines seemed the most appropriate to me. I will therefore continue with the tutorial based on this theme, but it is easily adapted to others.
All modifications that need to be made are below, but you can download the Gray Lines theme directly modified with my changes here.
Choice of Plugins
We will minimize the number of plugins in order to simplify managing daily updates as much as possible. You need:
- All in One SEO Pack: For SEO of your articles.
- Dagon Design Sitemap Generator: Automatically generate a site map.
- Google Analyticator: Automatically insert tracking code for Google Analytics on all your web site pages.
- Google XML Sitemaps : Automatically create a sitemap.xml file and notify search engines whenever you post a new article.
- Whydowork Adsense: Easily position your Adsense adverts in your current and previous articles.
- WordPress Database Backup: Automatically back up your database at regular intervals.
Other optional but useful plugins:
- Sociable: Allow visitors to share your articles on social media.
- Top Level Categories: Get the /category/ which appears in the URL when you clock on a blog category. For example the category “Affiliate Marketing” on this site is found at the address http://www.writingforyourwealth.com/category/affiliate-marketing/ . “Category” is unnecessary and detrimental to SEO. Note : this requires manipulating the Permalinks, read this part of the tutorial carefully if you install it.
- WordPress.com Stats: Get statistics in real time of visits to your blog.
- WP-EMail: Let visitors send a link to your article to their friends.
I will not expand on the installation and basic configuration of these plugins but will concentrate on the part that we are interested in. Read the documentation for each of them if you run into problems.
2 – Transforming a Blog into an Article Site
Install WordPress then, the Gray Lines theme, and the plugins of your choice. Activate Gray Lines and all your plugins. Your site will look like this:
- Permalinks: Go into Settings\Permalinks, select Custom Structure and put /%postname%.html in the field. This will make the URL of all your articles be of the type http://addressofyoursite.com/articlename.html . Note: if you don’t put .html or some other suffix at the end, the plugin Top Level Category won’t work.
- Comments: Go into Settings\Discussions and deselect “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks.)” and “Allow people to post comments on the article”.
- Welcome Page: Create a new page, then go into Settings\Reading and select “A static page (select below) ” and select your new page as “Front Page. ”
- Number of articles to show: On the same page, set the parameter “Blog pages show at most ” to 100. This will allow you show up to 100 articles in these categories, which should be enough in most cases. If not increase the amount.
- Right hand column: Go into Appearance\widgets and add these widgets (in this order) Search, Categories, Recent Posts, Text. In the last widget you enter an html link to the site map generated with Dagon Design Sitemap Generator.
Your site should now look like this:
Modifying the theme:
This is what an article looks like:
We want a clean page, in particular without “Filed under: uncategorized by admin” and “Comments are closed.”
To change the theme, go into Appearance\Editor, then click on Single Post. Find the following code in the main window:
Then delete it completely. Do the same thing in Main Index Template and in Archives.
Comments are closed
Click on Single Post again, then find and delete the following code in the main window:
Now an article looks like this:
When you click on categories the list of all the articles under this category will appear with a summary. Deleting the summary is very simple: Go into Archives, then find and delete the following code in the main window:
At the moment only the article title appears. Unfortunately, they are sorted in chronological order rather than alphabetical order. To fix that, find the code:
And add the following lines right below it:
This code should go right in front:
There! Now you have a site all ready for your articles. Don’t forget, if the changes to the Gray Lines theme seem too complicated, you can download the theme already modified here ;)
I hope you will now write excellent articles and earn lots of money ! :)