How to Blog for Toastmasters (also, Where and Why) – Video Replay, Notes and Links

In this demonstration speech at Online Presenters, I encourage members of Online Presenters to take advantage of the fact that our website has a blog built into it — just waiting to help them with the Create a Compelling Blog project in Pathways.

I am David F. Carr, DTM, the original organizer, charter year President and current treasurer of Online Presenters. I’m also the founder of the WordPress for Toastmasters open source software project. As this year’s webmaster for District 47, I am also encouraging district leaders to blog about the district and all the great people and clubs within it. And I would love to see more of the clubs who have adopted WordPress taking full advantage of blogging as a way of celebrating the talent within their clubs.

David F. Carr, DTM, founder of the WordPress for Toastmasters project.

In the video, I show how to work as a contributor to a WordPress-powered blog run by your club or district. I also show a little about how to post blog articles on LinkedIn, which is a great outlet for sharing your professional interests outside of Toastmasters (and also a pretty good place to be talking up Toastmasters). I briefly discuss other options, such as the WordPress.com service where you can sign up for a free personal blog (and perhaps upgrade to a paid plan later if that makes sense for you).

Here are a few relevant blog posts about how to use blogs, websites and social media more effectively.

These two are for the webmaster wanting to know how to set up members as contributors, authors and administrators.

Also check out the Pathways blogging journey of Carole McCulloch, a friend of the club who was one of the club coaches for Online Presenters when we originally chartered. She explains more about the Create a Compelling Blog project and how to tackle it.

One More Blogging Tip

Blog Categories

One detail not covered in the blog is how to categorize blog posts. There is a Categories panel on the editor sidebar (under Document). Click the down arrow to reveal a list of checkboxes. Here is an example from the Online Presenters blog:

The categories you select will appear as links at the bottom of your post, and readers can click on to see other items that fall into the same category — for example, other posts containing Online Meeting Tips. Categories help make your blog better organized.

Members Only is a special category for posts that should only be displayed to logged in members. You might want to use that for meeting minutes, for example.

Notes for Webmasters

Home Page and Sidebar Widgets

The webmaster or other user with administrator rights can use the WordPress Customizer tool to add to customize the appearance of the website, including home page options, menus, and widgets that appear on the sidebar of the page.

  • Blog listing widgets:
    • Recent Posts — all the most recent posts
    • Categories — click to see all posts in the selected category
    • Club News – a Recent Posts listing that excludes “Members Only” posts.
    • Members Only – a listing of posts in the Members Only category.
  • Home Page Settings
    • Your latest posts – If you create a WordPress website outside of toastmost.org, this will be the default. Appropriate for websites that are primarily blogs or have active blogs.
    • A static page – I recommend club and business websites greet visitors with a welcome page and designate a separate page where blog listings will be displayed. Toastmost.org sites are preconfigured with this option, but you can change it if you prefer to have your blog out front.

Create Your Own WordPress Website / Blog

There are multiple ways of creating a WordPress website:

  • Create a free account at WordPress.com — good for personal blogs but does not support the WordPress for Toastmasters software for agenda management, etc.
  • Create an an account at Toastmost.org, which is part of the WordPress for Toastmasters project. Specifically for club blogs, with TI branding built into the site theme / templates and agenda management functions. Free for the first year, then $30 per year.
  • Create an independent website on any web hosting service that supports WordPress. Many affordable options exist. Allows you to use your own web domain and gives you more control, for example over what plugins to install. Preferred option for business websites. For club websites, you can install two plugins (RSVPMaker and RSVPMaker for Toastmasters) plus the Lectern theme to duplicate the functionality of a toastmost.org site. The Lectern theme can also be used on district websites.

P.S.

While I talk a lot about the club and agenda management features of WordPress and am proud of the software, the best reason to choose WordPress for Toastmasters is the underlying WordPress blogging and web publishing system. I am always disappointed when I see a club has set up a website using the software but isn’t taking advantage of the opportunity to post timely and interesting information.

If you have a WordPress website for your club but haven’t changed the home page or added to the blog in many months, you are missing out on 90% of the value of this option. Make sure you’re showing off what makes your club special!