This is the third post in a series written about setting up your own writer’s platform. The first post looked at setting up a blog site and the second introduces you to the basic wordpress editor. In this article I will introduce you to some of the more technical aspects of using wordpress, including managing the site appearance and adding social media shares.
After your blog site has been set up you can set up a number of pages including your about page, a home page and a number of heading pages relevant to your own interests. As you begin to write posts these will appear separately on your home page, such as the ones on this (older version of the) site.
The next stage is to start managing your blog site, this post will cover the following five areas of managing a WordPress site.
- Helping your readers to share your content on their social media sites
- Ensuring that google presents your blog post correctly in the search bar
- Managing comments and deleting spam off your site
- Customising your site so that is reflects you and the writing that you do
- Managing your media library and uploading images onto the posts.
Tip 1 -Social Sharing
Once the article or post has been written the next stage is to begin to share your posts and writing with the rest of the world. In this article I just want to focus on helping other people to share your posts rather than describing your own social media strategy. It is often easier for people to share your content if you provide a share button at the start or end of your post.
There are a number of social media sites that you could include but offering too many share buttons can look very messy and be confusing to some readers. For this site I have used a plugin called Hupso Social Media Share Buttons which can be downloaded from the plugin sidebar in your WordPress editor.
There are a choice of button types that you can use with this plugin. The bar on this site looks like the one in the middle of the screenshot and is at the top of the post. As you can see I have only added the main sites that I think most readers would use. These are Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest and LinkedIn. I have also added an email button in case anyone wants to print out the articles. You can also add counters to your page which show the number of likes and shares each post has received. However be warned counters look good if you have plenty of people sharing your content, but they can also have the opposite effect if no-one is sharing.
Tip 2 -Google description
There are a number of other plugins that you may wish to add to your WordPress site, however each plugin takes a while to load and too many can actually slow the speed of the site down too much. There are two other plugins that I use with this site that are very important in terms of managing your posts.
The first is the ALL in One SEO (search engine optimisation) plugin that helps you to add keywords to your posts. When it is installed it sits at the bottom of your posts in the editor. As you can see from the screenshot this is what part of the SEO screen looks like for this post.
The advantage of this plugin is that you can adjust how the search engines will present the title of your article in a search. I find that for many posts the first two sentences of the post are not really suitable to include in the search and I like to change these in the description box.
You can also add your own keywords or title but google will use the information in the site anyway for this. The description though might not be accurate and should be checked using this tool.
Tip 3 – Comments
In the WordPress editor you will have the opportunity to review any comments before they are published and to refuse them if they are spam. Spam comments are often irrelevant to your post and will have links to websites offering to sell something.
In order to help me manage the comments I receive I use a plugin called Akismet, which is a spam control plugin and prevents comments being written on your site without you approving them. This can also be downloaded through the plugin tab. I have set it up on this site to automatically delete any spam comments. You might wish to manually check the first few comments your receive to see whether they are spam, but after a while it is easier to ask Akismet to do this automatically.
In addition to the plugins there are a number of other features in the dashboard that you will need to become familiar with. The following features are all listed on the left hand side of the WordPress editor in the black sidebar.
Backup your content
One of the headings on your toolbar, on the left hand side of the wordpress screen is called Tools. This has the option of exporting your site, which is another way to backup your site contents just in case anything happens. It is a good practice to backup the site content fairly frequently although your blog host (in this case siterubix) does that for you as well.
Tip 4 – Changing the site appearance
The wordpress theme that you are using is one of thousands available, depending on the company that you are hosting your site with. The theme can be changed by going into Appearances on your sidebar and selecting a new theme. Make sure that the site is backed up first before making any changes to the appearance just in case anything should happen.
Also in the appearance section you will find the heading widgets. This controls what appears on your sidebars, headers and footers within your blog site.
As you can see from the screenshot there are different types of widget that you can add, but the most common type is a text widget. In these you paste any text such as email forms, adverts, links to articles etc. Most home pages in WordPress also include a comments, recent posts and search bar in the main sidebar panel. These are all controlled in the widget section of your WordPress editor.
The sidebar on a website is a useful place to add products that you want visitors to see on every page. This could also include a link to book titles that you have published, upcoming seminars you might be speaking at or articles that you have written on other sites.
This is another category under appearances and from here you can also edit widgets or change the title of your web site or blog page. You can also add different background pictures to personalise the theme. The use of images in posts and pages is discussed in another post, but the same rules apply here.
- Try and choose an image that is relevant to your site, and will remain relevant across all your range of posts.
- Ensure that any copyrighted material is acknowledged, or make your own picture as I did for this site.
- Images are personal and what works for you may not work for others.
- The image you choose should be part of your own personal branding as a writer, so try and let it represent you and speak out for you.
The final category I’m going to cover in this article is the Media library.
Tip 5 – Media
The importance of adding media to your posts and pages cannot be underestimated. It makes the writing easier to skim across and engages the reader, hopefully until the end of your post. Adding pictures is easy in WordPress you simply click on the Add Media button in the editor and it will take you to your own media library.
Here any image that you have uploaded is saved until you decide to delete it. In the example you can see some of the images that have been used in this post. All I have to do is click on an image and press insert into post and it appears where I last left the cursor in the blog article. Once the image is in the post it can be edited for size or positioning.
Sourcing images can be a time-consuming exercise however social media platforms such as Pinterest can help to mange and source pictures from across the web for you. You need to set up an account and this article provides a video link to explain how that is done.
Adding images to Media Library
It is relatively easy process to add images to the media library. Once you have sourced the picture or image that you want, then save it your computer somewhere. Click the add media button in WordPress and then click the upload files tab in your media window. It will offer you a drop down list of options and you can now select the image from your computer. It will download into the WordPress media library. You can then add a caption and alt text if needed and click insert into post.
If images are on your desktop you can drag them into the media library as well, this can be useful for using with any screenshots that you take.
Summary – Using WordPress for Blogging
So that is the third part of the tour of WordPress, there is a lot of information to process but as a summary we looked today at the following points.
- Adding social media share buttons to posts and pages
- Adding an All in One plug in to help edit the google search appearance
- Adding the plugin Akismet to control the management of comments on the site
- Changing the appearance of the site using widgets, headers and changing the title of the site.
- Using media – and adding images to the media library
By now you have the basics and can write content, add images and manage any feedback received from readers. As you become more familiar with the layout of the editor then you will find it easier to add other features into your site as you need them. WordPress does update its programme on a fairly regular basis and not all the plugins will be updated as quickly, the WordPress editor will remind you when new updates become available for your plugins.
If you have any questions or further topics that you think should be covered, please drop me comment below and I will get back to you as soon as possible, thanks for reading.