Learning your way around WordPress can take a while, especially if you are not of the tech-savvy branch of bloggers. After several years here, I am still learning all the time, mostly by trial and error, both the technical stuff and the things that should be commonsense but are so obvious they get overlooked. Below are a handful of ideas that can save you time and space, make your site easier to use… and save your blog from disaster.
Note: I’m a stick-in-the-mud where the blog is concerned and still prefer the old Classic Editor, so any directions below will be working from that. To access the Classic dashboard, hover over My Sites top left and select Site Admin from the drop-down. Clicking ‘my sites’ takes you to the new dashboard. I am not sure this works for everyone, but you can also access it via the ‘Meta’ menu on your front page.
The easier a blog is to read, the more likely it is to be read. A black font on a white background may sound boring, but it works. Choose a clear font, not too large, not too small. Multicoloured fonts are hard on the eye, as are darker colours on dark backgrounds.
If you add text to your pictures (as I do for the nightly haiku) copy the text to the ‘title’ bar of your image. It does not show onscreen but allows those who use text-to-speech to read what is written. Alternatively, you can type out the text and append it to the image.
If not adding text, you can also use the title bar of the image to add a description for the same reason. I am guilty of forgetting to do this far too often.
2. Adding pictures
Unless you are a photographer concerned with image quality and want to make a full sized image available, consider resizing your pictures to 1000 pixels on the longest side before you upload them. You can do it quite simply in Paint or any basic photo editor. They upload far quicker and take up far less space in your media library.
You can also do some basic edits within the media library itself by clicking into an image and clicking ‘edit’ near the top right.
3. Who are you?
Please let us have a name by which to call you…even if it is not your own! Commenting without a name to use feels cold and impersonal. And while we are at it, at least some clue as to your gender… it saves embarrassment all round.
By the time we have looked at your ‘about’ page, trawled through your comments and replies, checked your gravatar and even rifled through your site for a copyright notice or book cover and still not found a name that we can use other than writing “Dear Musings of a Piebald Anteater”… we’re probably feeling less inclined to be friendly than you’d like.
4. About You…
Speaking of the ‘About’ page… do you have one? And if you do… have you checked to see if it needs updating recently? It’s not a bad place to give those all-important clues as to who you are and maybe, why you blog.
5. Update your Gravatar
That small icon that represents you when you like a post or leave a comment on blogs is another good way of introducing yourself. Make sure your Gravatar profile is complete, including up-to-date links to your current website or blog.
Many people set up their Gravatar in a very basic manner when they first start blogging and then forget about it. Unless you have added your current website or blog there is no way of finding your site. You can also add pictures, upload book covers and add various social media links so that you are findable.
6. Search Bar
Most themes come with a search facility built in. It isn’t always obvious and id frequently a very discreet magnifying glass icon. You can add a search bar to your widgets to make it more visible. (Admin>Appearance>Widgets then drag and drop or just use the ‘customise’ function). Not only does it let other people find their way around your blog, it is also exceedingly useful for finding things you may have posted years ago.
If you are blogging, then presumably you want people to read your work. One way of encouraging this is to add sharing buttons. WordPress have a range built-in that can be added via Admin>Sharing. Some, like StumbleUpon, are no longer automatically supported and must be added manually.
You can also set your blog via ‘Publicise’ to post directly to a variety of other social media sites like Facebook, but you can also add your blog feed to your Goodreads and Amazon.com author pages too.
You may not have accounts with all of the social media sites… there are not enough hours in a day to maintain a vibrant presence on all of them… but your readers may prefer sites where you do not have an account at all. Setting up a good range of sharing buttons …including to sites you don’t use… may increase your visibility by allowing your readers to share to their preferred networks.
8. Add your Contact Details
If you don’t care for the idea of giving out your email address publicly, you can add a contact form or page. Simply create a new page and click ‘add contact form’ under the title bar. Don’t panic when it shows your email address and details…it doesn’t. It shows those of whoever clicks onto the page, not yours.
You can also add website and social media links to your contact page and, if you have purchased your own WordPress.com domain name, you have the opportunity to create a dedicated email address too that will forward to your existing mail account.
9. Follow by Email option
In the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, a little ‘Follow’ box pops up when you visit a new site. Clicking this will only allow you to follow a blog via the Reader with which bloggers have a love-it or hate-it relationship. The button may also disappear…you have to scroll back up slightly for it to reappear.
I personally prefer to follow a lot of blogs by email so I do not miss their posts. The Reader often drowns out favourite bloggers. Consider adding a Follow by Email button to your widgets. It is a quick drag and drop… go to the Appearance>Widgets menu and find the one that says ‘Follow Blog – Follow blog via email’.
10. Schedule posts to reblog
WordPress.com sites have a reblog button and a Press This button. Reblogs are immediate… Press This allows you to schedule or save as a draft a post you would like to reblog. Simply click Press This in the sharing buttons, create the post extract that you want (it will open in a new window and have a pre-selected extract) and use the drop down menu under ‘Publish’ to save a draft or schedule via the ‘standard editor’.
Self-hosted blogs do not have the same ease of sharing, but you can get the Press This applet for yourself and this allows you to reblog pretty much anything from anywhere. D.G. Kaye published a ‘how to’ on this here.
11. Go Mobile
Most WP themes have been optimised for use on mobile devices. Not everyone has selected this option for their site and viewing them on, say, a phone, means you see the whole web-version of the site rather than the sleeker mobile version. While this does have the advantage of displaying all of your sidebars, widgets and pages it also means the site is displayed in a very small format and is difficult to read and navigate.
To make sure your site is optimised for mobile, go to Admin>Appearance> Mobile and check the first box.
12. Back up your Blog!
WordPress includes a function for backing up the content of your blog in case of disaster. Hugh from Hugh’s Views and News tells you how.
Do you have any other suggestions for quick fixes?