12 Quick fixes for your blog

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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.

1. Accessibility

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.

7. Sharing

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?

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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74 Responses to 12 Quick fixes for your blog

  1. Yoshiko says:

    Thanks for your effort to do so.

    Like

  2. Great tips, Sue. It is frustrating to get a new follower, then see they have no About page, no Avatar. Hard to want to proceed. That back up advice is important. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      The back up takes no more than a couple of minutes and could be a life saver.
      I agree about the gravatar being frustrating though… there is only so much you can do to trace the comment back…and you just give up after a while.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. myageofaquarius says:

    This was great, Sue. Thank you for sharing. I too am still learning to navigate this medium. This helps a lot😊

    Like

  4. Bun Karyudo says:

    This was very interesting, Sue. I’ve been blogging for quite a while now, but I had no idea at all about numbers 10 and 12. They’re both good things to know.

    Like

  5. janmalique says:

    Much needed advice and info. I struggle at times to navigated the mysteries of WordPress. Here be dragonnes…I have an old laptop that has been wonderful but is feeling its age.

    Like

  6. Joel F says:

    Thanks Sue. this is informative.

    Like

  7. noelleg44 says:

    Thanks, Sue. There was some info there I can definitely use!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m always interested in finding out what I may not know that could make my blogging life easier so thanks for this – great tips all. It never occurred to me to use Press This to fashion my own reblogs – duh! I’ll have to play around with it to understand how edit the automatic section that the reblog function pops in. And thanks for the link to the back-up directions.

    I use the on-post search function a lot, especially when I’m mid-draft. (control + F — command + F for Macs). When the little box pops up (at the bottom left of the screen in Firefox, top right in Safari), you can enter a particular word or phrase and pop right to it. MUCH faster than scrolling. Click “Match Case” if it’s on — to toggle it off so it will find the words regardless of capitalization.

    It works on other blogs too. (search for your own name if you want to find your comment for any reason – or one from a blog-buddy).
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Like

  9. busy lady says:

    Thanks for a helpful, interesting blog!

    Like

  10. busy lady says:

    Reblogged this on darlenescorner and commented:
    A helpful blog!

    Like

  11. No, I have nothing to add and can hardly keep up with these. Thank you, Sue. 🙂

    Like

  12. Denis1950 says:

    Thanks Sue for a couple of helpful;l tips.

    Like

  13. ksbeth says:

    i sure don’t, but this is a great list )

    Like

  14. Yes to all, except I can’t back up without help because I’ve got too much stuff. I have to get in touch and then they are very good about creating a backup file for me. I bet you need help backing it up too.

    Like

  15. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Here is a very handy post from Sue Vincent with 12 important elements that make your blog visibly attractive, shows you in your best light and gets it noticed… one of my peeves is not having a name to attach to a blogger who visits frequently… as Sue says referring to someone as Crocodile Hunter or Musings of a dynamic whatchamacallit… is a little challenging.. head over and check off the list.. all worth doing.

    Like

  16. Tina Frisco says:

    An excellent post, Sue. I hope it reaches many whatchamacallits out there, because I’m really tired of searching for names! Who has the time?

    Like

  17. olganm says:

    Thanks, Sue. Since I moved to wordpress.org I’ve done some tinkering but also had some serious problems. I must take some time and check what I’m doing. 🙂

    Like

  18. jazzyoutoo says:

    great stuff – some tips I have already taken them from experience, some I was ignoring them, but a few were new to me! thank you so much!
    josé

    Like

  19. Davy D says:

    Sue, thank you so much for this useful and insightful post. I am in my first year of blogging so this has given me some useful tips I hadn’t thought about.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I’ve been blogging a few years, Davy, and some of this stuff was only learned fairly recently. There is always something new to pick up…or something so simple you haven’t even considered it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Widdershins says:

    I always write my posts on a Word doc and then C & P to WordPress. I do a few more edits, usually typos, publish the post and then copy it back to the Word doc so that it overwrites the original. I also copy the shorter posts I create in WordPress to a Word doc.

    I set up a gmail email address specifically for my blog, so if I get an email I know where it came from.

    I don’t know if anyone else’s mentioned this, ‘cos I scrolled to the bottom of the comments, but whenever you link to something, make sure it opens in a new tab, or page. WP shifted it a few layers deeper with their last upgrade and I had to hunt for it, but it’s in the under options in the pop-up window for the link icon. The new page that what when someone’s read what you’ve linked to and they close that tab, your page is still there.

    I didn’t know that about the ‘title’ bar. I just duplicated the text there anyway. 😀

    There’s many a Gravatar I’ve clicked on to find nothing there apart from the name., not even a link to a blog. When that happens I’m outta there. (note to self, go check your Gravatar as soon as you post this comment. 🙂 )

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Yes, I keep forgetting to ‘open new page’ with the new link system. There ought to be a default choice option there.
      I always used to write everything in Word and C&P. These days, it is a bit of a mix depending on where and on what I am writing.
      I also have a dedicated emaila address, though half the stuff comes through all over my email inboxes with the forwarding.

      Like

  21. dgkaye says:

    Excellent advice here Sue. I especially like #3, lol. So many times you want to reply to someone who has no name, then we search their about to see if they’ve exposed it there, and still nothing. 🙂

    Like

  22. I prefer the Classic editor also

    Like

  23. Thanks for the reminders, Sue. I had no idea that I had not set up the settings for #11. Thanks to you, it is now done. And thank you so much for the mention. It certainly brought some visitors to the blog over the weekend. 😃

    Have a great week.

    Like

  24. Pingback: Friday Roundup – 14th October | Stevie Turner, Indie Author.

  25. birdlady612 says:

    Great article! I’ve been blogging for about a year now but still have so much to learn. I tried out a new theme and redesigned my blog this weekend and would be grateful if you might take a look at it and let me know what you think. Am I heading in the right direction and following what you said? What do you think of the layout and ease of access? Thanks so much.

    Like

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