WordPress – Pt 2

In part one we looked at how to set up a blog on WordPress.com and choose a theme, now we need to add content.

Publish Content

Now that your site is set up, looking stylish, and exudes a sense of you, it is time to add some content. Content is king. Creating great content is the most trusted way to gain traffic, so think carefully. There are a variety of different content types on WordPress.com, let’s go over a few of them.

Posts

You may see the term ‘post-type,’ try to avoid confusing this with a ‘post.’ In programming, a POST is a method of outputting data to the screen. So a ‘post-type’ is a type of data, such as a page, image or video. Confusingly, the advent of ‘posting’ stuff on the internet has created what we now commonly refer to as a ‘blog post’ or simply, a ‘post.’

Keeping that in mind, a post is typically dated, shows the author, category, any associated tags, and usually appears in reverse chronological order moving down your blog as you post new articles. Posts are browsable in the Reader where your potential fans can find them under the tags you assign to them.

Pages

Pages are a post-type that are typically reserved for more static, timeless content such as an About or Contact me page. If you plan to build out a business website you would set your homepage as a static page, instead of the default posts page which would be used as the standard blog layout.

The Editor

When you are ready to begin writing a post you can access the Editor in two ways, by going to My Sites -> Posts or My Sites -> Pages and adding a new post or page. In the editor, you can format your content in a variety of ways. Along the top of the editor are your typical editing tools such as bold, italic, alignment etc.

If you wish to insert an image you can do so by clicking the + button and selecting Add Media, alternatively, you can drag and drop an image from your desktop to the editor.

If you click Add Media you will be brought to the Media Library, once the file uploads you can click it and add the image to the page by selecting Insert. You can also edit the image details by clicking Edit. Once the image is in your post you can adjust its alignment and size.

When you’re ready to publish a post you can choose to add categories and tags to improve your content’s organization, tags will also help your posts show up in the Reader.

Pages do not use tags and categories, therefore the page editor will not have tabs for these options. Instead, you will see a section titled Page Attributes. This section lets you create parent and child pages or change the order of pages.

Along the right side of the editor in the dropdown tabs are a number of page features.

Media Library

The Media Library hosts all of your pictures, videos, documents, and audio. When you click add an upload box will appear, choose any type of media from .mp3 to .pdf and click open. Additionally, you can drag and drop media right onto the screen.

If you select a media item and click Edit you can add a title, caption, alt text, description, and copy the URL of the media item in case you want to use it elsewhere. Below that you should see file data for the selected item.

You also have the option to edit the image itself such as rotating, changing the aspect ratio (cropping), or flipping the image.

When you are in a post or page editor you can access the Media Library by clicking the plus icon then selecting media. From here you can add one, or many, items. If you select multiple images you will have a blue ‘Continue’ button instead of ‘Insert,’ selecting Continue will take you to the image gallery options.

From here you can change the layout, order and what each image will link to when clicked. This is a great way to add some style to your blog with perhaps a slideshow, carousel or tile mosaic.

Menus

Once you begin publishing pages, you may wish to create a menu to help your users navigate your site. Head to My Sites -> Customize then click the Menu section. Here you can view your theme’s menu locations, add menu items that link to a page on your site, a link to other sites, a category or tag, or one of your posts. To reorder the menu, you can simply click and drag the rows around. If you tug the row slightly to the right you can nest items within each other.

Menus

A few themes do not support menus, though this is rare. You can use the Custom Menu widget in your theme’s sidebar to display a menu. I will cover this in the next section.

For more advanced menu options you can navigate to the WP-Admin section of your site then Menus in the sidebar.

Adding Widgets

Widgets are built-in blocks of code that provide expansive features for your website. WordPress.com includes many commonly used features such as Instagram feeds, post archives, countdown clocks, audio, calendars and much more.

To begin adding widgets to your site you need to go to the theme customizer under Themes -> Customize. Scroll down the widgets tab and choose a widget area. Not all themes are created equally, some have many areas designated for widgets, others do not.

Choose the desired widget area, then click Add Widget.

Widgets can also be customized further with the Advanced CSS module found in the Premium and Business plans. You can also conditionally adjust their visibility by clicking the Visibility button at the bottom of the widget. This lets you conditionally show or hide the widget depending on certain criteria such as ‘Is this the homepage?

Here are all the Widgets:

Akismet Widget – Display the number of spam comments Akismet has caught. (not quite sure why you would want this.)

Archives – A monthly archive of your site’s Posts.

Audio – Displays an audio player.

Authors – Display blogs authors with avatars and recent posts.

Blogs I Follow – Display linked images for the blogs you follow.

Blog Stats – Show a hit counter for your blog.

Calendar – A calendar of your site’s Posts.

Categories – A list or dropdown of categories.

Category Cloud – Your most used categories in cloud format.

Contact Info & Map – Display a map with your location, hours, and contact information.

Custom Menu – Add a custom menu to your sidebar.

Display WordPress Posts – Displays a list of recent posts from another WordPress.com or Jetpack-enabled blog.

EU Cookie Law Banner – Display a banner for compliance with the EU Cookie Law.

Facebook Page Plugin – Use the Facebook Page Plugin to connect visitors to your Facebook Page.

Flickr – Display your recent Flickr photos.

Follow Blog – Add an email signup form to allow people to follow your blog.

Follow Button – Add a WordPress.com follow button to allow people to follow your blog easier.

Gallery – Display a photo gallery or slideshow.

Goodreads – Display your books from Goodreads.

Google Translate – Automatic translation of your site content.

Gravatar – Insert a Gravatar image.

Gravatar Profile – Display a mini version of your Gravatar Profile.

Image – Displays an image.

Instagram – Display your latest Instagram photos.

Internet Defense League – Show our support for the Internet Defense League.

Links – Your blogroll.

MailChimp Subscriber Popup – Allows displaying a popup subscription form to visitors.

Milestone – Display a countdown to a certain date.

My Community – A sampling of users from your blog.

Pages – A list of your site’s Pages.

Posts I Like – A list of the posts I most recently liked.

Recent Comments – Displays your site’s most recent comments.

Recent Posts – Your site’s most recent Posts.

RSS – Entries from any RSS or Atom feed.

RSS Links – Links to your blog’s RSS feeds.

Search – A search form for your site.

Social Icons – Add social-media icons to your site.

Tag Cloud – Your most-used tags in cloud format.

Text – Arbitrary txt or html (great for adding html buttons or shortcodes).

Tlk.io Webchat – Add a tlk.io webchat. (Actually pretty awesome)

Top Posts & Pages – Shows your most viewed posts and pages.

Twitter Timeline – Display an official twitter embedded Timeline widget.

Upcoming Events – Display upcoming events from an iCalendar feed.

Video – Displays a video from YouTube, Vimeo, or another provider.

Get Connected – Become Part of the Community

Now that you have created some great content, with flashy widgets and imagery, you need to begin showing it off to the WordPress community. One important feature of WordPress are tags. As we saw during our Reader section, people can discover new topics by typing in tags that they want to read about such as Photography or Medicine. Adding tags to your content helps it show in other user’s Readers, which in turn leads to more traffic to your blog.

Tags

Tags also are useful for organizing your content on your own blog. You can even create tag clouds in your sidebar with a simple widget, this can help move traffic around your blog. You should aim to use both specific and broad tags in order to reach a wide range of potential users. Using ‘’skateboards’’ and ‘’Tony Hawk’’ will attract a wide group of skaters, and also people looking for more specific material such as ‘Tony Hawk Pro Skater’ the video game. Keep all of this in mind when tagging material.

A few tips for tagging:

  • Including more than 15 tags or categories on a post will disqualify it from showing in the Reader
  • Your blog must be set to public, go to My Sites -> Settings -> General to confirm your privacy settings.
  • If you regularly post offensive material your blog may be flagged.
  • If you misuse the tag feature such as misleading tags, questionable affiliate links, marketing material and unoriginal content, your blog will not appear in the Reader.

Like and Comment on other blogs

While you browse the Reader, make sure to like and comment on other blogs. By liking and commenting on a blog you open a dialogue which may gain you followers. You can like another post right from the Reader by clicking the ‘start’ icon, or comment icon. You can also visit the blog by clicking visit.

Connect your other social media accounts

You can use your site as a hub for posting to all your social media with just one click. By utilizing the Publicize tool you can write a post, schedule it, and post to all your connected social media accounts at once. Go to your dashboard and click Sharing. Under the Connections tab you can connect anything from Facebook to Tumblr.

Once connected, you can add a short custom message from the post editor that will be previewed when your post is posted on each social media site.

From this Sharing page you can also add Sharing Buttons to your posts which allows your users to share your content to popular social media sites, this is a great way to gain followers.

Utilize your site statistics

The Stats page can give you a look into your visitor’s behavioral patterns, use this data to tailor your content and increase your traffic.

Go to your Insights screen and look around. Try and cross compare your typically posting schedule with the average traffic spikes, can you modify your schedule to garner more traffic during your blogs busy periods?

You can also look at your blogs All Time Views and find the days where you had the most traffic, try and figure out what content caused this spike in traffic. Did your blog get shared to a notable website? Was the content exceptionally well written and topical? These insights can help you cater to trending topics in your niche.

You can also see what countries your visitors are viewing your content from, you can even narrow the content down to which pages or posts are being viewed most often.

An important feature is the Referrers section. Referrers are who is directing traffic to your site. Direct referrals are when traffic directly types in your address, otherwise sites who link to your site should be listed with the amount of traffic they help generate. Linking to sites who generate traffic for you is a great way to show appreciation.

If you really want to get into the nitty gritty of your site stats, you may wish to consider adding the Google Analytics feature to your site by upgrading to the Business plan.

Category & Tag Pages

Two lesser known features of WordPress are category and tag pages. When you tag posts or add them to categories you can also create pages that aggregate these posts by their specific category or tag. All you have to do to display these pages is go to the Customizer -> Menu section and add a new menu item.

Instead of adding a page or post, add a category or tag menu item. Once you have saved these changes, look for the category or tag in the menu. The category or tag page should list your posts like a standard blog, but filtered by the specific tag or category.

Cat tag page

Portfolios & Testimonial Modules

You can activate the Portfolio and Testimonial modules from your Site Admin by going to Settings -> Writing and then scroll down to Content Types.

Once activated you will see two new options in your sidebar.

Portfolios

To add a portfolio project, click Add. You will be brought to the post editor but as you will notice the sidebar page attributes are a bit different. A portfolio project is part of the portfolio in the same way that a painting is just one piece of an artist’s body of work. The portfolio project can be described, have images, and is arranged by Project Type and Project Tags, these are similar to categories and tags of posts.

For example, if you are a graphic designer you would probably have a lot of website layouts, perhaps some ‘brand’ work, maybe some logos, but as is the case in each of these examples, they all fit into nice groups. These would be your project types. You could then further group them with tags like ‘Aramark Corporation,’ because your Aramark logos and website designs may be in different project types, but with this tag you could list them together.

Once you have created your portfolio project you can then view them in a number of different ways:

  • Portfolio Archive – http://yourgroovysite.wordpress.com/portfolio/
  • Single Project Page – http://yourgroovysite.wordpress.com/portfolio/project-slug/
  • Project Type Archive – http://yourgroovysite.wordpress.com/project-type/project-type-slug/
  • Project Tag Archive – http://yourgroovysite.wordpress.com/project-tag/project-tag-slug/

Source: https://en.support.wordpress.com/portfolios/

For instance, here is my portfolio set up in the four different ways seen above, click each link to view:

Since the /portfolio URL is reserved for your portfolio page, please do not create any pages called ‘portfolio.’ If you wish to display your portfolio on any other page or post, you can use the Portfolio Shortcode [portfolio]:


Attributes

The portfolio shortcode accepts a variety of attributes to sort your projects:

  • display_types: display Project Types – displayed by default. (true/false)
  • display_tags: display Project Tag – displayed by default. (true/false)
  • display_content: display project content – displayed by default. (true/false)
  • display_author: display project author name – hidden by default. (true/false)
  • include_type: display specific Project Types. Defaults to all. (comma-separated list of Project Type slugs)
  • include_tag: display specific Project Tags. Defaults to all. (comma-separated list of Project Tag slugs)
  • columns: number of columns in shortcode. Defaults to 2. (number, 1-6)
  • showposts: number of projects to display. Defaults to all. (number)
  • order: display projects in ascending or descending order. Defaults to ASC for sorting in ascending order, but you can reverse the order by using DESC to display projects in descending order instead. (ASC/DESC)
  • orderby: sort projects by different criteria, including author name, project title, and even rand to display in a random order. Defaults to sorting by date. (author, date, title, rand)

Here is another example of the Portfolio Shortcode but with a bit of pizazz:

[portfolio display_types=true display_tags=false include_type=reviews,featured columns=3 showposts=9 orderby=rand]

Here I am displaying a three column grid with a max of 9 projects. This grid will only display my projects by Project Type and only the types I list, in this instance, I am displaying reviews and featured project types. I could easily change this to display by project tags if I desired. Lastly, I set my portfolio to randomize the order of the projects.

Testimonials

Testimonials work in a very similar way to Portfolios. Click on the Testimonials -> Add New and fill out the editor with the name of whoever is giving a great review, their kudos, and an image of them if that is appropriate for your site design. There are no tags or categories for testimonials, but you can adjust the order they appear in from the page attributes tab.

And just like the Portfolio shortcode, there is also a testimonial shortcode: [testimonials]

This shortcode is also customizable attributes:

Attributes

  • display_content: display testimonial content. (full/true/false)
  • image: display the featured image. (true/false)  Defaults to true.
  • columns: number of columns in shortcode. Defaults to 1. (number, 1-6)
  • showposts: number of testimonials to display. Defaults to all. (number)
  • order: display testimonials in ascending or descending chronological order. Defaults to ASC for sorting in ascending order, but you can reverse the order by using DESC to display testimonials in descending order instead. (ASC/DESC)
  • orderby: sort testimonials by different criteria, including author name, testimonial title, and even rand to display in a random order. Defaults to sorting by date. (author, date, title, rand)

Source: https://en.support.wordpress.com/testimonials-shortcode/

Here is an example of how to modify the testimonial shortcode:

[testimonials columns=1 showposts=10 image=false orderby=rand]

In this example your testimonials will be listed in one column, show 10 posts, no image, and in a random order.

Up Next

WordPress has a lot of great content types that can help your website look more professional and dynamic. Up next I will discuss the configuration settings for WordPress.com.


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WordPress.com – Pt. 1

Get Started – Register – Profile – Name Creation

Register

Go to WordPress.com and create a username and password

Create a web address

WordPress comes with a free web address for every blog. All free blogs follow the same naming scheme ‘yourcoolsite.wordpress.com.’ Pro tip, yourcoolsite is a subdomain of WordPress.com, the entire WordPress.com ecosystem is really just one big multi-site installation of the WordPress software, cool right?

Obviously, this isn’t the preferred naming scheme for your actually cool website! The next step is to purchase a domain name, or use one your already own, and map it to your site.

Choose a Plan

WordPress has three paid plans that offer subsequently more amazing features than the last. Every blog begins as a Free plan, but you can easily upgrade to Personal, Premium, or Business. Let’s look at the differences. Each plan has the features of the plan that comes before it.

Free
WordPress.com subdomain
Jetpack Essential Features
Community Support
Hundreds of free themes
Basic Design Customization
3GB Storage
Personal
Custom Domain Name
Email & Live Chat Support
6GB Storage
Remove WordPress.com Ads
Premium
Unlimited Premium Themes
Advanced Design Customization
13GB Storage
Monetize your site
VideoPress support
Business
Unlimited Storage
Attend live courses
SEO Tools
Install Plugins
Upload themes
Google Analytics Integration
Remove WordPress.com Branding

As you move up in tiers you progressively unlock more powerful features such as more storage, video hosting and integration, and most notably, 3rd-party plugin and theme support. Adding third party support is an exciting, new feature which final solves a constantly asked question, “I just bought this theme or plugin, how do I use it on WordPress.com.

Please note, when you downgrade from one plan to another you will effectively lose access to the upper tier benefits, but you will not lose data. For example, if I have 13GB of storage with the Premium plan, then downgrade to the Free plan, I will not lose any of my media library, though, I will no longer be able to add new media until I clear up enough space.

Get a Profile

Every WordPress site is apart of the WordPress community, a sort of social network of user sites and blogs. The common thread that binds them all is Gravatar, an icon based service that presents you throughout the WordPress community. You can customize your Gravatar by clicking on the round icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and then Profile. Enter your details and upload an image, now you’re good to go!

Set A Title For Your Site

By default, your username will be used as your site’s title. You can change your title to something more unique by going to My Sites -> Customize -> Site Identity to name your site and give it a descriptive tagline.

Reader and My Sites Menus

Check out the Reader

The Reader is the WordPress community hub, a simplistic blog roll of all your favorite authors throughout the WordPress ecosystem. The Reader is tailored to things you love so that every time you log in you can find something that interests you.

The three main elements of the Reader are the Discover, Followed Sites, and Post features. On the Discover tab, you will see a blog roll of what’s hot on WordPress.com, feel free to read, share, comment and follow any posts that interest you.

Fittingly titled, the Followed Sites tab lists all of the most recent posts from your favorite blogs. You can also manage what blogs appear by clicking the Manage button next to the Followed Sites tab.

And since WordPress is all about self-expression, the Pencil and Paper Write icon in the top admin bar will show you a dropdown of all of your blogs, by selecting a blog you will be brought immediately to a new post editor so when brilliance strikes you will be ready to rock.

A great way to attract readers is to interact with other blog posts, leave comments, share and promote! If you are interested in finding new material, then look to the tags tab in the Reader menu. By adding a keyword you will instantly be recommended popular posts on that topic.

My Sites Menu

The My Sites menu allows you to switch between your sites on WordPress.com and all Jetpack enabled WordPress installations. Additionally, the My Sites menu serves as the main navigation around your admin interface.

If you click Switch Site you can easily navigate between all of your WordPress.com and Jetpack enabled WordPress.org site options.

Dashboard

The dashboard is all of the content within the My Site’s tab for any given site, consider this Mission Control. From here you can Publish posts, pages, and access your media library. You can also Personalize your site from the Theme Showcase, or Customize your site from the theme customizer. Under the Configure section, you can manage your Sharing options, add, edit, or remove users from the People tab, manage Plugins if you have a Business Upgrade, purchase and manage Domains, adjust site wide settings, and access the old WP-Admin interface.

Themes

Pick a theme

A theme is how your website looks and is structured and handles a great deal of the coding for you. WordPress.com offers hundreds of free and paid themes that look great across all devices, developed by professionals. Go to My Sites -> Themes to browse through the theme repo.

Use the search area to look up a specific feature or theme name, or filter your results by free, premium or all.

If you have upgraded to a Business Plan you can upload most third party themes formerly only found on WordPress.org self-hosted sites. This new feature has really expanded the reach of WordPress.com power-users! If you do upload a theme you would start by clicking the Upload Theme button in the upper right-hand corner of this screen and following the prompts, once activated your theme would be found at the top of the Themes page under Uploaded themes.

Beneath your Uploaded themes are the WordPress.com free and paid themes.

Click the three dots on the right-hand side of the theme thumbnail then click Live Demo to see a demo of the theme. Click Try & Customize to see how your content looks in the theme. This will load all of your post and page content into the theme and let you play around in the customizer before you decide to activate the theme.

Choosing a theme can be a bit daunting at first, but remember, your theme is meant to reflect you. Some themes may require a good amount of set up, this may not be what you need. Experiment with a couple different themes and try to find one that fits, you can always change your theme at another time. The vast majority of themes found on WordPress.com are responsive, meaning they will scale with the size of the device viewport. WordPress.com makes it easy to focus on your content instead of dealing with the overhead of creating a beautiful and accessible website.

Customizer – Set Up Your Theme

The Customizer allows you to change the layout, settings and display options of your site’s theme.

Site Identity

This section contains options to change your Site Title, Tagline, upload a Logo, add a Site Icon, and change the Footer Credit (depending on your upgrade).

Upload a custom header:

Headers, Jumbotrons, intro sliders, the introductory information of your blog goes by many names, but they all serve one purpose, to engage your reader. Most WordPress themes come with a custom header area that can be customized.

Head over to your customizer by clicking on My Sites -> Themes/Customize, then click on Header Image. Most themes will specify a specific size for the header image, so feel free to use Photoshop or a free online editor such as Pixlr to make the necessary cropping. Once you’re happy with the look, click Save & Publish.

Custom fonts and colors

If you upgrade your account to Personal, Premium, or a Business plan you will gain access to the custom font, colors, and CSS modules. Once you upgrade, go to your Customizer to begin experimenting with the new font, colors, and CSS tabs.

This upgrade will give you access to typefaces like Merriweather, Ubuntu and over 30 free Google Fonts. You can also adjust the text size for the Headings and Base fonts. Be sure to choose a more readable font for your base font and save the more whimsical fonts for headers.

You can also adjust the color palette of your theme. If you need a starting point, try using the suggested color palettes. You could also use a color palette generator like http://paletton.com/ and then submit your own colors.

Add unique content with widgets

Widgets are packaged features that can be added to predefined ‘widget areas’ which are decided by your theme. Most themes will include a sidebar, header and footer widget area. If you head over to the Widgets section in the  Customizer you can see what widget areas are available. I will cover widgets a bit more in depth in Pt. 2.

Adjust the custom fonts and colors of your site

Every theme handles these options differently, but they will all host these features in the Customizer. As you look through different sections such as headerfooter, and background you will see color pickers or custom font options, customize these options and then click Save & Publish.

Set up a Homepage (Static Front Page)

Setting up a standard web page with a static homepage is easy. If you combine your homepage with a few static pages and a custom menu, you will have a fully formed website.

Create the homepage

To start, go to My Sites -> Pages -> Add and call it Home. Add some placeholder text then save. Now add another page and title it something like ‘News’ or ‘Blog,’ something that will indicate a blog.

Lastly, go to My Sites -> Customize -> Static Front Page, then under Front page displays, choose Static page and select your Home page as the Front Page.

Next, add the blog page you created as the Posts page. Save everything by clicking Save & Publish. When you visit your web address you will see your Home page instead of your Posts page.

Now that you have a homepage, try adding some striking images, perhaps an image gallery, or even an image slider. You will also want to create a custom menu and add that from the customizer as your primary menu so visitors can reach your other pages. We will discuss Menus in the next section.

Wrap Up

Now that we have a static website with a dedicated blog page and a beautiful theme to structure our content, we now need to start writing and adding engaging content to build traffic.


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