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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 –
- Single Project Page –
- Project Type Archive –
- Project Tag Archive –
For instance, here is my portfolio set up in the four different ways seen above, click each link to view:
- Portfolio Archive –
- Single Project Page –
- Project Type Archive –
- Project Tag Archive –
/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
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 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:
This shortcode is also customizable 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)
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.
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.