When it comes to blogging you can’t go wrong with WordPress. By today’s standards it’s held as the de-facto software download to start your own blog or magazine. The blogging craze has blown up on the Internet recently and shows just how powerful our communications truly are.
When just starting off writing the WordPress admin panel can be intimidating. There are some areas which do not relate to writing and other aspects which are just plain confusing. WordPress’ official website has much of this cleared up, but hands-on practice will go a long way.
Below I’ve gone over a few areas in WordPress keen to the eye of the writer. Blogging is pretty straightforward and can be a lot of fun if you enjoy writing. However, writing for the web appears much differently and offers a whole slew of advantages than physical pen and paper.
Assuming everything is installed and running properly writing becomes the next challenge. Upon first entering the admin panel you’ll notice all of the main links you need listed vertically along the left side. Posts should jump out towards the very top.
This area holds all of your post content, including drafts and publications you’re currently working on. All published articles will also be listed, but you can sort the lists based on the publication type. Articles are sorted chronologically by default which makes accessing your newest pieces a breeze.
By clicking the small arrow next to Posts or the link itself a new menu will be revealed. From here you can add and remove posts, categories, and tags. Each of the individual pages make up a great area for creativity. If you don’t enjoy creating such labels in advance WordPress allows you to add them on-the-fly when writing a post.
Examining the Writing Board
Try clicking the add new link underneath the Posts section. This will bring you to a new post page where you can add your own content into the site. The entire process is fairly straightforward – a heading and body input field are displayed in the center column. Between the two a URL will be created as an example of what your new post will look like.
On the right sidebar the Publish menu offers easy access to changing your article’s publication method. All posts are saved as drafts when you initially begin writing. Only by pressing the large blue Publish button will your posts go live.
In this same menu there are options for changing the article’s publication date and time. This can be useful if you want to put a large amount of articles live in a single day but don’t want to remove a certain post from the headline position.
Alternatively you may publish an article a few months back as your site will still rank well, assuming the article takes some notice and backlinks.
Categories and Tags
These two features often overlap and many WP users don’t use both. I find each offers a unique expression which the other cannot match. Although this method is not used everywhere, I find outlining the categories feature as primary and unique simplifies the whole process.
By this I mean each post is only set into a single category followed by numerous tags. This could be 3 or 30, honestly it depends on your blog and how well received your template is at holding large clusters of tags. Google and Bing may also ignore your tag links since each post would be seeded full of them.
Both will affect your page’s ranking and even your website when it comes to keywords found in search engine queries. This is why I argue tags, most notably in tag cloud format, offer a unique experience to the reader which newspapers and television just can’t offer. The even greater benefit here is how WordPress allows you to check the most used tags and categories directly from your post page. If you’re struggling for ideas just start typing a few letters and WP’s autosuggest feature will do the rest.
Although this isn’t a requirement I find excerpts to be very useful for some styles of WordPress blogs. In more contemporary themes you’ll find custom functions written to trim down each article automatically and provide a preview on the home screen.
Excerpts are another option which gives the writer full control in manually editing this preview. WordPress posts may all have their own custom excerpt which is well documented in WordPress’ codex.
Additionally moving a bit down the page you’ll find some extended options. These can be used for larger blogs and digital magazines running a slew of posts and authors each day. You may disable comments from any given article if discussions are too heated or inappropriate. The Author segment allows you to easily update the current post’s author, which will still change even after the post has been published.
Writing in HTML View
If you are fairly knowledgeable with HTML and web standards I would highly recommend switching writing views. Initially after page load you may notice the body text has pre-determined styles applied.
These will affect all your post’s internal elements such as tables, paragraphs, headings, and hyperlinks. By default you are given the visual editor which is great for those who write articles in Microsoft Word or Google Docs and copy over formatting. But within the HTML tab you will find much more control in the code processing.
Adding images and page breaks can be a huge pain within the visual editor. It’s a clunky WYSIWYG textarea, which is great for the newbie writer! But in all honesty I’d even recommend the newbie pick up a few tutorials and learn how to write in straight HTML. The level of control is pristine and once you turn over it’s difficult going back.
Inspiration for writing may come from anywhere. In the blink of an eye you pick up on a fascinating idea and wish to take down notes. WordPress is easily the best system for saving drafts, notes, and ideas for publication at a later date.
This simple overview should give writers a detailed look inside how writing over WordPress works. If you’re just getting started writing the only true test of knowledge is practice and more practice. Ensure you’re writing about a topic you are truly passionate about. I find web design and user experience are fascinating topics – but truly any practice will dramatically improve your blogging skills in just a few weeks!