For those who are new to the world of blogging, taking on WordPress may seem overwhelming at first. As with any new program or endeavor, there will be a learning curve, however, WordPress is an incredibly intuitive platform that allows users to customize their work in a variety of ways. This concise guide will help you become familiar with some of the standard WordPress features that will allow you to navigate WordPress and become an expert at designing, customizing and publishing posts.
WordPress is a more dynamic platform than Blogger, and based on the huge community of WordPress developers (it’s estimated 25% of all websites run on WordPress), means that WordPress is a much better platform than Drupal or Joomla, it’s competitors.
In this post we focus on WordPress features, visit our guide on how to use WordPress to create a website.
This is a list of features based on WordPress 4.1 or higher.
1. How to Add a New Blog Post to WordPress
This is perhaps the most important feature and the first step in creating any blog post. Once you log into your WordPress dashboard, you will be able to view the back-end, which features several important menus. The menu on the left hand side contains the main categories that will allow you to create and edit a post, as well as, customize your entire site.
To get started, simply click on the push-pin symbol next to the word “Posts.” A drop down menu will appear and you can choose between viewing all previous posts and doing some editing to work that you have already saved or you can create a whole new post. The WordPress editor works much like other word processing tools and programs that most people are familiar with, so you should be able to start writing without any problems.
2. How to Add Media to WordPress
Not only does adding media simply make each post more interesting and engaging, it also helps your work rank better on major search engines. This means that the more visually appealing you make each of your posts, the more likely people are to come across it as they search the web. Adding pictures and videos is by far the simplest thing any blogger can do to improve their work and make it more SEO friendly.
3. Visual and Text Modes
As you are working, there are a few different ways to view your work. At the top right hand corner, you should see two tabs. One labeled “Visual” and one labeled “Text.” When you are in visual mode, you will be able to do a lot of basic word processing functions such as: making text bold, adding special alignments, and inserting bullet points. In text mode, all of the formatting will be represented in traditional html language. If you are familiar with coding, you may feel more comfortable formatting everything in this mode. In addition, text mode can be helpful in fixing glitches that may occur and cause your published post to look different that what you have created.
4. Distraction Free Writing
Easily distracted? Especially while trying to put together a tough post? Luckily, WordPress has also created a mode for that. Directly below the “Text” mode tab, you will see a box with arrows pointing away from the four corners. If you click on this button, you will be able to view just your post without having to also look at the sidebar menus while you work. For those who have trouble concentrating, this more traditional view may help you to finish your work a little bit faster.
5. Create Headings
Another fundamental tool in blogging involves the use of headings throughout your posts. Unlike other forms of writing, blogs are meant to be viewed on a computer or mobile device, which means that articles can appear as one long column of text. Adding headings throughout your writing not only helps to visually break up your work and make it more palatable to readers, it can also help you better organize your ideas under specific categories. Readers can then skip ahead to their personal areas of interest without feeling overwhelmed by a giant amount of text. Headings are also search engine friendly and represent another simple tool that will help your site get noticed.
Simply click on the drop down menu and you will be able to choose from a variety of heading sizes.
6. Add Links
Inserting links into your posts is another great way to create more dynamic content and increase your presence on the web. You should work on incorporating links to other articles that have been published on your site and links to high quality articles by authors on the web. Encouraging readers to visit more pages within your site will lead to better site performance and linking to other writers is a great way to build relationships. Hopefully, they will return the favor. Luckily, WordPress makes it extremely easy to add links. Simply click on the chain icon in the toolbar and enter the correct link address.
7. Change your Theme
The first step in customizing your site is to pick a theme that best highlights your work and appeals to your own sense of style and design. When you first setup your blog, a default theme will appear, but you can quickly and easily change themes and choose a whole new design and color palate.
In the left hand side bar menu, click on Appearance. Choose the Theme option and you will be taken to a screen that shows all the theme that you currently have downloaded. At the very top of the screen, there is a search box that will allow you to find specific themes. You might want to start by browsing through free themes and doing some research on which themes are best suited to the type of content you will be publishing.
8. Customize your Theme
There are numerous ways to customize your theme, but perhaps the easiest to go to Appearance >> Theme Options >> General Settings. This is where you can add a logo or header image for your site. If you are using your blog to promote a business, this is exactly where you will want to place your logo so that readers can start to become familiar with your brand and associate that image with your name and your work. This screen will also allow you to add images and logos in other key places on the homepage for maximum visibility.
9. Design a Custom Color Scheme
WordPress themes will come with a color scheme already in place. But what if the color scheme of your favorite theme clashes with the colors in your company logo? You can customize the appearance of your site and choose the exact colors your want. Under the Appearance >> Theme Options menu, you will also find a section labeled “Styling Options.” This is where you should head make any adjustments to background colors, font colors and styles and a variety of other appearance related details.
10. How to Use WordPress Widgets
Another feature under the “Appearance” menu allows you to add widgets to your site. Essentially, this means that you can add all sorts of categories to the sidebar menu that appears on every page of your site. For most sites, this is where publishers include social media buttons, an list of archived articles, newsletter subscription boxes and a variety of other options. Once you are in the widget menu, you can browse the different available standard widgets and simply drag the ones you want to include on your site to the right hand column labeled “Sidebar.” Widgets allow you to further customize your site.
11. Monetize your Site
WordPress allows you to monetize your site so that you can make money blogging. While there are a variety of different ways to go about using your blog to earn money, by far the easiest route is to add Google AdWords advertisements to your site. Most of the ads are small, text based ads that are unobtrusive and won’t detract from the overall look and continuity of your site. Each time a visitor clicks on one of the ads, you will earn a small commission. Essentially, you are renting out space on your site.
You can quickly and easily place ads in the sidebar menu of your site by using the Google Adsense widget that is already available in every theme or you can read more on how to incorporate ads throughout your site when you click here.
12. Add Tags to your Blog Posts
Part of what makes WordPress the most popular publishing platform available is that it offers so many convenient features that are specifically designed to help you reach an audience and become a successful blogger. The “Tags” section located in the right hand sidebar menu of the dashboard provides yet another tool that will help your posts gain traction on the web. By adding “tags” or a list of keywords that relate to your article, you will help search engines to crawl your site and identify quality content and allow readers to find the information they are looking for as quickly as possible. This simple, standard feature is both a great organizational tool and a way to make your site even more user friendly.
13. How to Add and Use Wordpress Plugins
Once you have the hang of WordPress and how to create and edit posts and customize certain aspects of your site, you can begin to explore the world of WordPress plugins. While the dashboard provides plenty of options for making adjustments to your site, plugins allow you to take things one step further by adding small bits of code to your site that can provide all sorts of functionality. There are literally thousands of free plugins available that can add slideshows, help evaluate your SEO strength, protect your site from spam and much more. Click here to learn about some of the best plugins that every site should have.
14. Set Featured Image
The set featured image option allows you to choose a specific image that will appear on the homepage and correspond to each new post. This feature also provides an editor so that you can adjust the size of your image and make sure that it looks crisp and clear no matter what size featured image is highlighted with your particular theme. Choosing a compelling featured image can go a long way to attract readers, so take be sure to take advantage of this feature and display your newest post in the best way possible.
15. How to Publish your Post in WordPress
The absolute best feature of WordPress – the publish button! Before you it that big blue button, be sure to check the settings. In the vast majority of cases, you will want to make sure that the “Stick this post to front page” box is checked under the visibility option. This will ensure that your latest post appears right at the top of your homepage. If you publish your post without checking this box, the post will go live, but won’t be easily visible to readers.
WordPress offers a long list of great features that make it easy to use and customize. Becoming familiar with the 15 features listed above will give you a solid foundation for creating a well-designed and search engine friendly site that will attract readers and build a loyal following.