THIS POST HAS BEEN SUPERCEDED BY A VASTLY NEW AND IMPROVED VERSION FOUND HERE
YouTube-ing was modified, hypertext linking was added… Even WP Support was linked to (!).
BLOGGING BASICS: The Essentials
Where’s the Snow?
After “never post a post as long as this one”, this is the second most important WordPress blogging factoid to learn, Grasshopper: At Christmas-etc. time, everyone around you will have snow falling on their blog and you won’t know how they did it.
“Go to SETTINGS–> General–That’s how.”
(You won’t see the button there NOW, but it will be there in season. Trust me.)
Name Your Blog Unlike Anything Else You Can Google
Most of you are saying “Duh”, but for the rest of you:
You want people to find your blog, and only your blog, when they search for it, don’t you? Dummy here didn’t think about this when I named MY blog. “The Last Half”. The last half of what? Of everything that exists, apparently. Google it, and you’ll see. You’ll see everything—except my blog.
At least folks can find it by Outlier Babe–whew!
Tags vs. Categories
Tags are google search terms. They don’t have to be single words. If someone googles “wee green turtles”, and one of my posts has the tag “small olive turtles”, I have a tiny chance of a hit. If the post also talks about itty-bitty emerald turtles, and teensy chartreuse turtles, I have an even better chance.
Do not use more than…oh, ten tags (I stop at twelve, max). Fewer may be even better. Google’s googlyfier [web crawler] will say “Aren’t YOU the greedy piggy?”, and refuse to give you ANY search hit candy.
Categories exist ONLY to group posts by topic. A blog can offer menus or pages (or both, I guess) of posts per category. The menu across the top of The Last Half (that’s MY blog, in case you’ve already forgotten my blog name)
:'( is a category menu.
How To Use Smilies
The smilie’s the link. Don’t go nuts, now:
:) But when you want to use one, start a new line with the smilie. Otherwise, some readers will see the smilie as gobbledygook instead of a face.
Beware the “Visual” Vs. “Text” Editor
“Visual”? “Text”? Can you not see them both? Are they not both written with text? Whatever, WordPress Overlords…
Even if you know you’re never-ever going to use any of that scary html mumbo-jumbo, you are.
If you use the Non-Html (Visual) editor sometimes and the Html (Text) editor other times, you are going be be one sad blogger, because WordPress has an undocumented feature
where when you switch over from one to the other, your post content is corrupted–a bit or a bunch.
Don’t be sad, be glad! For you were saved by this warning.
You CAN start off all posts in Visual (Non-Html) mode. If you don’t need to add any html commands, that works. But once you leave the “Visual” track, you should never go back.
Consider Downloading Your Images
You’ve been blogging a while. Everything’s goin’ great. You go back to re-read your earlier posts, and
Whaat?! What happened to your images?
Someone deleted ’em off the web, that’s what happened. That’s why, instead of Uploading Image directly from web versions, I save images to my own drive first. Then, I upload from my copies.
Make Images Look Large, Be Small
You know: Like the opposite of the joke about how to catch an elephant with a glass, a pair of binoculars, and tweezers.
You don’t know that joke? You’re kidding! Why that joke’s so old, the first time I heard it, I fell off my dinosaur laughing! What? You never heard that, either? Jeez! Did you skip childhood altogether?
Here we go:
Those 1951 Boy Scouts Were Confused: This Boy’s Life Talks About An Alligator!
WordPress takes forever to load huge images (for those with slower connections). Time and readers wait for no blog. Make sure your images aren’t taking over the world.
This matters more if you use a bunch of images in each post. If only one or two, not a big deal.
I use plain old Paint to quickly check image size. Unless I think image detail is vital (like a beautiful photograph), I resize down to no more than a sixth of the Paint display. You can also sort your Pictures directory in descending order by size to find any piggies. (Note that animated GIFs, which are large, can’t be shrunken, or their animations will fail.)
The bulk of my images are 75KB or less, except some photos.
Force Blank Lines Between Paragraphs
In the Text editor, put this html command on those lines:
Otherwise, as of March, 2015, some blank lines between paragraphs will disappear when your post is displayed on some phones. Your nice, short paragraphs will look like a Faulkner sentence (endless egotistical blathering that would never have been published, much less praised, had the author been female).
No one younger than 30 will bother reading your brilliant writing, except people who actually read Faulkner for fun.
How To Do An “Instream” Link in a Comment
Say you want to tell your friend Alfonse “You should check out this blog!” and make the word “blog” be a link to the blog. Here’s how you’d do it:
Check out this
1. Go to view the video on Youtube.
2. Click the Share icon.
3. Copy the “shortlink” you see there.
4. Go to this WordPress support link.
5. Skip ahead to the section Embedding With a Shortcode and read from that header on down. That’s got the beginner-ish stuff. Later you can get all fancy.
Notice how I waited until the end to tack on that exclamation mark, instead of putting it right after “blog”. Avoid special characters [punctuation] inside html commands unless they’re part of the command requirements.
How to Cut Down on YouTube Distractions
If a Youtube ends by showing other video choices, readers can wander away from your post and blog.
You can stop this. You can also start the video somewhere instead of at the beginning, and/or end it before the end.
Instead of using the “vanilla” WordPress Visual or Text Editor method of adding a YouTube, follow the directions given in the WordPress Support post below, but you should read all FIVE of these BEFORE you link over there:
How to Add Sound To Your Free WP Blog
1. Embed a SoundCloud song or playlist
2. Include a link to a Google Docs MP3 or MP4 Audio File that’s marked as “Shared”. Your reader will see an ugly blank screen with a sound bar, but at least they can play the audio you want them to hear. There’s an example in this post.
3. Link to a Vine or YouTube you’ve made of your finger with a smiley face, dancing to your audio.
How to Change the the Order of Your Posts
(And: How to Make A Blog Like a Book!)
This post tells you. Oh!: If you ever post a new post but don’t see it on your blog–where did it go?–search for it in All Posts. WordPress sometimes hiccups and jams a past date into a brand-new post (drove me NUTS debugging this).
WordPress is Out to Help You
You have a WordPress question, so you google. If the solution mentions “plug-ins”, it’s for wordpress.ORG folks, not wordpress.COM. Some solutions apply only to those folk who are PAYing for their blogs and have customized tweaks. You can be way down a rabbit hole before you once again slap your forehead between your long, furry ears.
Instead, use the WordPress.com support and forums sites. (But me, I still google, too.)
WordPress Is Out To Get You
WordPress will suddenly drop a blog from the “Blogs I Follow”. You won’t notice for weeks–months! If the blogger knows you, s/he will be getting hurt or angry that you’ve dropped them. Clearly, WordPress is evil.
Snap a picture of your “Blogs I Follow” list every so often, so you can replace any missing sheep when the WordPress wolf gobbles them up. As you restore sheep, peer closely at the WordPress window and hiss threateningly “Ha! Not THIS time, WordPress!”.
Big Duh: Make Your Title and Opening Lines HOT!!
If you’re rolling your eyes at how obvious this is, you don’t need this hint. I did. For two years, my post titles and first lines put the hundred-eyed Argos to sleep.
Set a Featured Image On Every Post
When a new visitor does a Search, or clicks on a tag, or makes a choice in a category menu, s/he sees several of your posts listed. If you don’t have Featured Images set, all they’re going to see are a bunch of words. Don’t you think great images will help attract them to stop and read a post or two?
Also, WordPress has an oops if you don’t set Featured Images: When you “Quick Edit” a post, the image that used to be shown to readers can–surprise!–randomly change to another image.
(If you don’t yet know what Quick Edit is, in short, it’s when you’re looking at All Posts, and you can change just a few little things quickly, like tags and categories–even on more than one post at once.)
Use a Large Font
Older people like bigger letters. Younger people like fewer words. Bigger letters make it look like fewer words.
If the theme you picked has a small fontsize, use the first line below as your first line, and the last line below as your last line.
(the rest of your post goes here)
(You can also set that font-size to medium or small.)
Use Really Short Paragraphs
Shorter paragraphs seem like fewer words. Break your longer paragraphs up, even if it feels wrong.
Use Shorter Sentences and Words
Use Bold Picture Captions
Depending upon your theme, or the reader’s type of device, captions can appear faint and irksome. When you’re Adding Media, as you type in your caption, you can type these html commands in front and behind it to make it bold:
<strong>Here's My Caption</strong>
“Best Blog Ever!”
“Share On Facebook!”
“$10 to PayPal# 1343-65338″
Credit Your Pics
Be a mensch, or womanensch ;) [a good person] and give credit:
(1) A clickable link to the page where you found the image (WordPress gives you a way to do this). Disadvantage? The link can “break” if that page goes away. I only link where I think my readers will find it helpful or amusing.
(2) Include that page’s address or photo/maker credit on the image (with an image editor) or in its caption. Disadvantage? You might not want it there!
(3) In the html gobbledygook WordPress creates for the image, insert
Title=“credit, or address where I found it”.
I stick this in front of the
Disadvantage? Tedious. Advantage? Anything you put in “Title” shows when a reader passes their cursor over an image. Think of the subliminal [subconscious influence] possibilities!:
People WOMEN Who Follow You Expect You To Follow Them
If you are a woman, most women who Follow you expect you to Follow them. It is my opinion/observation that, if you are a man, or your follower is a man, there is not the same degree of expectation. But I could be wrong.
Many new followers are happy when you follow them back even if you never read their posts. I find this… It doesn’t matter what I find it. It just is.
Since many bloggers post often–sometimes daily–this mutual-following etiquette can make your WordPress Reader worthless overnight.
It floods with posts you could not possibly read. What some folks do is click “Like”, “Like”, “Like” automatically to all of these. Or just to the posts of their online friends, still without bothering to read most of these.
Do however you think best regarding Follows and Likes. Usually, mutual Liking and Following brings only mutually-rewarding happiness, and many close online friendships. Just be aware that ueneath calm surface waters may lurk…junior high school.
Don’t Self-Link On a First Visit
Don’t link to your own blog or one of your own posts the first time you go to someone else’s blog. Or the second time. That is just low-class, frankly. One of the cheesiest ways this is usually done is through flattery:
“Great post! I’ve reposted you on (my blog’s link).”
“Great post! I’ve reposted you.”
What you should be doing when you visit someone’s blog for the first time or two is seeing if there is anything positive and genuine you can say. If not, move on.
If You Run Out of Things To Blog About
I always have too MUCH to say–just not enough time/energy/wit to articulate it–but for the rest of you, there’s this.
What do YOU wish YOU’D known? What did I get wrong? What have I been doing that’s dumb? (Three years in, and I’m still learning.)
How I posted the html source code you see here without the commands actually getting executed