Become a Master Blogger: The Ultimate Blogging Guide (Series Three).

Learn How to Use WordPress.

Overview

Using WordPress is one of the basic skills you need to learn as a blogger. In this chapter, you’ll learn how to:

  • Customize your WordPress blog.
  • Create design and layout changes.
  •  Create your first post and page.

The WordPress front-end and back-end.

WordPress platform comes in twofold: front and back-end. Your readers and listeners are found on the front-end while theme customization, plugin functionality enhancements, and content publication takes place on the back-end.
Furthermore, you can comment or share on a blog post from either front or back-end.
Mostly known as the dashboard WordPress backend is the center of your blog’s management in terms of content, community, design, and functionality.

Traversing the dashboard.

The basic blog administration options are located on the left-hand column of your dashboard. On this menu side, you can configure and manage updates, posts, media, pages, comments, appearance and plugins. Also, you can customize users, tools management, and general blog settings.

A closer look at each area of a dashboard.

Updates.

Updates are a way of introducing new features, fix bugs and increase your website’s security. Unlike the previous versions of WordPress where updates were manually carried out on the dashboard, the latest versions have updates automatically installed on your website.

Posts.

As a blogger, you are required to add new content on your website every now and then. To do this, the Posts menu allows you to publish as well as edit your content with ease.

Media.

The media manager on your WordPress enables you to upload media content to your website including photos, videos, and audio files.

Pages.

Pages comprise of the About, Contact and Services content that readers find information on your website.

Comparison between Posts vs. pages.

Your blog content will be displayed on pages and posts. While they have similarities, they serve different purposes and have different behaviors. They both have the following in common
Some of the common features of posts and pages include among others, a title or headline, contain text and other media like photos or videos.

Difference between posts and pages.

Ideally, pages do not comprise the main part of your blog content as it focuses on issues that relate to you like your contact information. Alternatively, posts will form part of your main content as it comprises of the latest articles on your blog.

Comments.

The comments section allows readers to interact with you on your blog by either adding their own comments, ask questions or deliver feedback.
You have the ability to engage with your readers in the comments section, regulate, approve and moderate them as you so wish from the dashboard.

Appearance.

Most of the activity in terms of changing the design and layout of your blog takes place in the appearance menu. In most cases, you’ll find theme options, general customization settings, and widgets. Also, the menus section, header, background customization options are available on the appearance section of your blog.

More on themes (blog design and layout).

Readers find websites with a good design and layout interesting to visit and so you should choose the best themes for your blog. Besides selecting a theme that is eye-catching and, ensures it is the right theme for your unique content purposes.
Before you settle for a theme, check its description to learn more about its features, check it’s ratings to find out how the theme is performing, and check whether its responsive to mobile devices and desktop browsers.
It is recommended to publish content on your blog on a regular basis in order to experience the full functions of your blog.

Free, premium, and custom themes.

Besides the free themes, bloggers are advised to consider going for the premium or custom themes which provide a professional blogging experience.
In most cases, you may find yourself at crossroads when in search for the best theme for your specific needs. The search for a theme that best fits your needs is indeed mind blowing especially if you are in a competitive nice.
If you are at crossroads and you can’t satisfactorily locate the right install button, I recommend you explore more on WooThemes, StudioPress, and Elegant Themes. Prices range from $30 -$500 depending on other concerns, the type and complexity of its features.
Custom themes are created by an individual developer (coder and designer, or agency) who will either customize an existing theme or create a brand new theme for you. While coming with clear-cut advantages, they are not the ideal choice for beginner bloggers due to their high cost. Prices to customize a theme range from $500 to $2,000, depending on the features you want.

Advanced customization.

Now, let’s look at the areas in your WordPress dashboard where you can do most of your customizations.

Plugins.

Plugins are bundled pieces of code that affect the way your blog looks or feels. They can add new functionality to your blog, extend your theme’s capabilities and customize your blog as a whole or in part. While a majority of plugins are free, there is plenty that is offered for a fee based on their unique functionality.

Best plugins for new bloggers.

As a new blogger, you’ll need some basic plugins to kick start and enhance your blogging journey. Here is a list of the recommended ones:

  • WP Super Cache to speed up your load time
  • Google Analytics-monitoring and analyzing your website traffic
  • Contact Form 7 for your email marketing
  • Yoast SEO (free)for SEO purposes
  • Akismet to protect you from comment spam

Additional menu options.

WordPress offers a wide range of other additional menu options where you can manage users of your blog, be able to provide all administrative functions on your blog, as well as write, edit and publish articles, posts and upload media. Additionally, readers can subscribe, and contribute on your blog using respective buttons.

Tools.

Some of the available tools that assist you to perform and execute some extended tasks on your WordPress blog include “Press This”, import tool and export tool to share, import and export data respectively.

Settings.

This menu contains all of the settings options for your WordPress site.

General.

From the general options, you can easily configure the site name, description, date format, URL and the main administrator email of your blog.

Writing.

Provides the option to adjust categories and post formats for you content failure to which WordPress will assign a default category and format.

Reading

The reading option enables you to set the home page of your blog to static or the latest blog posts. Also, you can set the number of blog posts to appear on your home page and archives, determine whether you want to display your full post or as an excerpt.

Discussion

The discussion option regulates how comments appear on your blog. As best practice will require, moderate all new comment authors. Also, comments that come with multiple links should be held in moderation.

Media

Customize the default sizes for images uploaded to your blog.

Permalinks

Use the post name structure to customize the URL structure for your blog. This option allows keywords from your post or page to be shown in your URL

Final Thoughts

The more time you spend to learn your dashboard, the better you can improve on your blog’s design, functionality and personality.

5 thoughts on “Become a Master Blogger: The Ultimate Blogging Guide (Series Three).

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