New to book blogging on WordPress? Never fear I’ve got you covered, well partially covered with this post, as I’m sure there are other tips I’ve missed and have yet to discover myself! Whether you’re new to using a free WordPress account or you’ve been using it for a while, hopefully this post can help make your blogging life a wee bit easier.
I remember when I first started blogging, there weren’t many posts I could find which compiled a list of tips/helpful things to know, about using free WP. In this post I’ll be covering some of the things I’ve learned along the way, which I believe will help you endlessly in getting the most out of free WP. (there’s not a lot to get out of free WP, so we’re squeezing it here like we’re making lemonade and need every last drop of juice).
Use The Read More Tag = We Love Excerpts In This Corner
Scrolling through a persons blog shouldn’t feel like you’re scrolling endlessly. That’s why we have excerpts friends, we love excerpts and sadly not all of WP free themes automatically make your posts show up as excerpts. This is why you’ll want to be using the read more tag. (I’ve linked to WordPress’s explanation and how to use it.)
Rename Your Uploaded Media = Searching Becomes Easier
I didn’t realise you could actually search your WP media until I’d been blogging for nearly a year. Yes. I was scrolling all the way through my media to find the right images and it was painful. Very painful and I don’t recommend. Rename any images you upload, try and have a system of sorts so future you will be able to easily pull up the images you need for a post.
Obviously the search bar is right there but when I first started I think the search bar wasn’t as obvious….or I was just oblivious to it being right in front of me. Then when you click on an image you’ll get the right most panel of info pop up, which is where you can rename your photos, grab links etc. I personally rename my images before I upload them to my media for ease.
Quick Edit Is Super Handy
Hi I’ve been blogging almost 3 years and only recently discovered quick edit is a lifesaver. If you only want to edit/double check your posts title, link, date, category, tags then it’s easier to use the quick edit option then going into the whole post when you’re not wanting to actually edit the main body of the post. (your slug is your link by the way!)
Hovering your mouse over a post, will bring up the options above, you want to click on the 2nd one in, which will get you to the quick edit screen.
After clicking “quick edit” you should see the screen above, where you can make any quick edits you need to, with ease. I’ve also been using it to change my drafts to the pending review section and vice versa as I have a system (which will get explained a bit later on!)
Adding Admin To Your URL = The Cogs Of Your Site
I’m 99% sure it was Soph who told me about this because she’s fabulous and has more blogging experience than me. If you go onto your blogs homepage (make sure you’re logged into your WP account) and up in the URL add onto the end (after the .com/ part) admin. Press enter and….
We go from this screen above to the one below!
Welcome friends, to the back end so to speak of Cuppa Clo. This gets you to the back end of your blog where all the cogs turn to keep your site working, from here anything is possible.
almost anything I mean I’m still salty we can’t use CSS on free WP
Something else I found pretty handy was the ability to bulk edit from the post section (whilst you’re in the back end of your site). I tend to bulk edit posts of the same category, where I need to make sure they’re all in the same category, have the same tags added. It’s quicker than doing it post by post.
From the post section here, you’ll want to highlight the amount of posts you want to bulk edit, then click on the drop down select edit.
This should appear at the top of your screen and from here, you can bulk edit to your hearts content. You can also remove the posts from your bulk edit, if you need to, which I find helpful if certain tags don’t apply to them.
Comments & Pingbacks
Again whilst we’re in the back end, go onto your comments and you can select it to only view pingbacks, which I usually do to make sure I’ve not missed any tags people have tagged me in. You can also reply to your comments from here if you want to. On the topic of pingbacks, if you’re tagging someone make sure you use a blog post of there’s to ping so they’ll get a notification. (this doesn’t always work for people who are on self hosted/on another platform but for people on WordPress you should get a notification that someone’s pinged you!)
Post Organisation: Drafts, Pending Review, Scheduled etc
Originally I used to have all my drafts in well the draft section, you know where they should be right? I discovered I could actually save my drafts into a separate section called “pending review” which I now use to keep myself organised.
Above is a snapshot of what you’ll see when you click onto the “Posts” section from the back end of your blog. Now you won’t see all the categories if you haven’t scheduled a post, saved a post to pending or trashed a post. You should be able to see at least three of the categories (all, published and drafts).
I personally have criteria for my posts to meet before they’ll get bumped into the pending review section, otherwise they sit in drafts.
- Drafts: ideas that need fleshing out a lot more, half written intros, partially set up tag posts, a title and an empty body of text
- Pending Review: fully (or mostly) written, needs editing/formatting still, I want to use the post for this/next month
I have been known to shove a post into pending review when it’s half written and still full of me rambling about god knows what BUT I intend to use it for the current month or next month so I put it there to draw my attention to it. Since my attention is all over the place and I’m likely to forget. You of course don’t have to use the pending review section if you don’t want to but I really like the ability to separate my drafts out, makes it easier to find what I’m looking for.
WordPress Account Settings
Navigate to your WordPress account, you’ll see the screen below, something I personally recommend you do is fill out the sections. (I wouldn’t include your last name but that’s just me) and include a bio because some people do click across to view your profile. Whilst you should have a bio and an about page on your blog ideally, some people like to blog hop by going through the comments sections on other people’s posts. This means your bio will appear there and may help people to hop to your site.
Again this is personal preference, I make my public display name my name @ my blogs name so people know I’m a blogger right off the bat, without needing to click anywhere. Your profile picture can of course be anything, something I find helpful is to keep a consistent profile pic, running across your blog and social media. As I’ve recognised someone from their profile pic on twitter by seeing it appear in my notifications from them liking/commenting on posts.
Now if you flick from the “my profile” section down to “account settings” this will get you to the screen below!
When you’re liking and commenting on people’s posts on WordPress, the website you link to will be what people will click on so it’s useful to link it to your blog if you have one. If you don’t have a blog on WordPress then I’d suggest linking it to your blog site/the social media you’re most active in. I’ve done it before were I click to see who’s been liking/commenting on my posts only to end up a dead end. Make sure the link here works, ask someone to double check for you that it is working and if you rebrand your blog, change platforms etc then remember to update it. Or you can hope you have awesome blogging friends who poke you when they notice your link is going to your old site. (thank you friends I love y’all!)
Lack Of Customisation But HTML Saves The Day
Now Blogger is a wonderful platform for how much customisation you can do, you can use CSS on there which I’m slightly jealous about. Free WordPress is limited with what you can customise, even on the themes you can be really limited, which is why it’s important you make sure you’re happy with your theme before you go for it. If you want more customisation then I’d suggest looking into going self hosted because WordPress’s paid plans just aren’t worth it in my opinion.
Related Post: check out Kal @ Reader Voracious post on Paid WordPress vs Self Hosted: What I Wish The Guides Told Me which is the first post in a 4 part series. I highly recommend you check out all 4 of her posts, whether you choose to go self hosted or not, she does a grand job of breaking things down, highlighting any pitfalls etc.
For me HTML is a wonderful thing which brings my blog to life and allows you to have some control over how your blog and the posts look. I personally have a blog post in my drafts called “HTML Sheet” full of the HTML I use on a regular basis in my posts, since I don’t use the block editor (and I am still terrified to use it).
HTML is a lifesaver for curating clean, sharp and pretty looking blog posts as well as helping you spice up your blogs side bar!
Related Post: Jeimy @ A Novel Idea has A Tutorial On HTML For Book Bloggers which is how come I have cute boxes now, so shout out to Jeimy for putting the post together!
We Don’t Get Plugins
If you didn’t already know this then I’m sorry to break this news to you but we don’t get plugins. In fact plugins are only available by buying a business package on WordPress (hence why I’d say you’d be better to just go self hosted and save money). Plugins are handy tools that sadly we don’t get to play with.
and break our site in the process…
Templates & Block Editor
I am a big fan of templates, which are easy to make and save you loads of time, if you write reviews I’d suggest creating a template for your reviews. I personally use the “copy” button to copy an old post and edit it from there (that’s how I edit my rewind posts and bullet journal posts) because I am too lazy to actually set up a template post for those posts, as I’d just forget to use it.
I have a template/sheet which holds all my HTML, the graphics I use in their exact sizes so I can just copy and paste what I need into the post, as I format them. It’s also handy to have as I reformat old posts, it saves time going through your other posts looking for that one piece of HTML you need. Collate it in one place, then just open that post when you work on your posts!
Related Post: An excellent post to check out from Isabelle @ Nine Tale Vixen is Guide: Formatting Posts Using Templates, Classic + Reusable Blocks.
This ended up being a longer post than intended however I hope it’ll help y’all with your blogs! Blogging isn’t as easy as it first appears, so if you have any questions feel free to leave them below! Did you know all of these tips?