There are tons of awesome blogging platforms to consider, but WordPress is definitely one of the most popular content management systems out there – and with good reason. It’s easy to use and easy to customize, even if you’re a beginner.
But as you begin to use it more and more, you start learning little tricks. I’ve stumbled upon some fantastic time-savers that make me almost want to scream, “WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THIS SOONER?!?!”
So I’m going to tell you these things, and I apologize for not telling you sooner! Experiences users, hopefully you still find a gem or two in here, and please leave your own favorite hack with a comment below!
Let’s start out with a simple tip, but one I didn’t realize was an option until well into my blogging career. It can be annoying to type a post in such a small box. First and foremost, if you scroll to the bottom of the left-hand sidebar when signed into your blog and editing a post, you’ll see “collapse menu.” Click on this text to get rid of that sidebar (don’t worry – you can easily get it back). It’s instantly a little more space. But an even better option is WordPress’ Fullscreen Mode.
There are actually two fullscreen modes. If you click the button that looks like a, square with arrows pointing at the corners (see picture), you’ll get a full screen mode with limited button options for easy, quick typing. If you press Alt+Shift+G you’ll get a version with the full bar of buttons for easier formatting. Both are great, especially if you’re working with a lot of pictures or block quotes.
How your final post looks will depend on the WordPress theme you’re using. You can continuously preview using WordPress itself, but that can be a little tedious, especially if you’re working with pictures and trying to get things to line up just right. Instead, download a desktop client to make formatting easy. I use Windows Live Writer (Mac fans, help me out with a comparable version?), which I like because I can sync it with all the blogs I have. As long as you keep it updated, you can use the WYSIWYG editor to add posts and see what they’ll look like on your blog when published. Adding pictures and videos is super easy.
Sometimes, you have to do some major updates that will cause you blog to look crummy for a few hours. Rather than scaring users away, download and install a plugin like Maintenance Mode and your readers will get a simple message that you’re working on your blog at the moment. I like this plugin specifically because you can even choose to include a countdown clock that will tell users when you get back. No coding knowledge necessary!
There are other maintenance mode plugins out there; this is just the one I like to use on my personal blog. Of course, you can also manually point code your site to give users a maintenance message, but who has the time/knowledge/ambition to do that? This makes it super easy!
4. Use Zemanta for Easy Linking
Finding links can take time, but it makes your posts more valuable to readers. For example, in the previous tip, I linked to the plugin page so you could easily find it. Otherwise, you would have probably had to search for it, and there would be no guarantee that you’d find the plugin I was talking about. Zemanta totally takes the hassle out of linking. This plugin gives you a list of potential in-text links you can add, which updates as you type. In addition, it gives you a list of related articles based on your post, which you can update as you type. You just link on their recommendations to add links as you see fit. Super easy! You can even choose to create a profile and tell Zemanta the blogs you like most so it will draw links from those sites when possible.
If you’re working with images, it can sometimes be annoying to remember the max width they can be to fit on your blog. I have a lot of trouble with this one since I blog on multiple sites, all using different themes. If your image is too wide, it will either cut off or overlap onto your sidebar, depending on the them you’re using. Both look pretty bad.
It’s an easy fix. I learned this one from WPHacks. You have to go into the code, but don’t be scared! It’s easy; I promise! Under “appearance” on the left-hand dashboard sidebar, you want to click on editor and find your theme’s .css file (probably the one that comes up by default. Then, just follow the instructions here to add a snippet of code. That’s it! If you can handle copy/pasting, you can do this one. Once you change the max to fit whatever your theme’s max width is, you won’t have to deal with cut off or overlapping pictures ever again.
Recently, we added this plugin here on the BlogWorld blog and it has been a total game-changer for me! I like to stay organized and am a very visual person. The editorial calendar plugin gives me a way to see when posts are being updated, and for a multi-author blog, it allows you to understand when others are planning to publish so you can strategically plan out your content schedule. I also like that you can jot down ideas quickly using the calendar when you have a post idea, and the visual nature makes it easy to see where you’re faltering: Are you uploading too many posts about a specific topic? Are you updating enough? Is your content always bunched instead of spread out? You can also use the calendar to schedule your content easily. Love it.
Depending on your theme, long posts may or may not look good on your homepage. You can use the “more” tag to split the post after a few teaser paragraphs. It’s the little split button beside the link buttons on your tool bar (see picture) or you can just hit Alt+Shift+T.
By default, this will create a link that says “Continue Reading” or “Read More” or something of that sort, depending on the theme you use. Want to change the text? It’s pretty easy. It requires you to go into your code again, but don’t be scared! Under Appearance on your sidebar, click on editor and then find the index.php file (Main Index Template). Search for:
<?php the_content(‘Read more …’); ?>
If your blog by default has different text, the theme editors already changed it, so that’s what you should search for. In other words, if when you split the text and publish the post, it says on your site, “Click here for more…” you should search for:
<?php the_content(‘Click here for more…’); ?>
Search for whatever that text might be. Then, once you find that line in the code, you can change the text to read whatever you want.
It’s a great way to get more page views out of a single long post.
So there you have it, seven of my favorite WordPress hacks for bloggers. Now it’s your turn to tell us your favorite hacks and tips with a comment below!