Tag Archives: WordPress blog how-to

Creating your author blog part 2 #amwriting

As last week’s post, Creating your author blog part 1, much of this is taken from earlier posts on this subject, so if you have seen it before, thank you for stopping by, and the next post will be on sourcing content for our blog posts.


Once you have your blog set up, and the catchy title picked out, etc., it’s time to start writing. Both WordPress and Blogger offer you the ability to use html (Text) if you choose, which I don’t have a clue about, or to go with the Visual (what you see is what you get). Unless you are a programmer, stay with ‘Visual.

In WordPress, choose a category now for your post–do it first, so you don’t forget to do it. I published this post in the category of writing.  Each blog post may have a different category, but you decide what your categories are. If you should forget to choose the category, it will go into the ‘uncategorized’ pile–the dreaded WordPress slush-pile where blogs go to die.

Also in WordPress, chose a few TAGS now, if you know what you’re writing about, so that you don’t forget to tag the post. That button is below the Categories list. Chose tags that most represent the core of your post, so that searchers for that subject will find your post.

For this post, I am using ‘blogger, blogspot, blogging, WordPress, WordPress blog how-to.’

If you are using Blogger, PICK YOUR LABELS NOW–Blogger doesn’t use categories, so your labels are very important. On the right-hand side, click on ‘LABELS’ and simply type your key words into the BOX, separated by commas. In Blogger, LABELS are what TAGS are in WordPress, so use words that represent the core of what you are blogging about so that interested searcher will find your blog.

Next, schedule your post: In WordPress, in the the right-hand menu-list you will open the the ‘status bar.’ Use the calendar to pick the date and set the time of day you want the post to go live.

Here is the screenshot that shows you where everything is in WordPress:

Wordpress_how2blog_screenshot2018

And for Blogger it looks like this:

blogger_details_screenshot

Now that you have that out-of-the-way, it’s time to blog!

  1. Hook me with that catchy blog post title! Pretend this post is called “Blogging for beginners.” Pretty boring, but hey – it is what it is.
  2. Put that title in the white box at the top of the page and DO IT NOW, so you don’t forget to give your post a title.

Now there are two paths for you. You can choose to wing it, keying directly into the post box as I sometimes do, or you can write it on a WORD document, edit it at your leisure, and copy and paste it into the body of the post. (In WordPress, depending on the platform’s mood, you may have to key “cntrl V” to paste it into the post box.)

Both Blogger and WordPress have spell check functions, and both will save at times as you go. However, spell check only picks up misspelled worlds, and doesn’t catch errors that involve correct spelling. When I key directly into the post box, some errors may get overlooked in the proofing process. I do try to correct them but I sometimes don’t notice them for several months, so blogging can be a lesson in learning to laugh at yourself.

Now we want to add a picture. In WordPress, place your cursor in the body of the blog post and click once at the spot where you will want the image. Then scroll up to the left side of the ribbon (tool box) and click on the circle with a + sign in it, where it says ‘Add’ (when you hover your mouse over it, it will say ‘insert image.’ This symbol is a little obscure, but once you find it, you are good to go.

If this is your first blog post, you won’t have anything in your media library yet, so click on “Upload Files.” Practice uploading images and inserting them, playing with it until you feel comfortable and know how to ensure the image will appear where you want it and will be the size you want it to be. Then, once the image in the body of the post you click on the picture, and a new toolbox opens. That is where you make your adjustments for positioning and size. You can even add captions if you wish.

In Blogger you also click on the little picture in the ribbon (when you hover your mouse over it, it will say ‘insert image’). A pop-up menu will appear, and then you will upload the image, decide the placement and the size.  This nearly foolproof simplicity is why most people who have “never done this before” like Blogger more than WordPress.

All you have to do now is post your links to Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler and all other social media you can think of. It is quite easy to set up, and you rarely need to refresh those connections.

This is where WordPress really excels.

In WordPress, we have the “publicize” option which will automatically post to our other social sites. In the Settings menu, open “sharing” and click on it. that will take you to the “Sharing Settings” page. Click on the button that says, “Publicize Settings.” That will open a list of what I think of as blog warehouses, places that collect blogs and offer them to their regular readers. You want to activate as many of them as you can.

It will take a long time for you to build up good traffic – when I began in 2011 I averaged 4 to 10 visits a day. I see those months as my training months, a time when I was able to get a feel for this craft. I have a lot more readers now because I have gained many good friends here through WordPress and am diligent about keeping this blog updated.

I highly recommend blogging if you are serious about being an author, as it helps develops your writing craft, especially when you must go in and edit out your mistakes after they have posted. People expect blogs to be a little rougher than other work as it is usually written on the wing but try to do your best work—you want people to buy your books, and they won’t if your blog posts seem illiterate.

As I mentioned above, my next post will discuss the nuts and bolts of sourcing content and writing the posts, including little tricks I use for catching most typos and misspelled words before my work posts.

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Filed under blogging, writing

#Amblogging: WordPress: If it ain’t broke, we’ll fix that

OuroborosI’ve been blogging for about five years now. I turn out three posts a week, mostly on the craft of writing but sometimes on other aspects of my life. As a courtesy, I always link back to quoted authors’ websites and also insert links to other good reference posts elsewhere on the internet.

However, the once simple task of “inserting a link” has lately become quite difficult. Some days I don’t feel like I have the patience to blog anymore, and that lack of enthusiasm is all thanks to the folks at WordPress, where the new motto is “If it ain’t broke, we’ll fix that.”

A few months ago, the fine people at WP decided that those of us who prefer to blog using the old, more functional dashboard could simply screw ourselves, and they attempted to force us to use the “improved posting experience” which is anything but an improvement.

WPBlues2_prnt_scrn_3However, those of us who are determined to use the better dashboard can still get to it by:

  1. Opening the “My Sites” menu (top left of screen)
  2. When the menu drops down, look for the words “WP Admin” and click on it (don’t click on “Posts” yet)
  3. Once the second, new menu opens, THEN Scroll down to “Posts” and click “add new”

That takes you to the standard dashboard with all the functionality we are used to, with the buttons and other information we may use in the right places. The old dashboard is easier to use for those of us with impaired vision, as (for me) the pale blue on white of the new one blends together to become a wall of white.

Oh, we still have to look at the constant demand to “switch to the improved posting experience” but we can ignore that: We just go ahead and enter our blog post title as if that little bit of subtle bullying on WP’s part was not there. (Thanks, WordPress, for not giving us the option to turn that exceedingly untruthful notice off.)

I thought that would be the end of the misery for a while, but no! Here I am again, posting the workaround for yet another UN-improvement by the developers at WordPress, who are completely out of touch with the needs of real-world bloggers.

WPBlues2_prnt_scrn_4I’m not sure why they felt compelled to break the usefulness of this platform even further, but they did. As of last week when they changed the uploader box for inserting links into my content, I am finding their product is once again, incredibly difficult to use.

Normally, I key my posts into a WORD document and then copy and paste them into the body of the post. I insert my links into the document, and then edit them to make sure they open in a new window once the post is loaded here.  I also often have to do a lot of other editing once the post is loaded here.

However, the minute you have to insert or edit a link in the body of your post, things become sticky.

Let’s say I want to insert a link to Dictionary.com for the word “DYSFUNCTIONAL

  1. I open a new page and google “dysfunctional”
  2. I click on the webpage and open it.
  3. I highlight the page address in my browser and right-click copy
  4. I return to the open page for my WordPress post and highlight the word “dysfunctional”
  5. I place my cursor on the little chain icon in the task bar at the top of my post and left-click on it to open the insert link box
  6. When the box opens, don’t think you can just paste it into the box, and click on the blue arrow–because the link will go away.WPBlues2_prnt_scrn_5
  7. Instead paste the copied website address into the URL box, click on the  little gear,
  8. A new menu will open and you will click on the “add link” button in the lower right hand corner of the larger box.
  9. Be aware that when you click the box that says “open in new window,” the link will sometimes vanish. Then you get to play this game all over again.

The other wonderful new advantage of this less-than-useful link insertion system is that the annoying “Paste URL or type to search” box often won’t go away once you have successfully pasted the link.  This means you can’t key or change any words hidden by the box.

But as for everything else WordPress, there is a work-around for that, and Grandma will find it:

  1. Simply place the cursor elsewhere in the body of the blog post,(pick a random word and don’t highlight it) and
  2. click on the “insert link” icon again. This time don’t insert anything.
  3. With the cursor still on the body of the post, simply left click on an un-highlighted area and the box will finally go away, and you can once again write your post.
  4. Sometimes the only way to get the insert/edit link box to go away is to scroll back up to the right-hand “publish” menu and either click “save draft” or, if your post is already scheduled or live, click “update.”
  5. This is a problem even when I have inserted the links in my post in a WORD document before copying and pasting, as I still have to make sure they open in a new window.

I would like to not be blogging about WordPress workarounds. I would like for the nice people at WordPress to address the shortcomings of this new system and reconnect with their users.

I would also like to be able to recommend WordPress to new bloggers.

As Hal 9000 once said, “I’m sorry, Dave. I can’t do that.”

Ouroboros definition

The other issue is that these problems are random. Sometimes this thing works as it was designed, and then the next time you need to insert a link, it fails.

If you go out and check the forums for this issue, you will see that the stock, canned answer by the forum mod is always: Have you tried deactivating your plugins?

On this particular blog, I am NOT running any plugins, nor have I ever ran any. Thus, that particular canned answer does not cut it, and there doesn’t seem to be any other answer out there.

WordPress developers and tech support need to rely less on the Ouroboros model of customer satisfaction and become connected with the users. There is a real disconnect between what the powers-that-be at WordPress want to give us, and what we long-time users need to have available. I have no problem embracing change.

I have embraced it and found the workarounds I need to make my site work for me.

What I have a problem embracing is dysfunctionality.

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Filed under blogging, WordPress, writing

#amblogging: WordPress Blues

wordpress logoWordPress people…you have pissed me off.

For a year now you have been trying to shove this new, less-than-useful dashboard down my throat, and for that same year, I have refused to use it. You allowed me the option to stay with the expanded version that played to my needs, and so I didn’t complain.

Today, however, you  cut off my simple access to the old, better-for-my-purposes dashboard, and forced me to hunt for a way to get back to it. So rather than the post I had intended, we are going to discuss how a determined blogger can get around your arbitrary decision.

I do not post my blogs from a cell phone. For those people who do, I am sure the bland wall of white fog that is the new default dashboard is fine, but for me it is NOT USEFUL.

First of all, the writing is pale blue and gray.

I have poor eyesight. This is a large world, so I am sure I am not the only blogger out there with compromised vision.

For me, pale blue on white becomes a vast expanse of bluish white, against which I have to strain my eyes to see what few buttons a blogger is allowed the use of.

WordPress new format screenshot empty post

 

Oh, sure, I posted a while back on how to use  this crappy new dashboard, and I CAN use it. See my post Blogging is Writing Too.

But just so you know, WordPress people, forcibly limiting my options is making me reconsider my loyalty to you.

However, being the stubborn old lady that I am, I have found a way to get back to the old dashboard. You have to know how WordPress works in the first place to find it, but I am tenacious.

In the upper lefthand corner of the new default dashboard are the words “My Stats.”

Click on this, and it will take you to the stats page.

Stats page 01-15-2016

On the left side of the page is a menu, and at the bottom of that menu is the button for “WP Admin.”

As this is my blog, I am that person and when I click on it, it takes me to this page:

Admin Dashboard 01-15-2016

This is the Admin Dashboard. You will note that in the center of the lefthand menu is the word “Posts.

Click on that and you will find yourself able to access all the options you are used to having at your command.

Admin Dashboard with post 01-15-2016

I actually use my dashboard like a professional blogger. But I am also an old lady and when I am thwarted, I get angry.

When I am angry, I blog about it.

WordPress people–I’m sure you have a good reason for limiting a blogger’s ability to access all the tools they may need. However, and I am just guessing here, I suspect that the majority of bloggers are not posting blogs from their cell phones.

People at WordPress:  I suspect that the majority of your bloggers are sitting in front of a PC or laptop.

This blogpost is for all of those people.

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Filed under blogging, writing

#amwriting: Blogging is writing too

People wonder why I go to the trouble of blogging regularly. As an indie author, there is no better way for me to let the world know I am here. When a prospective reader googles my name, this blog is the first thing that comes up. WordPress’s stats tell us that over 409 million people view more than 20.3 billion pages each month.

That, my friends, is a LOT of potential readers, and every time I post a blog, I tap into that pool of readers.

So how do you go about getting a piece of that pie for yourself?

‘Life in the Realm of Fantasy’ is a WordPress blog, i.e. I use WordPress because it is a free, open-source blogging tool and content management system.  I also have several other blogs on Blogger (Blogspot), also a free, open-source blogging tool and content management system. I prefer Blogger for ease of use, but I love the way WordPress looks when you get to the finished product stage.

There is a small learning curve for each. But with very few skills, I have a decent-looking blog at no cost to me, using the fine tools and templates provided by the wonderful people at WordPress or Blogspot–and you can too. What you need to know is quite simple, and I’ll provide you with steps and screenshots below.

The thing that is so awesome about both these products is you have the option to use them in what my husband-the-programmer calls ‘wysiwyg’ (pronounced wizzy-wig) or ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get.’ The user does not have to know any programming or coding–all that is done for you already, and you just organize it the way you want it, within certain limitations.

  1. If you want to use WordPress visit the WordPress home page and select the ‘Sign Up’ button to register for a WordPress account. You’ll need a valid email address (that has not been used to create another WordPress account) to sign up for a new WordPress account. Follow the steps and bam! You have a blog.
  2. But you can also do this via Blogger (blogspot), Google’s free blogging tool and content management system, also an extremely simple process.
  3. I suggest you use your author name. I used Connie J. Jasperson:  https://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com. This links your author name to your blog, which is why you are doing this in the first place. Pick a title for your blog–this one is Life in the Realm of Fantasy.
  4. Once you have your blog set up, and the catchy name picked out, etc it’s time to start writing. Both offer you ability to use html (Text) if you choose, which I don’t have a clue about, or to go with the Visual (what you see is what you get). Unless you are a programmer, stay with ‘Visual.’
  5. In WordPress, choose a category now for your post–do it first so you don’t forget to do it. I published this post in the categories of Blogging, Self Publishing, Writing.  Each blog post may have a different category, but you decide what your categories are. If you should forget to choose the category, it will go into the ‘uncategorized’ pile–the dreaded WordPress slush-pile where blogs go to die.
  6. Also in WordPress, chose a few TAGS now, if you know what you’re writing about, so that you don’t forget to tag the post.That button is below the Categories list. Chose tags that most represent the core of your post, so that searcher for that subject will find it. For this post I am using ‘blogger, blogspot, blogging, how to use blogger, humor, self-publishing, WordPress, WordPress blog how-to.’
image © cjjasp 2015

image © cjjasp 2015

  1. If you are using Blogger, PICK YOUR LABELS NOW–Blogger doesn’t use categories, so your labels are very important. On the right hand side, click on ‘LABELS’ and simply type your key words into the BOX, separated by commas. In Blogger, LABELS are what TAGS are in WordPress, so use words that represent the core of what you are blogging about so that interested searcher will find your blog:

Blogger screen shot

Now that you have that out-of-the-way, it’s time to blog!

  1. Hook me with that catchy blog post title!  Today’s post is called “Blogging is writing too.” Pretty boring.
  2. Put that catchy title in the White box at the top of the page, and DO IT NOW so you don’t forget to give your post a title.

Now there are two paths for you.   You can wing it, keying directly into the post box as I sometimes do, or you can write it on a WORD document and copy and paste it into the body of the post. I have to do that for these posts, but don’t like to because word is rife with HINKY FORMATTING. Sometimes that screws up your blog posts for both Blogger and WordPress, and then you have to use the handy “REMOVE FORMATTING” button that is located in the ribbon (tool box) of both Blogger and WordPress:

WordPress new format screenshot remove formatting tool

Both Blogger and WordPress have spell check functions, and both will save at times as you go, but spell check only picks up misspelled worlds, not other errors.

Now we want to add a picture. In WordPress, place your cursor in the body of the blog post and click once at the spot where you will want the image. Then scroll up to the left side of the ribbon (tool box) and click on the little picture in the ribbon (when you hover your mouse over it, it will say ‘insert image’ This menu will appear:

WordPress new format screenshot insert images

 

WordPress new format screenshot insert images 2

If this is your first blog post, you won’t have anything in your media library yet, so click on “Upload Files.” Practice uploading images and inserting them, playing with it until you feel comfortable and know how to ensure the image will appear where you want it, and will be the size you want it to be. Then, once the image in the body of the post you click on the picture, and a new toolbox opens up. That is where you make your adjustments for positioning and size. You can even add captions:

WordPress new format screenshot insert images 3

In Blogger you also click on the little picture in the ribbon (when you hover your mouse over it, it will say ‘insert image’). A pop-up menu will appear, and then you will upload the image, decide the placement and the size.  This nearly foolproof simplicity is why most people who have “never done this before” like Blogger more than WordPress.

Blogger screen shot 2

All you have to do now is post your links to Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler and all other  social media you can think of. It is quite easy to set up, and you rarely have to refresh those connections. This is where WordPress really excels:

WordPress new format screenshot sharing

Voilà! You are a blogger. It will take a long time for you to build up good traffic. Posting regularly and frequently gets you more visits and likes, which raises your visibility. This is your opportunity to write a 300 to 1000 word riff on whatever you are doing or thinking about. In my case, it is writing, and all aspects of book culture.

I highly recommend blogging if you are serious about being a author, as it helps develops your writing craft, especially when you have to go in and edit out your mistakes (use the preview option). People expect blogs to be a little rougher than other work as it is usually written on the wing, but try to do your best work—you want people to buy your books, and they won’t if your blogposts seem illiterate.

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Filed under Blogger, blogging, writing