PLEASE NOTE: The current version of WordPress is 3.0.1. As newer versions are released, certain information provided here may possibly become outdated or irrelevant.
Previously, I covered the differences between WordPress-hosted and self-hosted WordPress platforms as well as some tips on learning your way around the WordPress dashboard. The plan for this WordPress Basics series is to help new WordPress users become familiar with the functionality of the platform while preparing themselves to have a more comfortable and limit-free blogging experience. None of the theme-specific functions will be covered here since each theme is unique in its method of operation.
Now that you know your way around the backend of a WordPress installation, let’s move into publishing content on your live blog site.
Since the last WordPress Basics article was written, WordPress has rolled out not one but two updates to its software application. Version 3.0.1 has a few things previous versions didn’t. I won’t get into all of the differences at this point, but keep in mind that the platform itself is constantly being developed so no matter how thorough an article may be, there will likely be some discrepancies between its information and what you will find in updated WordPress versions. Once you’ve gotten accustomed to the ins and outs of the Dashboard, you’ll want to start trying your luck at publishing relevant content for the potential readers you would like to capture through your writing. Start by clicking the “Add New” link under the Posts section. A screen will appear which will allow you to input the text of your article, including easy formatting options, and select the settings that go along with the piece you are writing.
UNDER PUBLISH YOU WILL FIND:
- Status: You have the option of saving your article as a draft or submitting it for review.
- Visibility: You may choose to make your article viewable by the public, viewable by only those who have the assigned password (which you may uniquely assign to each post of this sort), or make it entirely private.
- If you would like to schedule your article to be published at a later date or backdate your article, simply click the “Edit” link to modify the default publish option which initially assumes each article will be posted immediately.
TAGS AND CATEGORIES: What’s the big deal?
The difference between a category and a tag is much the same as the difference between the genre of a music (Hip Hop, Gospel, Country, R&B, etc) and descriptive words that apply to each individual song (slow song, dance song, written by Sade, composed in 2004, etc). On the right-hand side of this screen, you will select the category (or categories) your article fits into and also assign tags to it. A post generally fits into one of several broad categories (it’s best to assign no more than 1-2 categories to each article) but can have endless tags associated with it. For instance, if I had a blog about music and I was writing about the song Love All Over Me by Monica, I would put it into one category: R&B; however, I would associate several tags with it: love song, slow song, written by Monica, etc.
The reason for this is simple — I want broad categories so that I only have a few “sections” so my readers can browse through a large collection of articles to find their personal interests, but I will also create tags which allow my readers to define more specific filters when they have a better idea of what they are looking for and don’t want to browse through unnecessary content to find it — tags allow them to access ONLY songs written by one artist or ONLY songs written in one particular year. In short, categories are like filing cabinet drawers while tags are like the file folders within them. Looking into a filing cabinet drawer (category), you are able to view a broad range of files in a certain organized group (such as A-G, H-P, and Q-Z), but the file folders (tags) help you filter the data within the drawer in order to find information specifically pertinent to what you’re looking for.
TIP: Manage your categories and tags by clicking on the corresponding link under the “Posts” section of your control panel on the left side of the WordPress Dashboard. From there, you are able to add, remove, and modify all of your categories and post tags. You will be able to create subcategories and enter category descriptions from that area as well.
SPRUCING UP THE APPEARANCE OF YOUR ARTICLE: Making an impact!
Sometimes, text doesn’t express the exact message you’re trying to convey. Quite often, you find a video or an image that visually supports the meaning of your written article. Including those adds context and ensures that the point you’re attempting to make resonates with your readers. At the top of the text input area, you will see the words “Upload/Insert” followed by four icons. The first, when clicked, allows you to either upload new photos from your computer, add them from another website, or select existing ones from your media gallery. The second handles video media; the third, audio media, and the fourth is there for any other media type such as a Word, Excel, pdf, or other type of document you wish to attach and link within your article. You may also use the Media section in the control panel on the left hand side of the screen to access or add media to your library. Once media is added, you can easily include it in any future post made on your blog.
TIP: In order to directly manipulate the format of your post, modify the inclusion code for a media type, or change the size of a photo or video you are displaying, click on the “HTML” tab at the upper right corner of the text input area. You may view changes prior to publishing by clicking on the Preview button inside the Publish box at the top of the right hand column.
After you have your article structured, simply click the “Publish” button to share it with the world wide web. Congratulations! You just published your first WordPress blog post! If you have any questions about anything you read in this article, submit them via the contact form and label it a “General Inquiry” — I will email you directly to answer them!