Posted 11.10.2012

Posted 11.10.2012

WordPress 101

BASED ON WORDPRESS 3.4.2

Darrel and I gave a talk at the Women’s Forum on WordPress and how to set up your own site.

I’m sure there are a lot of women’s ministries out there that want need a web presence, but don’t know where to start. We wanted to show you step by step how that’s done. So, whether you sat in our group in Nashville and need a refresher, or missed our talk and want to know what it was all about, or stumbled upon this post, welcome! If at any point, you run into issues or have a question, please feel free to jump down to the comments at the bottom. I’ll do my best to respond as quickly as possible.


First things first, why WordPress?

Did you know, there are currently more than 57 million WordPress sites?! WordPress is one of the most popular platforms. With everything they offer, the possibilities for your website are limited. It’s no longer just a blogging platform, but is perfect for managing full blown out websites. It’s so easy to customize your site’s look and make it uniquely your own.

NOTE: However, if you want to look at a few other options, check out Tumblr, SquareSpace, and/or Blogger — all great alternatives.

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

Believe it or not, there’s a difference, and it’s not just the URL. WordPress.com is a hosted solution and WordPress.org is open source. What does that even mean? Well, if you go to WordPress.org, you can download all the code yourself. Then, you can put it on your own server, set up your own database, and your own domain name (URL). Pretty cool! The problem, is that puts a lot of the tech responsibility on you. It’s not hard, but I’ve also done it a thousand times. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it can pretty intimidating.

On the other hand, WordPress.com takes care of all of that for you…for free. Granted, there are a few limitations, but as in most things in life, give them a little money and you’ll have access to more features, such as

  • your own, custom domain name or URL (For example, amyhaywood.com instead of amyhaywood.wordpress.com)
  • extra storage space
  • design customizations (like changing fonts)
  • ad free

The other advantage to a WordPress.com and WordPress.org is security. WordPress.com takes care of all of it. Otherwise, you’re responsible for upgrading WordPress’s code when revisions and patches roll out.

Darrel can speak from personal experience in all that. His wife’s blog was running on a .org account. She got hacked a few years ago. Fortunately, Amy-Jo logged in the same time the hacker was in the process of deleting everything. They were able to restore her blog, but again, it could have been prevented if she was on a .com account.

— Hear me say this, though, a .org account is not evil! In fact, this blog is running off a .org WordPress install. It just requires a little more attention.


CREATING AN ACCOUNT

Go to WordPress.com and “Get Started”

Wordpress - Getting Started

You can quickly (and easily) fill out the form provided. At the bottom of the form are two different options. You can either pay $99 for a premium account or for a few less options, have a free account. WordPress is always willing to take your money. So, feel free to sign up for a free account and upgrade later.

Wordpress Setup Screen

You’ll get an email confirming your address. Simply follow the activation link.

Wordpress - Email Confirmation

WordPress will walk you through a few screens to get everything set up. I skipped through the first couple screens because they’re related to content you’re interested in and connecting your other accounts (like Facebook and Twitter). You can always come back to these later.

Wordpress - Getting Started - Page 1
Wordpress - Getting Started - Page 2

Then, WordPress will ask you about your blog. What’s the name of your blog? Tagline? Again, you can always change these after the fact.

Wordpress - Getting Started - Page 3

You’ll need to choose a WordPress theme. The options here are literally endless. There are plenty of free and paid options. –Don’t worry, as I said before, you can always change this later.

Wordpress - Getting Started - Page 4

Last step. WordPress lets you post your first blog post. You can either take the time to write your post here, but personally, I prefer to do this later, once I’m actually in the admin panel for my blog.

Wordpress - Getting Started - Page 5

Done! You now have a WordPress site! Congratulations! It was that easy! Now, let’s talk a little about customizing.

These next screens are designed to make it easy to find content and post it. To me, this is the only confusing part about WordPress.com. You essentially have 2 dashboards. A dashboard for your WordPress account and a dashboard for your actual blog. They look completely different, so that helps a little bit. Your WordPress dashboard manages your WordPress account. This is useful if you have multiple WordPress.com sites, this makes it really easy to access all of them. Your blog dashboard manages just that one blog. We’ll go there now.

If you click on the “My Blog” tab, then, you’ll see the name of the blog you just created.

Wordpress Dashboard

If I click on the name of the blog, it will take me my actual blog. This is what everyone sees.

Congratulations you have a site!

Since we’re logged in, there’s a bar at the top of the page. If you hover over your blog name, a dropdown menu will appear, click on Dashboard.

Wordpress Dashboard Link

You can also get here by clicking on the Dashboard link listed under your blog.

Dashboard Link from Blog Bar

Now, we’re in your site’s backend. So, we’re just going to walk through the left sidebar. I’m only going to cover the most important pieces. But, if you run into an issue that I didn’t address, don’t hesitate to hit me up in the comments.

NOTE: Every WordPress theme is different. Certain features are enabled in some themes and not in others. Mainly, this relates to featured images, menus, and widgets. For the purposes of this post, I’m working with the theme Twenty Ten. It’s actually the default theme that rolls out with WordPress. But, if you get in there and find you need functionality that your theme doesn’t offer, feel free to mix it. Jump down to the section where I talk about changing your site’s theme.

DASHBOARD

This is your site’s backend. Everything that happens on your site is controlled here. Pretty cool.

The first thing and maybe the most important thing to keep in mind is that YOU WON’T BREAK IT. Don’t be afraid to click around. If something messes up, you can ALWAYS change it back.

WordPress has a few help links to get you started, if you’re still a little gun shy. I’m going to go ahead and close this message, though, and start cleaning up my Dashboard to get it to look the way I want it to.

Wordpress Dashboard

In the top, right corner, you’ll see a tab that says Screen Options. If you click on that you can change which boxes appear on your screen. Personally, I like to turn almost everything off. But, the keyword there is personally. I’m the only one that sees this Dashboard. Any customizations I do are there to help me.

Dashboard - No Welcome Message
Wordpress Dashboard - Screen Options

You can also drag the headings on the boxes around to change the order items are displayed.

Each box is pretty self explanatory. They give me a glimpse of what my site looks like overall: how many posts, pages, categories, and comments I have. I can post quick posts in the QuickPress section. I see my stats in the Stats box… you get the idea.


POSTS vs PAGES

Posts are for a blog. There are a bunch of those. This is the section of your site that you’ll constantly update. Pages are used for static content on your site. There’s only one of those. For example, you might have an about page or a contact page. Chances are, you’ll set those up once, maybe update once a year, but that’s it.

Let’s click on the Posts link in the left sidebar.

This page will list out all the posts you’ve written. By default, WordPress starts with 1 post, called “Hello World.” You can click on the post title to edit it or you can click on the Add New link at the top or left sidebar to create a new post.

Wordpress - Add a New Post

I’m going to modify the post WordPress started with because I want to change that post anyway.

POST TITLE

At the top, you have the Post title. “Hello World” I’m going to change that to “Just launched a new blog.”

PERMALINKS

Then, you’ll see a line right under the title that says Permalink.

Permalinks on Posts

What’s that?! Well, it has nothing to do with going to the hair salon. (Cheesy joke, I know. This can be dry, so I at least needed to add in some humor.) A permalink is the permanent link to that page. I usually go with the default, but in this case, it still says “hello-world” at the end because that was the title of my old post. I’m going to change it to just-launched. As you can tell, any spaces you entered are automatically converted to dashes (-). That’s a good thing! You NEVER want spaces in your URLs.

Usually I’ll leave my permalinks set to the default. Part of the reason they exist is to help your reader (and Google) know what the post is about. Think about it. If I send you http://wp.me/p2SX53-1 (the short link) you don’t know what this post is about. But, if I send you http://amyhaywoodtest.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/just-launched/, you can kind of tell by reading the URL, what type of link I’m sending you.

Once a permalink is set, DON’T CHANGE IT. If someone links to your site, but you’ve changed your permalink, the link is going to be broken. It will come back as a missing page. Set it once and leave it.

POST BODY

The main text area is where you’ll spend a bulk of your time, writing. There are buttons there where you can easily format your text, bold, italics, bullets, numbered list, etc.

Wordpress - Body Copy

If you want to add an image, click on the camera / musical note icon and it will launch a window for you to add an image from your computer.

Wordpress - Add an Image Button
Wordpress - Upload Image

Once the file is uploaded, you can add some additional information. When you’re done, simply click the Insert into Post button at the bottom.

Wordpress - Uploaded Arnold

LIKES AND SHARES

Scroll down, you’ll see a box called Likes and Shares. By leaving those boxes checked, it automatically adds share links to the bottom of my post!

Dashboard - Likes and Shares
Wordpress Blog - Likes and Shares

PUBLISH BOX

On the right sidebar, there’s a box called Publish. It contains information about your post’s publish status. If you wanted to leave the post as a draft and come back to it later. Simply, click on the Edit link next to Published. A drop down will appear and you can select Draft and click the OK button. Now, when you save your post, it won’t appear on the site!

Wordpress - Draft

The Visibility line determines whether your post is visible to the public. If I click on the edit link, you’ll see several options appear. I can leave it Public where everyone can see it or I can make it Password Protected or Private. If I choose password protected, it will let me set the password on a per post basis. In the context of women’s ministry… if people share their prayer requests and I want to post them on the blog, but I don’t want them to be available to the public, I can simply make that post as password protected and give my group the password they need.

Wordpress - Password Protected Post Preview

A Private post simply means only I can see it.

CATEGORIES

The categories box let’s use choose which categories this post is assigned to. You can add a category by clicking on the Add New Category link. Type in the category you want and click Add New Category. Done!

You can nest categories by selecting the Parent Category from the dropdown box. So, now that I’ve created an event category, I may want to add a subcategory called young women.

Wordpress Categories
Wordpress - Nesting Categories

TAGS

The tags box allows you to tag a post. You can simply add tags by typing in the text box field and clicking add. If you want to delete a tag you added, just click on the little x that appears next to the tag’s name. If you want to look at your most used tags for a little bit of help, click on the “Choose from the most used tags” link.

Wordpress - Tags

So, what’s the difference between tags and categories? Great question! First of all, the whole point of tags and categories is to make it easy for your reader to find the content they want. So, when you’re thinking about how to tag or categorize something, put your “I’m a reader” hat on. How would you want to find your content? What’s the most intuitive way you could label something?

Then, think of categories as large buckets, tags are more granular. So, if I’m running a recipe site, my category might be soup. But, my tags might be chicken or tomato. In general, you want your post to fall into ONE category, but multiple tags. My recommendation is to think of all the categories you want to use, up front. This kind of helps you when you’re writing anyway, that way you stay on topic. There’s no reason to blog about the Titan’s football game if you’re a recipe blog!

If you want to do a little extra reading on the subject, here’s a great blog post that goes into a little more depth.

OK, so when we’re done. When we’re ready to publish, just click the button in the Publish box. In this case, we’re updating an existing post, so it says Update instead.

Wordpress - Publish Post

MEDIA

The media section includes all the images that we’ve uploaded to our blog. I rarely come here, but it’s a great media library, though, because you see the item, which post it’s attached to, and what date it was uploaded.

Wordpress - Media Library

LINKS

The links section is only useful if you have the links widget installed somewhere on your site. If you do, you could add links for resources or links to a friend’s site. Just like the posts section, you can edit a post by clicking on it. Or, you can create a new link by clicking on the link at the top of the page or in the left sidebar.

Wordpress - Links

COMMENTS

The comments section lets you manage the comments made on your site. You can approve, unapprove, reply, or trash a comment.

Wordpress - Comments

To manage the settings for the comments on your site, you’ll need to jump down to the Settings > Discussion section. There you can control things like:

  • Receive an email when someone comments on your site
  • You must approve all comments before they go live.
  • email addresses that will automatically be listed as spam
  • if a user doesn’t have an avatar (picture), then which avatar you want to display as the default
Wordpress - Settings - Comments

APPEARANCE

THEMES


The cool part about WordPress is you can easily change your site’s appearance with the click of a button. You can change your site as often as you change outfits! But, just remember, you want to build a brand. When someone lands on your site, you want them to recognize it as your site. If you’re constantly changing the look and feel of your site, your reader might get confused. “Did I go to the right place?” So, once you land on a design, stick with it for a little while.

Changing themes is as easy as finding a new one you like and clicking on the activate link.

Wordpress - Changing Themes

WIDGETS

Widgets typically appear in a sidebar or a footer. — You know, when you go to a site and you see Archives, Favorite Links, Most Recent Posts, etc. These are all widgets.

Managing widgets in WordPress is as easy as dragging and dropping what you like (on the left) to where you want it to go (on the right). You can easily change the order by dragging and dropping too.

Wordpress Widgets

USERS

If you want someone else to help you manage your blog, Users is great for you! Just like a lot of the other sections in WordPress, you can edit an existing user by clicking on their name. Or, you can easily add a new user by clicking on the Invite New button at the top or in the left sidebar to invite a new author / user to your blog.

Wordpress - Users

Making a Different Page your Homepage

By default, WordPress makes your blog your homepage. In some cases, you might want a true homepage or your About page to be your homepage. To change this, go to Settings > Reading in the left sidebar. At the top, you’ll see, Front page displays. Change this to A Static Page

Then, select the page you want to use instead as your home page next to the Front page drop down.

Wordpress - New Homepage

Congratulations! You made it to the end!

So how about this novel?! Thanks for sticking with me! As I said in the beginning, this is just a brief (believe it or not) overview of everything that WordPress is capable of.

As I said before, click on things…even if you don’t know what they do. You won’t mess anything up! You can always change it back! And PLEASE ask me if you run into any problems. There’s always Google, but if I can save you a search or two…


  • http:jaydesjourney.com Jayde

    Thank you for taking the time to walk us through this. I’ve been working on moving mine over from blogger tonight. I was able to import it using the Tools => Import option. :o) Now, I’m just working on figuring out a theme I want. It is hard to choose.

    Thanks again!

  • Amy

    @Jayde thanks for commenting! Glad you’ve been able to get everything moved over to WordPress. You’ll have to let me know if you like it. Also, If you have any trouble, I’d be happy to help.

  • http://sdrytdys Narl Gons

    Hey, I just seen that sometimes this page displays a 500 error. I figured that you would be keen to know. Thanks

  • Amy

    Thanks for letting me know! — My server has had quite a few issues over the past couple of weeks. :-/ Hopefully, we’re beyond that now.

    Amy