Tag Archives: Wordpress

Beginning Blogging – Customizing your theme

This series has prompted me to re-look at my own blog through critical eyes this week. I am sure that you haven’t noticed but I changed my tag line. When I first started this blog, like many I wasn;t sure exactly what I was going to write about so gave myself a very wide brief. Something along the lines of:

Knitting, crochet, running and family life…

Most of this is still true but I very rarely talk about my family …. and I wanted something a bit more catchy. So I headed to my dashboard, went to SETTINGS – GENERAL and then changed my tag line.

I also had a look at the about me information. This had a bit of a spruce up too:  DASHBOARD – USERS – MY PROFILE. I read this week that even if your blog is about a business your about should contain a bit about you or the story behind the business at least.

I then started to look at the HUGE variety of themes on offer. I spent a long time looking…and couldn’t decide on anything new…. maybe I should just think about changing the colour a bit??

I then had a lovely tweet from SuziGuy.  I asked her if there was anything that she wanted to know in particular. Her answer was ….how to change the background. Perfect so here we go:

Changing the background on your blog:

DASHBOARD – APPEARANCE – BACKGROUND

This is the first place I went and found out something new yet again. You can customize your background by uploading your own photograph. This, at first seems like an awesome thing to be able to do, although when you think about it again it is littered with possible catches. For example: most photographs have the subject in the centre. This will not be seen due to the blog posts! Also – anything too busy and it will be a distraction from your blog content. If you are braver than me and have a go at this do please put a link below so that I can see 🙂

For the rest of you, you need to go to: DASHBOARD – APPEARANCE – CUSTOMIZE

This takes you to a page on your blog (how everyone else sees it) with a menu opening up down the right hand side. I shall take you through these:

SNAPSHOTS – ignore unless you want to pay.

COLOURS – allows you to change the colour of the background as well as the colour of your Heading. Simply click on the box you want and select the colour. Do not worry about changing it for good – if you don’t click on save it will simply revert back to the original version  when cancel is pressed.

HEADING: behind my header there is a picture based on my Gravatar. This allows me to remove it. If you wish to add one you go to APPEARANCE – HEADER

BG IMAGE: This allows you to add a background image. (As discussed above).

FRONT – this allows you to have your latest post as the front page or to have a static page at the front which remains the same each time someone visits.

CUSTOM DESIGN – I think this costs so haven’t explored too much (too tight!)

SITE TITLE – Allows you to change the title and the tag line.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I went through the customize menu for my theme when researching this post. It is my understanding that some themes are more customizable than others thus your menu may differ to mine.

As always I hope this is useful, please ask if you have any questions…..

Happy Blogging 🙂

 

Beginning Blogging – adding photographs

Last week I learnt that WordPress have updated their Learn.Wordpress site. So my big question to you all is:

Should I carry on with this series or shall I just link you all to this site?

Initially I thought that this was it – I had done all I needed to do, however I am not so sure:

1. I have learnt a lot from this myself, (did you see my last post with a rainbow of headings?)

2. I think that it may actually be worth while having someone go though installment at a time. It gives you time to work though each thing before starting on another.

These are just my thoughts. Please let me know what you think – I do not wish to flog a dead horse!

So for today I shall keep it very short:

How to add pictures and photos to a post

Now this is a very important skill. It breaks up the  text making it easier to read and also adds interest, catching people’s eye. Looking pretty is important 🙂

If your blog is about things that you have seen, done, made etc then the best way to add pictures is through the addition of photographs. If you have photographs on file on your computer all you have to do is to go to the add media button at the top of your ADD NEW POST page. When you click on this you go to a new window. Click on the UPLOAD FILES which is again towards the top.

You now go the middle and click on UPLOAD FILES. Choose your picture you want to use, double-click and then wait until it uploads.

Once it has uploaded you will be able to fill in a title, a caption, tags (important as they help search engines find you) and a description. (Description is important because if the photo doesn’t load it will give your description instead.) You can also align your photo – left, centre or right.

And there you have it! You can copy and paste into your post but beware of copyright. Down the bottom right of your page when writing a post you will find a group of photographs as below.

There is a search box here too. This will give you some suggestions for pictures that you can use that are free from copyright. In my experience you cannot often find what you are looking for unless it is very common. It is quite useful still however and I do use it from time to time.

So there you go. Not only will you be writing great posts – they will look pretty and eye-catching too.

Do please let me know if you wish to continue with this series or not. To help you with this decision here is the link to the Learn.WordPress site:

http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/learn-wordpress/

I have added an extra box to encourage you to have your say and leave feedback. Please be honest 🙂

Beginning Blogging – Writing a Post

I do believe that we are now all ready to actually write some content onto our blog (otherwise known as a post). There are several ways to do this:

1) When you log into WordPress you may see something like this.

The blue ‘menu’ bar along the top gives you a variety of options:

READER: shows you the latest posts from the blogs you follow or allows you to search the blogs according to your choice of categories or key words.

STATS: Will take you to a page that will give you all sorts of information about your blog, how many people have visited, from what country, how they found you etc.

MY BLOGS: Gives you an overview of your blog along with some quick links.

FRESHLY PRESSED: Gives you a selection of blogs that have been chosen by the ‘powers that be at WordPress’ giving you a selection of the best current blog posts.

Over to the right you will see a pen and the words NEW POST. I hope that I do not need an explanation to this?

If you click on this you will get taken to a page looking like this:

I refer to this as the quick posting page. It gives you the choice of format you wish to use. This is useful as it shows you that a post does not have to be long and complicated, a simple photo or quote is enough. I will not go through each option as I think that they are fairly self-explanatory.
2) The way I usually go to get to the correct page in order to write a post is by going back to this page:
Click on the posts link and you will be taken to a page like this (from your Dashboard)

Down the left hand side , under POSTS you will see ADD NEW. Click on this and you will go to a page like this:

This is also the page you go to using the quick post method from above.
You will see that this page is a bit like word.  At the top, just under the words ADD NEW POST you can see a blank box. This where you type your title. The large blank bit is where you write your text. See, simple :). If you are familiar with word you will recognise the images for bold, italic and crossed out writing. You can either type, highlight and click on the symbol or click on the symbol before typing. Next there are the options for bullet points and quotes. Following this comes the text orientation
Left                                                              central                                                                               right
This can also be used for pictures. Highlight the picture and then click on the orientation button required. I usually use the central one.
The symbols that are not easy to see are the link and break link buttons. These are very useful. They can be used to link back to posts that you have made and other sites on the web. All that you need to do this is the web address of the page you wish to use. If, you wish to create a link to a previous post such as the one I wrote last week on widgets. Simply highlight the word (or picture) you wish to use for the link, go up and click on the link symbol. This will bring you a window like this:
All you need to do is paste the web address into the URL box. (I often have several tabs open so I can easily move between several pages). This is all you need to do although you can add a title. Simply click the add link box and the word you highlighted will become underlined like this. If you then click on it you will be taken to the new page. Should you make a mistake then all you need to do is re-highlight and then click on the broken link symbol.
The abc tick is spell checker.
The next few symbols I have managed to not use up until now as I had never really explored them. Oh I do wish I had!!! The box with the arrows in is DISTRACTION FREE WRITING MODE. Quite simply this gets rid of all the bits around the side (including the top menu) and allows you to type your post as it will appear on your blog. A really useful tool especially if you are juggling photos around etc. If you do need the basic tools all you need to do is move the cursor up the page.
This ….
……..instead of this:

The final symbol (again something I had not used) is the KITCHEN SINK  show/hide symbol. This gives you more options such as text colour, layout, underlining. The rest of the tools you would expect from word really (and I had been wondering why they weren’t included. DUH. I am so glad I am writing this series! Thank you 🙂

The bottom row is the kitchen sink row.

Again I have twittered on long enough. Next time we will look at adding photographs, a very important part of blogging and also tags and the other bits around the page. (For now you can copy and paste pictures for ease if you wish.)

Finally please, please do not make the same mistake that I do – SAVE, SAVE, SAVE. You can save it as a draft and come back to it later, even another day so there is no pressure to publish it at all. Wait until you are ready.

Have a good week and do please leave any links to posts that you write below so I can have a look (I will leave a comment, I promise 🙂 )

 

Beginning Blogging – Choosing a theme

Themes:

As stated last week, the next important decision to be made is what theme will you use? I say this is important and it is but it can be changed at a later date. There, does that take a bit of the stress away? I hope so because this next fact may just bring it right back again. There are over 1,000 themes on WordPress, 1,690 to be precise although this figure will change as they keep on bringing new ones out all the time.

Now, before you shut down in disgust we can make it a bit easier for you. To start with, some of the themes are categorized as premium and you have to pay extra for these. At this stage I am assuming that this is not an option for you. The next thing, and to be honest the one that I used, is your gut. As you scroll down the page looking at all the different designs I can almost guarantee that you will be drawn to some. This may be due to the colour, the style or the pictures.

Current theme preview

This is the theme that I used: Shaan. The main reason I chose this is due to the colour. I like it. Simple. Yes I like the photograph but this photo is not on my site, my own photographs are. In fact when I look at this my blog is actually quite different to this. The recognisable bit is the colour. This is because you may be looking at the theme demo but that is all it is, a demo. You will be able to make it your own as you go on through the choices that you make. (More on this later).

When I was looking through all the themes with a friend I found myself saying things like You need to think about your content.

This is because some themes will lend themselves better to some content than others. For example:

This Hatch design is suited to a heavily visual site with lots of photographs.

Whereas this DePo Masthead theme is a magazine style with several columns appearing at the same time.

I knew that I wanted some photographs mixed in with text. I didn’t want multiple columns and I liked a bit of colour. In fact it is probably easier to draw up a list of the features that you don’t like than the ones you do. I knew from having looked at other blogs that I needed 2 columns, one for the content and one for the bits down the side e.g. Twitter, Facebook links etc.

So, in summary, we have identified four strategies to help you choose your theme:

1) Going with your gut feeling

2) Thinking a little bit about what the content of your blog will be and what the best layout would be.

3) Thinking about what features you have liked on other blogs.

4) Identifying the things you don’t like as you go through the themes.

These 4 will narrow your choices down a fair bit I promise.

When thinking about steps three and four from above it may be worth jotting these down as they will come in useful as we move through this process later on.

As you look down the list of themes there are three words underneath each image:

Activate – click this when you decide you would like to choose a theme.

Live Preview: This will show you what it looks like on a full-page.

Details: This will give a brief overview of the features of a theme.

If I click on live preview I get my page in the style of the new theme so this feature even better when you are already up and blogging.

This brings me to the next bit What if I want to look at themes later or change them?

To do this go to your dashboard. This will bring up a menu down the left hand side. Click on  Appearance (towards the bottom) and then you will find Themes. Click on that and it will bring up the screen where you can search through the themes.

Once you have settled on a theme you are happy with (for a while at least), you can go back to the Appearance menu button, and explore some of the options down there. On mine for example, if I click on background I can change the colour. The Custom menu will be where you can upgrade your site by paying for different fonts etc.

Next week we shall look at the header option (which will tie into the Gravatar which I said I would cover this week but feel I have waffled on enough) and also look at some of the widgets you can use.

As always, any questions then do please ask me. I would also love to know what themes people use and why. I think that it may be time to have a bit of a change of mine!

Blogging for beginners

I apologise to many of you now – these posts are not at all useful to those of you with blogs already. I do, however, know that there are several people who read my blog and would like to start one themselves but are not that sure where to start. So I thought that I would share some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the last year (nearly).

There are a few things that I wish to make clear from the start:

1. I am no expert so I may not get everything right or have all the answers.

2. I only know how to use wordpress although there are other platforms to use (such as blogger).

Over the next few weeks I thought that I would share tips that I have picked up (mostly from other people), try to explain terms such as widgets as well as some basic know – hows. If anyone reading this has any questions then please do ask.

This brings me to my first ‘lesson’.

Commenting on blogs such as this:

At the end of most blog posts you will find a comments box looking something like this:

The labels you cannot read beside the smaller boxes are:  name (required), email (will not be published) (requires), website (optional). Firstly, to put your  mind at rest your email will not appear anywhere publicly. Secondly, although you have to put something in the name box it does not have to be your name if you do not wish to share it (although I am not totally sure I should be writing this!) It just has to be something that is recognisable as a name so it does not get mistaken as spam (unwanted comments by machines). As an example I usually comment as knitnrun4sanity although sometimes just knitnrun. Other people just use their first name. The website box does not have to be filled in at all.

So there you go – you can now ask questions and not worry about any unwanted consequences.

Sometimes you may get this instead:

This allows you log in via an existing WordPress, Twitter or Facebook account. If you wish to do this you can just click on the icon corresponding to the account you wish to use, type your comment and click on post comment box. Your identity on the platform you have chosen to use is the one that will be shown.

Naming Your Blog

The last thing I am going to write about today is your name. When I started blogging I was very nervous about  exposure online. As I know that I am not totally unusual in this – let me tell you that it is possible to have a complete presence online without ever having to disclose your real identity.  The first thing you need to do is to choose a name you like.  I came to my name because I knew that I was going to write about knitting, crochet and running on my blog. I tried to combine the words knitting and crochet but didn’t like what I came up with. I then hit upon knitnrun but found (though Google) that this already existed hence I then added the 4 sanity. (It is also very true!)

When creating a WordPress.com account (free I promise) you are asked for an e-mail. In order to keep my online identity cohesive I set up an e-mail account: knitnrun4sanity@…….. This meant that there is no link to my personal e-mail which involves my name. I also like that this side of my life is kept separate  from school e-mails etc. As well as using my chosen name on my blog I was also keen to use it for a Facebook page and Twitter account. It all links together nicely making it easier to be found.

So to summarise:

When thinking of a name – 1) think about what you will be writing about (it doesn’t have to be linked but is definitely a good starting point).

2) Check to see if the name is already in use through Google, Facebook, Twitter etc.

3) If you wish to keep your real identity a secret then consider opening an e-mail account under your chosen name.

4) It may also be a good idea to set up a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr account under the same name at the same time. It depends what you think you will use but it saves your name being taken by someone else in the meantime. You do not have to do anything with them to start with.

Next time I shall be talking about choosing themes and Gravatar’s. Hopefully a similar time next week. If you have any questions or subjects you would covered then do please let me know 🙂