15 WordPress.com Tips for Newbies (Updated)

[Re-posting the following with some updates.]

The following are a few tips for WordPress.com newbies that I had to find by trial and error:

  1. The Reader
  2. Tags
  3. Categories
  4. Blocking Sites in the Reader
  5. Comment Signatures
  6. Administrator Panel
  7. Threaded (Nested) Comments
  8. Comment Moderation
  9. Manage the Blogs You Follow
  10. Blogroll and Links
  11. Shortlink
  12. Continue Reading
  13. Emoji
  14. How to Add an Image to a Comment
  15. Email Notifications Management

1. THE READER

The Reader is a fantastic way to find and follow great Blogs and to be found by potential followers and readers. Some overlook this function.

If you include Tags in your post, your post will be displayed in the Reader.  When you first click on the Reader, it defaults to your “Followed Sites,” which displays a chronological listing of posts by the Blogs you follow. You can further filter these posts by Tags (discussed below).

If you want to discover new Blogs, click on “Discover” and filter the results by Tags (see below). If you don’t filter the Discover feed, you will see a select group of Blogs. If you filter the Discover feed by Tags, you will see all posts using that Tag (not limited to Blogs you follow) in chronological order.

You can also click on “Recommendations” and find Blogs similar to the ones you have followed or liked.

reader 2


2. TAGS

Tags are very important for many reasons, including for search engines. But one of the biggest benefits is they make your content more visible to potential followers and readers within the WordPress world.

In the WordPress Reader, you can filter content by tags. So, if I select “Discover” and the “Christianity” tag, the Reader content will be filtered to all posts having that tag. You can filter the “Followed Sites” feed the same way. I rarely review the Reader feed without tag filtering.

You can also create a List of Tags, which enables you to filter the Reader by multiple Tags at once (for directions on creating Lists, see Item 9, below).

reader tags

So, make sure you include tags in your posts. However, be aware that if you add more than 15 Tags and Categories (collectively) to your post, the Reader will not display your post (Click HERE for official WP explanation).

tags


3. CATEGORIES

Some people confuse Categories and Tags. Tags are more about the searchability of your posts; whereas Categories are more about organizing your posts. By setting Categories, your Blog can then be filtered by those Categories. For example, you can add any or all of your Categories to your Blog’s Menu, and then followers can click on the categorical content they want to view. Below is a screenshot of my Blog’s Menu with Categories.

categories

You add Categories to your posts just like you do tags (see screenshot in Tags tip, above).

On my Blog, I actually added a Category named “Categories”, added that Category to the Menu as a “parent,” and then added sub-Category items (child) to that parent Category in the Menu.

However, a much simpler way to do this is just to add your Categories directly to your Menu, then, when a follower clicks on the Menu item, all posts under that Category will be displayed.

To do this, click on “Menus” in your Dashboard; click the “+” beside the Menu item that you want your new item to precede or follow on the Menu; you will then be asked to “add menu item above” or “add menu item below”; after choosing the location, select “Category” from the drop-down window; then select the Category you want to appear in your Menu.

menu 2

menu

You can also add your list of Categories in your Sidebar or Footer by means of the Category Widget.


4. BLOCKING SITES IN THE READER

Have you been annoyed by a particular Blog that hogs Reader space with multiple posts or multiple tags, or by a Blog that has offensive or uninteresting content? You can easily remove that Blog from the Reader as follows:

In the Reader, look for the dots beside the offending Blog Post, click on those dots, click on “Block Site,” and the offender disappears forever. Oh so wonderful!

block
I would not block this site because it is one that I follow.

5. COMMENT SIGNATURES

One challenge in Blogging is developing a loyal following. One way to increase traffic to your Blog is to visit others’ sites and comment. The more you interact with others, the more they will interact with you. Also, other bloggers may see your comment and investigate your Blog.

One non-intrusive way of increasing traffic is to include in your comment a link to your Blog, to your most recent post, or to one of your posts that might be relevant to the post you are commenting on. So how to do this? Pretty simple. You just need to enter the HTML code for your post link in the comment bubble. Here’s how:

The HTML code will look like the highlighted portion below (ignore the comment typo–geeze):

comment signature

Just insert your post URL between the quotation marks in the highlighted code above and your post title before the </a>. Replace the bold type below with your information (make sure to keep the quotation marks):

<a href=”YOUR POST URL ADDRESS/”>POST TITLE</a>

You can place that code anywhere in the comment bubble. When you submit the comment, it will change to a link as follows:

comment signature 2
[NOTE: THIS TIP SHOULD NOT BE INTERPRETED AS ENCOURAGEMENT OR A LICENSE TO SPAM OR ADVERTISE ON ANOTHER BLOGGER’S SITE. LINKS TO ARTICLES SHOULD NOT BE INCLUDED IN COMMENTS UNLESS THE CONTENT IS HIGHLY RELEVANT TO THE POST YOU ARE COMMENTING ON. SIGNATURE LINES (SUCH AS A LINK TO YOUR BLOG OR RECENT POST) SHOULD BE MINIMAL–SHORT, SWEET AND DISCRETE. DON’T GET ALL FANCY WITH ELABORATE HTML CODES, WITH COLORS, BOLD TYPE, MULTI-LINES, ETC. THE COMMENT SHOULD BE FOCUSED ON THE CONTENT OF THE AUTHOR’S POST. SPAMMING AND BLATANT ADVERTISING ARE FROWNED UPON BY WORDPRESS AND THE BLOGGING COMMUNITY AT LARGE. SOME MAY DISAGREE, BUT I BELIEVE A SHORT AND SIMPLE SIGNATURE LINE IS PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE.]


6. ADMINISTRATOR PANEL

One great WordPress function is the Administrator Panel, which, for some reason, I always have a hard time finding. To get to this panel, simply type “/wp-admin” at the end of your Blog home address in the URL window and press enter.

admin

This Administrator  Panel has a treasure trove of information and functionality. You can access some of this information in your regular Dashboard, but the Admin Panel is more robust. Unfortunately, the Admin Panel does not work well on a mobile phone, so you may need your iPad (or other tablet) or your computer, but you can access the Admin Panel on your mobile device by going to the web version of WordPress instead of using the mobile app.


7. THREADED (NESTED) COMMENTS

Have you ever engaged in a discussion on a Blog post and the person you are trying to respond to no longer has a “Reply” button? It usually takes a few replies before this happens. The bad thing about that is you then have to back up several levels and make a new comment, and the person you are trying to respond to may never receive a notification of your response because you were not able to reply directly to his or her comment. This problem is due to the “nesting” setting for the Blog you are commenting on. Many have this nesting set to 2 or 3 levels, which I find too restrictive if a post generates a lot of enthusiasm.

So, here is how to set that on your own Blog. Go to the Admin Panel (see above instructions), click on “Settings,” then “Discussion,” enable “nesting” and set the number of levels–I recommend at least 5.

nesting


8. COMMENT MODERATION

If you want to review comments before they are posted to your Blog, you can enable “Moderation,” which requires you to approve the comment before it becomes public. Lots of people have this enabled. I don’t because I think people like to see their comments immediately pop up. If I get to the point where I receive bad comments, I may change this. For now, I like Moderation off. There have only been a few comments I did not like, and I can simply “Unapprove” them and they go to a moderation status.

To set Moderation on or off, go to the Admin Panel (see above instructions), click on “Settings,” then “Discussion,” and check the radio button or buttons highlighted below that you prefer:

moderation

The comments waiting for moderation will show up in your Admin Panel under “Comments.”


9. MANAGE THE BLOGS YOU FOLLOW, INCLUDING EMAIL SUBSCRIPTIONS

Most of us follow a lot of Blogs. We do this because there are a lot of good Blogs out there, but we also do this in order to develop a following ourselves. Despite following a lot of Blogs, most Bloggers have a much smaller go-to list of Blogs. Therefore, they don’t want email notifications from every Blog they follow. They also may want to form a short-list of go-to Blogs in the Reader. Both of these can be easily accomplished through the regular WordPress Dashboard.

Click on “Reader,” then “Manage” out beside “Followed Sites.” This will populate a list of all the Blogs you follow. Beside each Blog will be a down arrow; click on the arrow and you will have the choice to toggle email notifications on or off. I set this every time I follow a new Blog.

follow

From this same panel, you can also create all kinds of “Lists” or subsets of Blogs. For example, I created a “Favorites” List, which includes my go-to Blogs. When in the Reader, I can simply click on this Favorites List, and only those Blog Posts appear.

To do this, click on “Lists” in the Dashboard and then click “Manage.” From there you can create all kinds of Lists, including your favorite Blogs, or you can group your followed Blogs by tags, or you can create a List of tags to filter the Discover feed.

lists

One other nice feature is the ability to add a Blog to your Reader feed manually. This is particularly helpful for non-Wordpress Blogs or for WordPress Blogs where the Blogger does not have the “follow” button function enabled. To do this, click on “Followed Sites” in the Dashboard, then click on “Manage,” then paste the web address (URL) of the Blog you want to follow into the bubble. If it can be followed in the Reader, the Blog will appear with a “+ Follow” beside it. Click the “Follow” button, and that Blog has now been added to your Reader feed. If it is a non-Wordpress site, it will add an RSS feed for the Blog (if available).

manage 3

manage 4


10. BLOGROLL AND LINKS

Another nice function is the ability to display a list of Blogs that support you or that you follow. This can be done by adding either the “Blogs I Follow” widget or the “Links” widget. To add the widgets, go to the Dashboard and select “Customize” on “Themes.”

custom

Then select “Widgets.”

widgets

You will then be asked whether to add the widget to the Sidebar or Footer of your Theme template.

sidebar

BLOGS I FOLLOW 

The “Blogs I Follow” widget has limited functionality and is really only helpful if you only follow a few sites and all of those you want to prominently display. It will list up to 50 blogs, starting with those you’ve most recently followed. To add this widget, select “Add a Widget” and then “Blogs I Follow.”

blog follow

Then you will have a limited number of options, such as how many Blogs to display. You can rename the widget as well.

blog follow 2

Click “Save,” and the Blogroll should be displayed wherever you placed the widget on your Blog.

LINKS

While a little more cumbersome to set up initially, the “Links” widget is far more useful. This widget allows you to list the exact Blogs (or other links) you want to display and there is no number limit.

Follow the same steps above for adding a widget, but choose “Links” instead of “Blogs I follow.”

blogroll list

There are several options to toggle as shown below.

blogroll links 2

After adding the Links Widget, you will now need to add the actual links you want to display. To do this, go to “Links” in the Admin Panel (see instructions above). From there, you can add links and even set link categories.

blogroll links wp

Link Categories (different from your Blog Categories) allow you to display different lists in your widget area. Within the widget, you can choose which Category to display. Now, add the Blog Title and Link manually in the spaces above and choose the Category. When finished, make sure you select which Category of Links to display within the widget settings (either in the general Dashboard or within the Admin Panel):

link final.PNG


11. SHORTLINK

There are many occasions for needing a shorter URL for your posts, such as for Twitter. You can find this shortened URL within the WordPress editor. Under “Sharing” you will find the “Shortlink” for your published Blog Post. Simply copy and paste the address where you need it.

sharing.PNG

sharing2


12. Read More or Continue Reading

If you want your Blog to display an abbreviated version of your post (instead of the entire post) with a “Read More” or “Continue Reading” link, you will need to add the appropriate code to your post. Fortunately, WordPress has a button for this in the post editor. Within the editor, place your cursor where you want the “Read More” tag to be inserted. Then click on the button highlighted below.

read more.PNG

In the visual editor, it will show up in the body of the post as follows:

read more2.PNG

The Read More tag is actually easier to place in the HTML editor. To get there, click on the “HTML” tab of the editor.

html.PNG

Once in the HTML editor, you will find the following, which is the HTML code for the Read More tag inserted above:

more

In the HTML editor, you can move or type that code anywhere in the text of the post you would like for it to appear.  When you are finished, preview the post to make sure it looks satisfactory (sometimes you will need to add a space before or after it for cosmetic purposes). The abbreviated post should look something like this:

greatness tag


13.  EMOJI

Have you ever wondered how commentators add those emoticons or emoji in comments? It’s very simple. Just add the following keystrokes, and the corresponding emoticon or emoji will appear when you submit your comment.

:) :)
😉 ;)
😀 :D
😄 XD
>:D >:D
😦 :(
😥 :'(
😐 :|
:/ :/
😮 :o
😛 :P
😡 >:(
o_O o_O
😎 8-)
^^’ ^^'
❤ <3
😕 :?
🐱 =^-^=
👿 :evil:
😈 :twisted:
:mrgreen: :mrgreen:
😳 :oops:
🙄 :roll:
💡 :idea:
❗ :!:
❓ :?:
🐻 :bear:
⭐ :star:
➡ :arrow:

14.  HOW TO ADD AN IMAGE TO A COMMENT

Ever wanted to add an image to a comment? That’s very easy as well. Just insert the following html code where you want the image to appear:

<img src=”image_url”/>

Add the URL address for your image between the quotation marks. When you submit the comment containing the foregoing code, the image will appear in place of the Code.


15.  EMAIL NOTIFICATION MANAGEMENT

Do you get too many email notifications from WordPress? Tired of your email box being littered by all the notifications for “Likes,” and “Follows,” and “Comments”? For me, I prefer my notifications to show up in my Timeline and not in my email. In order to effectively turn off your email notifications, there are several settings in different locations that must be toggled off.

The first place to go is the Admin Panel (see above). There are several places to toggle off email notifications. See images below:

email1

email2

Make sure you click “Save Changes” before exiting.

Unfortunately, this did not solve my problem. So, the next place to turn is your Profile Settings either within the mobile app or on the website.  From there, select “Notifications,” and there are many types of email notification options to turn on or off.

email3

email4

email5

email6

And the following allows you to set the default email subscription for sites you follow:

email7

 

 

122 thoughts on “15 WordPress.com Tips for Newbies (Updated)

  1. Great post, the technology part of blogging is so daunting. I have this God awful fear of trying to insert a plugin (whatever the hell that is) and deleting all my hard work! I’m really afraid of HTML (again whatever the hell that is) but i’m sure i’ll get there!
    I often wonder how much the look of your blog holds you back?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! I think presentation is very important, unfortunately. If I see a poorly structured site, I often just skip over it. The freebie WordPress sites have very little customizing you can even do. Most of the customization abilities come with the paid sites. I’ve not reached the point that I could justify that yet. The free sites don’t let you add plug-ins that I am aware of. But you can add widgets to certain areas of your Blog depending on your theme template.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I feel like I have good content but the look is probably more than lacking but sure I’ll just keep plodding along. I can’t justify paying out for a hobby when I’ve three kids to feed. Time will tell

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I actually like your site layout. It’s very challenging with the limited template functions they give us on these freebies. I’m on like my third or fourth template trying to find one that looks a bit more professional. Still can’t quite get there. I know what needs to be done to mine, but I’d have to pay the premium to do it. Like you, that’s not where I’m spending my money right now. If I have thousands of people actually reading my blog one day, then I might bend.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Why thank you! I’d love to know how to add content to different tabs at the top… like right now I have about me and my blog posts but i’d love let’s say to have a place where I reblogged others work…. but i don’t want it mixed with my stories. or where i could put my birth stories in one folder for the want of a better word. but like i said i’ll figure it out at some stage… be worse if i could think of nothing to write about i suppose!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I just recently added a “Reblogs” to my Menu. You can sort the others by Categories, and add the Categories to your Menu. You could also change the home page to a “static page” as opposed to your Blog.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Very informative post and the display to go along with each category is most helpful…as they say a picture is worth 1000 words…I think this will be an immensely useful post to many! Well done! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! I tried to put down the ones that I tripped over initially, even though they are fairly elementary. WordPress free version is not user friendly at all. Much better site development services out there but WP has such a huge blogger base to tap into.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is very helpful especially for beginners. Yeah, I started with a free theme but soon found I wanted to do so much more. My theme costs $99 per year and I thought that’s less than $10 per month, heck I’m worth it!! So glad i decided to upgrade… 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for following! Very good list of ‘instructions’, especially for newbies. I’ll have to give the links widget a try – I must admit I’ve been put off previously as it did seem long winded, but now I can follow your steps, thanks! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve got some great tips here, really helpful! I’ve also learned a lot from reading and following various WordPress tips & guidelines. Like their Comment Guidelines. One interesting thing is that they see adding links to your blog or encouraging others to visit it as “shameless self-promotion.” I did that a couple times – then read their guidelines, and went “oops!” I also took their Commenting Bootcamp, where I learned that the purpose of comments should be to encourage the blog we’re visiting. But this post is great – we can never have too much help!

    And I really enjoy your articles. Especially parenting from the male perspective. Most of the parenting blogs out there are mommy blogs. So keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent points and I should have included that clarification in the post. I will revise that shortly to include.

      To be clear, I in no way encourage spamming someone’s blog. That should not be the spirit at all. In fact, Bloggers should have their settings tweaked so that comments with 2 or more links are automatically flagged as spam. Mine is set to 2.

      That said, I do not think including a simple signature at the end of a comment with a link to your blog or recent post is spamming. I might think otherwise if someone just pasted their long form html address, but using html code is not intrusive.

      Further, I only comment on a post after reading it in good faith. I don’t post a generic comment simply for self-promotion. And the only time I ever include a link to a post other than in the signature is if I think the Blogger might find the info useful or interesting based upon the content of the Blogger’s post. No one should ever post a comment that is a blatant advertisement.

      But great comments, and I’ll fix that section.

      Thank you for reading!

      Like

      1. Exactly. As WordPress brings out – our goal should to be encourage each other! And I highly recommend the WordPress boot camps. I sure learned a lot, anyway! Keep up the good work!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you very much for sharing. I could not work out what was going on with my reader – posts from the same place coming up over and over again. I have blocked them as you suggested and now I have lots of great new posts to read. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for posting. So much helpful information in this post. It will take me some time to search it all out, and let it soak in kinetically. You are correct about the trial and error. I have errors in my category versus tags. Deserves some clean up, just not sure yet how to do that. I’m not new (exactly), but I did not set goals originally for when or what to blog about. I’ve been working on making frequency commitments to myself. You said you like cruising around, hope you stumble upon my blog (which I don’t think has Christianity as a category yet). I’ve decided to start following you after cruising thru just the titles of some of your postings. Thank you for making a “help desk” cheat sheet blog. I love it.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Reblogging on importantstuff.live with comment: “Reblogging this helpful posting on tips for WordPress.com newbies.”
    Thank you for posting. I need to implement most of it on my blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thanks so much for coming up with this! It’s really helpful especially since I’m quite new and not familar (or haven’t really explored) with the functions. Do you perhaps know of a Christian WordPress community? I enjoy writing and reading in that area but can’t seem to find the right places.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are welcome. I’m not sure what you mean about a WordPress community, but I’ve only been blogging a few months. I did come across the following, which has a list of link hops, which usually involves a collaboration of a number of bloggers, including a lot of Christian blogs. http://www.myjoyfilledlife.com/the-ultimate-link-up-party-list/. Beyond that, I know there are sites that accept contributions. I have not ventured down that path yet. What I do notice is if you go to the WP Reader and select Discover, you can then filter based on content tags. “Christianity” is one I filter the most, and I see a lot of the same people who seem to follow each other and cross-comment. More experienced bloggers could give you much more helpful advice.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much! I guess I will explore a little more 🙂 I’m just not sure whether there is an “area” where Christian bloggers come together and share their topics, but I guess as of now there’s the following and cross-commenting option. Your advice has been plenty helpful!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. This would’ve been a great post for me a year ago, when I just started. But, it is still good even now, a year later. I learned something new here today, and that is the number of comments one can have. Thanks for the tips.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s funny how it seems difficult for us to read basic instructions because the details are so overwhelming that we would rather just dive in and go through a trial and error period that probably takes as much time, if not more so, as reading the how- to in the first place. Instruction manuals are either too sparse or too detailed. Rare to find nicely distilled ones. The irony is the manual writers want to make sure you understand not only how you should do it but they also include disclaimers so the text just becomes dense. This is generally speaking of course.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. I needed this post like 12 months ago. Haha! Even so, you’ve demystified a few things for me–like “read more” & shortlinks. Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed post! This will help me tremendously!

    Liked by 2 people

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