I’m so glad I’m recovered enough to post this. I’m sorry for skipping on Wednesday and that pseudo-post on Monday. I was down with viral fever and it was the best I could do. I still have a headache and all the shenanigans, so let me not waste any more words on the introduction then as the title is quite clear. If you’re a beginner and find this helpful, please let me know that my hard work behind this post is paying off.
In this post, I’m going to discuss about first posts, the tools on WordPress that make writing posts easier and what kind of pages you might need. How to create posts and pages is explained step-by-step in the first link provided under Helpful Links section, in case you want to check that out first.
1. What to Put in Your First Post
I’ve actually written an entire post about that (which you can read here). What it says, essentially, is to make your first post about whatever you want. A lot of advice out there tells you that it should be an introduction to yourself and your blog, but the thing is posts are displayed chronologically on your blog, so the older your blog gets, the tougher (ridiculously impossible, to be honest) it is for your new followers and curious passers-by to notice it. This is why I recommend putting all of that info into a cool page called ‘About’. First posts can be the most obvious kind of posts for a blog in your niche. For example, on Unputdownable Books, the first post was a book review. While that might sound boring or predictable, I’m quite happy with it because that’s the kind of content I do want on my blog. Also, if I’m happy with it, that’s all that matters. My advice, therefore, is to write a post that is relevant to the topic of your blog and hit publish. Don’t stress about it or worry about the rules or keep second-guessing and subconsciously avoiding that publish button.
2. How Often You Should Post
I wish I could give you like a formula for this. I’d definitely be dubbed the Einstein of Blogging or something if I did. The hard truth is that this is something no amount of advice can do for you. This is going to take some trial and error. This is something you should be mentally prepared to be flexible about. I highly recommend starting off with something I’d like to call “extremely doable”. The initial weeks are the hardest, or so I’ve found. Once the first few posts are out there, but you get little to no feedback or you lose the excitement over your new and shiny blog, it is very tempting to give up and move on to another hobby. This is why having a schedule even a reluctant brain can find easy is important. You can always start small and go up from there. For example, on Unputdownable Books, I’m sticking to two posts a week right now. This is easily doable for me at the moment because that’s an overall 5-day blogging schedule.
Another tip (shared by Briana from Pages Unbound) is to have a few posts scheduled to go even as you start because life is going to get in the way (oh, I don’t know, like viral fever?) and it is going to take time and effort to build a blogging habit. Try out a doable schedule out for at least three weeks. Once you become consistent, you can scale up or tone down as necessary. Another thing I’d suggest is to keep specific posting days. It’s all fine to say, “I’m going to post once a week”, but there’s an 85% chance a reader is going to miss your post if you don’t post on a particular day that they know beforehand. For example, as you very well may have noticed, I post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on here. This information is on my About page and my regular readers look forward to posts by me on these days (at least I hope they do). Just like you know when your favourite TV show is going to air, apply the same principle to your blog.
3. Time-travelling With Your Posts
[Note: Sorry, the title just sounded cool. Time-travel is still not possible.] However, you can go to the past or the future with your WordPress Editor. I talked about scheduling posts in the previous section. If you’re wondering how to do that, click on Status under Post Settings. On clicking the little clock, a calendar shows up where you can edit the date and time at which your post is to be published. If you know you’re going to have a busy week or month ahead of time, it makes sense to write up a bunch of posts and publish them on your regular days to keep your readers happy (also, they might never notice your absence and if that’s not every introvert’s biggest dream, I don’t know what is). This has come in handy several times for me and I know a lot of people who use this feature regularly (such Rachel Poli or Briana and Krysta from Pages Unbound because they are super-organised).
4. Categories & Tags
One of my close friends asked me this question a while back about what categories and tags are, how to use them, etc. That is one of the sections in Post Settings, so I felt compelled to talk about it. Category is the broad topic under which you would put your post. For example, this post and every other in this series is going under ‘Blogging Tips’. By default, WP assigns every post to ‘Uncategorized’ and you have to manually change it every time before you publish a post. Some other categories I have on this blog are ‘Monday Musings’, ‘Vocab Wednesdays’, ‘Popular’ (award posts and such go there) and Writing. I’d recommend not putting one post under more than three categories. It really doesn’t help visibility and is just a way of organising the various kinds of posts on your blog.
According to WordPress:
Tags provide a useful way to group related posts together and to quickly tell readers what a post is about. Tags also make it easier for people to find your content. Tags are similar to, but more specific than, categories. The use of tags is completely optional.
Tags should be familiar to anyone using social media in this era. Take keywords from your post and put them under the ‘Tags’ section. The tags I used for this post can be seen at the bottom just before the comments section begins (on the site, Reader usually swallows them). [Caution: Using more than 15 tags on a single post is a liable to make it not show up on Search, Discover, etc., so be economical when it comes to them.]
5. Post Formats, HTML and Previewing
WordPress and most themes on it supports a variety of post formats. If you’re posting only a picture with a post title (as I tend to do on Wednesdays), you can change the format to Image. If you love collecting quotes, try the customised post format for that. The little icons really help identify what content is associated with each post format. It just makes the specific type of content stand out rather than making it all a boring old ‘Standard’ post, which is why I’d nudge you to check that out. [Caution: Not all themes support all post formats.]
One of my favourite review techniques to use before my posts go live is the ‘Preview’. What happens is I finish drafting my post and there’s obviously the need to edit. To provide a different medium for my brain, I click on the ‘Preview’ button that is conveniently located next to the Post Settings. It provides three views – how your published post looks on a PC screen, a tablet and a phone screen. I check for mistakes in the PC mode, but before I publish, I cycle through all of the views to see if my photos are appearing correctly, if the post format is wonky in any of the views, etc. I find this really very handy to polish up my posts and make them look professional across all devices.
What are these utterly confounding pieces of tech wizardry called pages? By default, your blog’s homepage contains all of your blog posts, arranged in chronological order, starting from the most recent one. Since this changes every time you post, it’s a dynamic page. There might be some information that you want upfront and visible so that readers can access that easily. For that, you can create something called static pages. These can be edited as and when the info changes, but it basically displays that same set of things for all of eternity.
1. The About Page
This is a page that I consider an absolute must for every blog. Since I discouraged you from putting all that information in your first post, this is the best place to talk about yourself and your page. There is tons of advice out there on how to craft the perfect About page and some of it does make a lot of sense. I personally feel like you should write it in the most natural voice possible, so the readers can get a feel of who you are as a person. Also, keep it concise and update it frequently. Let’s say you just want a little overview of a blog and its owner, but have at most five minutes. Convey all of the relevant information keeping such a situation in mind. [Pro tip: A small photo of yourself can help your readers put a face to a name. Be creative with it because this is where you get to truly express yourself.]
2. Other Pages
Since I run a book blog, I have a page on that called ‘Review Policy’. Publishers and authors are most welcome to send me books to review on my blog, but I have certain specifications for the kind of books I like to read. This is why it’s helpful to have those spelled out so I can point them to that in case I feel the need to decline requests. A Contact Page detailing all your contact info and containing a form to fill out is another useful page. You can also consider having a Disclaimer page, a page for guest bloggers who want to post on your blog – so on and so forth.
This is an almost 2k-word monster I did not expect to write because I didn’t know I had this much to say on these topics. Experienced bloggers, have any more tips to add that I missed? For the new guys, did this cover all your queries on posts and pages? Have some more? Leave them all in the comments section below. Have a happy weekend! 🙂