2: Start Blogging

You’ve got something to write about. Maybe you’d like to talk about your day, rant about your job (be careful), share your love for whatever cool vintage thing it is you collect, have a site for your band, or somewhere to keep your friends and family updated when you’re travelling. All of these things are possible with WordPress. How the site looks and works is shaped by the content that’s going to be there.

Posts and Pages

WordPress splits most content as two main types, Posts and Pages. Posts (with a capital P) are generally chronologicaly posted information. Most regularly-updated web content such as news websites, blogs, and even social things like Twitter and Facebook would be considered Posts in WordPress-world. They can be grouped by Category and Tag (more on these later), but the main way people interact with Posts is chronologically, by reading back through in date order. Pages are more static, hierarchical information. “About”, “Contact”, “Portfolio” and “Biography” are all classic Page content. Pages are generally updated less often, but have critical information which you want any site visitor to be able to find quickly. They can also be ordered in a specific hierarchy, so “Portfolio” may have child pages of “Photography” and “Videography”, and these may be parents to further child pages. Perhaps “Videography” might have “Music Videos” and “Documentaries”. [WordPress documentation on Pages, and differences from Posts.]

Categories and Tags

So, if most content you add to your site will be sitting in this endless stream of Posts, how can people find a specific piece of information? Categories and Tags are ways to group content of a certain topic. They’re somewhat similar to Pages and Posts: Categories are generally few in number, but can have hierarchy, while Tags are much more free-form and specific. Say you have a music review site. You might have categories called “Albums” and “Gigs”, for the things you’re reviewing. If you’re writing a gig review, you would categorize it under “Gigs”, but you may then add lots of tags – the names of the bands who played, genres of music which were played, and even the name of the venue. Like this: Title: Show Pony at The Edge, featuring Mervin Jarmin, Cowper, Good With Girls, and  Sleepwalks. Category: Gigs. Tags:  Show Pony, The Edge, Good With Girls, Cowper, Mervin Jarmin, Sleepwalks Tags are voluminous micro-categories, which can help organically organize your content by themes.

Let’s Write a Post

You get the picture. Posts and Tags are dynamic and excitable. Pages and Categories are hierarchical and dependable. If all goes to plan, you’ll be writing many many Posts on your site, so let’s start there. In your site admin, click “Add New” under “Posts”.

General Post-writing Guidelines

Blogging is all about personality, we can’t really say that there are specific Rules to blogging, but there sure are guidelines you should follow if you don’t want to seem like a tool.

Use a Descriptive Title

Think of it as the filename of your post. If you call everything “Stuff” or “Things”, or “What I Did Today”, then nobody will be able to come back and find that cool post about Stuff you did a couple of months ago. Use the title to give  more information about the post. What kind of stuff are you writing about? What things did you do today?

Posts are about Content, not Colours

Like any kind of writing, you can easily get bogged down in choosing a font, finding an exciting piece of clip art to illustrate every section of your post, and making each heading and paragraph a different colour. More so than other types of writing, on the web this is an utter waste of time.

For most websites I administer, over half of the traffic comes from search engines. Your pretty colours won’t appear in the search engine listing, so that time doesn’t help you get more visitors to your site.

Websites are also very dynamic creatures. Your content will be around for a long time, and the site 4 years from now may look completely different. Sure, your bright yellow heading might look super punchy right now on the blog’s dark grey background, but you decide to change your theme to a light background, that heading will lose its impact somewhat.

What is useful to search engines, and friendly for your future design changes, is organization of information. Things like Headings, Blockquotes and Lists are semantic styles. They add extra meaning to the text, so humans and computers will be able to quickly figure out what information on the page is most important. The colour and size etc. of headings are generally tied to the Theme of your blog. If you use headings, then you can change a single file and every heading on your entire site will be updated to the new theme.

Quote, Don’t Copy

Especially at the beginning of your blogging career, you might not have loads to say. The word “Blog” is actually a shortened version of “Web Log”, which started out as a collection of links and articles. So the whole blogging “movement” is founded on people quoting and commenting upon each others’ work. Due to the magic of Copy and Paste, it’s very easy to completely reproduce someone else’s content. Every time someone does this, I bite the head off a kitten, so rather than copying someone’s entire article, quote a section of it, and link back to the original source. There’s a special “blockquote” button sitting right there in the WordPress toolbar.