Blogging forArtists

...with Hannah West
Care & Feeding of Your WordPress Blog
Here are explanations of the use and maintenance of key features in your blog. You can copy the contents of this document into a page in your blog and publish it privately so it will be easy to access when you're working with it. BASIC MAINTENANCE TASKS UPDATES - PLUGINS AND THEME From time to time you'll see a number appear next to the "Updates" link. This is telling you how many components of the blog have updates available; usually it will be one or more plugins calling for attention. Plugins are little software modules that add functionality to your blog, and there are good reasons for quite a few of them. It's prudent to keep them up to date, both for your site's security and smooth functionality. Don't worry, this doesn't take long. 1. Click "Updates" and to retrieve a page with all the plugins that have updates ready. 2. Click the checkbox next to each item on the list and click "Update Plugins" 3. Generally WordPress doesn't need any help with this, other than leaving everything alone while it works. A message will appear in the page telling you when it's completed the updates so you know you're free to go to another page. If you have a lot of updating to do and don't want to wait, you can open a link to another part of the blog in a new browser tab so you can continue working while it performs this task. Don't try to save any work before the plugin update is competed or you will get an error! If your theme needs updating, it will show in a second list on this page. Before installing a theme update, make sure you've backed up your theme settings (if available) first. The procedure may different with different themes. If anything goes wrong with your theme's settings during an upgrade, you can import the settings file to restore them. It is such a relief to know you have that on hand when an accident happens! UPDATES - WORDPRESS WordPress will announce an available update less frequently. It's important to do this. Back up your database and export your WordPress settings , along with any other special plugin settings (if any) before proceeding! To export WordPress settings: 1. Scroll down till you see the "Tools" menu on the left.

2. Click to open menu, then click "Export" 3. Click the "Download Export file" button 4. At the prompt, save the file to your computer. Note: The default filename uses the export date as part of the name. You can change this, but keeping it will remind you when the settings were last exported. Keep these exports in their own file for easy access. 5. Now click the link calling your attention to the WordPress update. It will take you to an update page where you can observe/manage its progress. Usually it will automatically back up your files before installing the update, but sometimes it gives you an option whether or not to do this. When given the choice, always choose to back up first. Sometimes even the database needs an upgrade. It will let you know if you need to do this when the blog update is complete; just follow the prompts, give it the time it needs and you'll be fine. You can save the database backup to your computer or to the server.

A. THE BASICS OF POSTING A BLOG ENTRY 1. ADD NEW POST ! a. Go to the Posts menu and click "Add New." You'll be taken to the post editor. ! b. The blank window just beneath the "Add New Post" page title is for your post title Enter the title text ! c. The big blank window under that is your main editing window. You'll notice two tabs at the top right of this window, "Visual" and "HTML." Unless you feel like messing with code, click Visual, click into the editing window and start typing. If you feel you need more room while assembling your post, click the Toggle Fullscreen icon - the blue square fourth from the right in the first line of icons. Click it again to exit fullscreen mode. You can also go into your Writing settings to increase the number of lines in your editing window. *Click "Save Draft" at least once between the time you begin and the point where it's close to a final version. It's dreadful losing your work. 2. EXCERPTS When you're finished typing, scroll down to the "Excerpt" window and type a short summary of your article's content. Why is this important? Whether or not you customize the excerpt text, an excerpt will show: ! a. on the homepage under the photo link to the article ! b. on the category page ! c. in the Facebook page where your post will be fed automatically after you publish. (if using Networked Blogs at Facebook. Highly recommended) ! d. in the Tweet which is automatically generated when you publish your post. (if using the appropriate plugin. Also recommended) ! e. in a subscriber's feed reader. If you leave it blank, all these locations will automatically use the first line or two, and perhaps another random line from your post, so if you think this will do the job you don't have to fill it in. However, some posts really do need a handcrafted excerpt. To experiment, leave blank and publish, then see what shows up on the home page link. If it looks okay, you're good to go. If you think you can do better, go to the Posts page, mouse over the post title to make the edit menu appear, click "edit" and add your own excerpt, then click "Update Page."

3. CATEGORIES Choose from one or more existing categories by scrolling through the list and checking the appropriate categories for your post. *Assigning the correct category(ies) to your post is an essential part of keeping your blog's content organized and easily accessible to visitors. Do the best you can to create a complete set of categories so you have what you need on hand. You can also add a new one on the fly when creating a new post, which we'll address later. You can examine all the available categories and add new ones by going to the "Posts" menu and clicking "Categories." 4. TAGS... are what you type into a search engine - in reverse. They call the search engine's attention to the fact that a post contains information relevant to these key words, which helps them determine if the content is relevant to a person's search term, so you should always tag your posts! You can click the "Choose from most used tags" link and it will open up a tag cloud. Select the tags relevant to your post. If you need more than what you see, type a key word into the "Add New Tag" bar and click "Add." Once you've gotten to the point that you've used more keywords than the cloud can display, this will also search your entire collection of tags and pull up tags it thinks you might find useful and displays them to you. To add multiple tags, separate each tag with a comma. When finished, click "Add." * Tagging is very important, but over-tagging can render both searches and the "related posts" function unhelpful, so you don't want to overdo it. Just make sure to include any term a visitor using your blog's search or someone using a search engine might type in to find your post. Some posts need more than others. You'll get a feel for what's effective with practice. Tags will show: a. At the bottom of the post b. In the tag cloud that appears on the Home page when one clicks "Tags" in the tabbed menu at the top of the left sidebar. 5. ADD FEATURED IMAGE We'll deal with adding images to your post later, but even for a text-only post, you'll most likely want to add a Featured Image so a thumbnail will appear on the home page and anywhere else an image link to the post may appear. Here's what you do: ! a. Look for a link at the bottom of the right sidebar titled "Set Featured Image," click it and your media library will appear in a lightbox. ! b. Click the dropdown menu and choose an image. If you have a logo or signature piece of art, itʼs good to title it in such a way that you can find it easily when doing this. ! c. Once it loads, click "Show" then click "Use as Featured Image." Don't click "Insert into Post." Now your post is ready to publish! 6. PUBLISH POST Click "Publish" and it will become available to the public! If you're not ready and have to leave your post before it's finished, click "Save Draft." You can find it on the "Posts" page or the “drafts” page when you're ready to return to it. When you finalize

your edits to a page or post that has already been saved as a draft or published, click "Update Page" to make your changes public. B. WORKING WITH IMAGES The WordPress media management tools are pretty straightforward... 1. UPLOAD A NEW IMAGE AND ADD TO POST ! a. To add a new image to your post, first click your cursor in the part of your post where you want it to appear. To begin, click in before the first word of text. ! b. Click the first box to the right of "Upload/Insert," at the top of the editing window. This brings up the upload window. ! c. The window opens by default to "From Computer." Click "Select Files," but only choose one right now. (Later you can upload all the images you want to use for a post at one time, then retrieve them when you're ready to place them in the post) ! d. Click "Open," and the file uploads. When it's finished, it will expand it to show you some options. ! ! 1. Title - If you left the default filename when uploading your image, rename your image file to a title that is related to the image. This is what shows in the tooltip that pops up when mousing over an image and helps the search engines determine relevance when indexing your site's content. ! ! 2. Alternate Text is what shows in a screen reader, a device used by people with disabilities to use the internet. Legally (according to internet conventions - the police probably won't come knocking at your door), and to be considerate, you're required to enter something here to help the disabled navigate your content, but it's also another opportunity to give the search engines more to chew on. I usually copy the title and paste it here, sometimes adding a bit of extra information. ! ! 3. Caption is what will show at the bottom of your image. Repeat the title and add an image credit. *Note: Try to keep it brief, it can get confused if it has to wrap more than a line or two. It can also get confused if you use punctuation marks, especially quotes, and even more so when you have multiple images with captions in your post. ! ! 4. Description is another place to add any further information about the image that might help the search engines when indexing your content. Easy to shine on, but very important. You can use this field to enter a copyright notice or other information about your image. ! ! 5. Link URL: This tells WordPress where to link the image. You have options… ! ! ! a.The Fancybox plugin opens an enlargement of any image on your blog in a "Lightbox." To use this feature for your image, click "File URL." It will enter the correct file path automatically. Naturally you must have the FancyBox plugin installed and activated for this to work. ! ! ! b. You can also link an image to a page inside the blog, an online document or external website. To do this, enter the web address of the page or website. Always remember to include the "http://" or your link won't work! ! ! ! c. If you want the image to link to the post, click "Post URL." It will enter the correct file path automatically, and when a reader clicks the image it will take them to the post page. ! ! ! d. If you don't want to link the image to anything, or need to clear the window to re-enter a url, click "None"

! ! ! e. Alignment: Choose how you want your image aligned. "None" will prevent text from wrapping around it. MOst often you will want to select "Left" or "Right" to align the image to one side and place your text beside it. ! ! ! f. Size: Choose whether you want you image displayed at full size (not recommended - save that for the Fancybox enlargement) or one of the smaller options it shows you, these may vary from image to image. 300 pixels is a good choice for most post illustrations. ! ! ! g. Select "Use as Featured Image" to select this image as the post thumbnail ! ! ! h. Click "Insert into post" and you will be returned to the post editing window. The image will appear where your cursor was inserted when you began. 2. INSERTING AN IMAGE THAT'S ALREADY BEEN UPLOADED You can use previously uploaded photos to illustrate your post. To access your stored images, click the Upload/Insert button, click the "Media Library" tab and browse from the list or enter a search term in the search bar. Choose one, click "Show," make any necessary changes to the previously used settings, and click "Insert into Post." Remember to place the cursor where you want to insert your image first! 3. USING AN IMAGE FROM THE WEB ! 1. Right-click the image, find the image's filepath (its web address or location) and copy it. ! 2. In the editing window, click your cursor into the spot where you want the image to appear. ! 3. Click the Upload/Insert button, then the "From URL" tab. Paste into the "File URL" bar. ! 4. Give the image a title (remember this is the tooltip text), alt text and caption (if desired), set the alignment you want, and choose where to link the image. If you're not sure, link it to the ! 5. Click "Insert into Post" Your post is now ready to publish! C. POST OPTIONS Most of the “TinyMCE” icons lined up above the editing window should be familiar if you've used a word processing program. However, there are a couple of important ones that will be new to you. a. Paste from Word (using Word formatting and code) You'll find you do a lot of copy/paste to create your posts. Pasting text from a Word document is common, but extremely problematic because it puts jillions of lines of meaningless code in the html of the post which makes it very hard for the search engines to sort out. It's best never to copy and paste directly from a Word document. WordPress has simple tools to help eliminate this extra baggage: ! 1. Select and copy the text you want to use ! 2. Click the icon with a yellow clipboard and Word "W," in the middle of the second line of icons. You can also use the clipboard with a "T", which removes all formatting and reduces what you're pasting to text only so you can refornat it easily for your post (This is what I use most). ! 3. Paste into the editor window that pops up. If you see lines that look like code in the first several lines, delete them so your text moves to the top. ! 4. Click "Insert" b. adding a new category when creating a post If you don't find what you need in the existing categories, you can easily add a new one.

! 1. Look to the right of the editing window and find the "Add New Category" just beneath the list of categories. ! 2. Type in the name of your new category. If you want it to be a subcategory of another one you already have, click the "Parent" option and choose which category to place the new one under. ! 3. Click "Add Category" and your new category will appear in the list above, already checked to include your post there.

There are tens of thousands of free plugins you can easily download from WordPress to extend your blog's features and functionality. The problem is that you can waste huge amounts of painting time sifting through them all to find what you want/need, and once installed, you're still experimenting to see if what you found works the way you want! Here are my suggestions for a few easy to use plugins your blog can't live without, and a few more that are handy for certain things. Just copy and paste the plugin names below into the search bar on the WordPress “Add New Plugins” page to find them, then click install and, once installed, activate the plugin. WP DB Manager - A must for maintaining your blog! If you don't install any other plugins at all, you still need this one to manage your WordPress database. Allows you to optimize database, repair database, backup database, restore database, delete backup database, drop/empty tables and run selected queries. Supports automatic scheduling of backing up, optimizing and repairing of database. Fast Secure Contact Form - This contact form lets your visitors send you a quick E-mail message. Super customizable with a multi-form feature, optional extra fields, and an option to redirect visitors to any URL after the message is sent. Includes CAPTCHA and Akismet support to block all common spammer tactics. Spam is no longer a problem. NOt hard to set up and very, very useful. AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget - Help your visitor promote your site! The AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget allows any visitor to bookmark your site easily with many popular services. Sign up for an account to see how your visitors are sharing your content--which services they're using for sharing, which content is shared the most, and more. It's all free--even the pretty charts and graphs. Fancybox - You've seen Lightbox in action on any number of websites, including Facebook. This plugin enables fancybox 1.2.6, on all image links including BMP, GIF, JPG, JPEG, and PNG links to give your visitors the ability to view an enlargement by just clicking the image in the post. emObA - Automatically obfuscates any email address typed into a post, protecting your own email and those of anyone else whose email you include in a post from spammers without any extra effort on your part.

More Helpful Plugins
TAC (Theme Authenticity Checker) - TAC scans all of your theme files for potentially malicious or unwanted code. !

Threat Scan Plugin - A simple scan of the Wordpress Content and Database looking for possible threats.

Image Management and Slideshows:
Open external links in a new window - Opens all external links in a new window. XHTML Strict compliant and search engine optimized (SEO). This relieves you of the task of adding the target="_blank" code to your links. Causing external links to open in a new window keeps your blog open in the visitor's browser so they can return to it easily. Without opening in a new window they tend to move on and forget to return to you! Add Linked Images To Gallery - Examines the text of a post and makes local copies of all the images linked though IMG tags, adding them as gallery attachments on the post itself. Very handy! WP - Reduces image file sizes and improve performance automatically. **Optimizing your images for the web is the subject of a whole new workshop (which I hope to start presenting soon). It's so easy to ruin the appearance of your beautiful art when attempting it without really understanding what you're doing. This plugin will reduce the size of your images automatically without damaging their appearance, making blogs with lots of images load and run much faster. The only catch is that it can't work with images that are over 2Mb to begin with, so if you try to upload one larger than that, you'll get an error. When necessary, I reduce the size of images to a maximum dimension of 1200px or so before uploading. Remember to save the file in full quality or you defeat the purpose of this very nice plugin! Also remember to give the plugin time to resize your images before trying to work with them, particularly if you've uploaded a number of larger ones. Work on something else for a few minutes while it Smushes your images. Slideshows: The NextGen Gallery is a very popular plugin used to create slideshows from a special NextGen image library the plugin creates when installed. It's very handy and has many associated plugins to extend the flexibility you have in displaying your images. However, it's very code-heavy and can make your blog start to load slowly if you use it a lot. There's another one that's even easier to use called SlidePress, a plugin you can use to create much nicer galleries with less weight on code, and which automatically uses the images you've uploaded from within the post editing page to automatically create a slideshow from the images associated with that post... The only catch is that you need to upload one special file to make it work. If you're interested in this, you're in luck! I have this file and the terms of use allow me to share it. If you would like to use SlidePress, please contact me and for a very modest price I'll send you the file and instructions on how to use the SlidePress plugin. NextGEN Gallery - A NextGENeration Photo Gallery for WordPress Recommended to use with NextGEN: JJ NextGen Unload - Prevents NextGen Gallery scripts and style from loading in to header. Useful if you don't want to use the NextGen Widgets. (This helps your blog load faster by deactivating parts of NextGEN's code you're not using) SlidePress - Create and manage SlideShowPro galleries from within WordPress.

Do you use YouTube? Try these:
TubePress - Displays gorgeous YouTube and Vimeo galleries in your posts, pages, and/or sidebar. wordTube - This plugin manages the JW FLV MEDIA PLAYER 5.0 and makes it easy for you to put music, videos or flash movies onto your WordPress posts and pages. Various skins for the JW PLAYER are available via (You do have to have files which require a purchase to use this plugin. The prices are reasonable and if you want to use them, please contact me for more information.) Search Engine Optimization: All-In-One SEO Pack - If you're using your categories and tags properly and have AddThis sharing enabled on your blog, SEO plugins shouldn't be necessary, but this is a helpful plugin you can use if you desire.

To check out or register for Hosting Services with IPOWER: Hannah West Design - Getting Started Page Full Disclosure: I do have an affiliate relationship with IPOWER and if you sign up for your hosting service with them Iʼll get a commission. Iʼve been with them since 2003 and have never had any problems that sent me looking for anyone else. I had a bunch of other hosts listed on this page for a while but eventually took them down since I really didnʼt have any experience with the other companies, and my experience with IPOWER has been good. Their prices are reasonable, you get lots of extras and their WordPress installations are simple and easy to use. WordPress Theme Browser: SOAR: Main Directory site - Art Matters! blog - listing page: Sure, I could go on and on, but after eight pages, I think thatʼs all you need to get a good solid start! It was so nice to meet you! If you need help with anything, always feel free to contact me for a consultation. Good Luck, and Happy Blogging!