Part V-Twitterpated

This is the fifth of a five-part series for newbies to WordPress.

*See Definition of Technical Terms


Are you twitterpated, or smitten, with *social media?  If so you will really love the way your new blog or website will be able to incorporate all your social connections.  Actually my first suggestion before delving into adding social media resources and links to your site is to decide on which social media resources you want to add, and if they are new to get those set up separately first.  Facebook (pages for Facebook if your site is a business site) and Twitter are the most common social media applications.  I also use Pinterest and Flickr, and have a link for my Etsy site.  It did take some time to get each of those properly set up before the information from them could be added to my website, but it was well worth the effort, so have fun and enjoy the process! (Update 4/1/14-My site is now set up differently, still learning how to integrate various forms of social media into my site is crucial.)

*Social Media ~ refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Examples are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

Once all your social media accounts are set up, you will want to do several things.  First, as mentioned in the last WordPress article, you will probably want to add links to some of your social media sites via your widgets.  Check your available widgets to see if what you need is already there, and if not add via a new plug-in.  Two of my favorites are “Pretty_Pinterest_Pins” and “Javascript Flickr Badge”.   These are great for displaying my photos from Pinterest and Flickr.  You even have options to set these up to only display pins from particular boards or photos from select folders.

You will also want to add a social widget (again if not already installed) that will allow you to display *icons that link to your social media sites.  The social widget allows you to select a category, establish/order/limit your icons, and show icon images.  You will see these in the top-right corner of my website.  There are so many great icons available, some free and some for purchase.  I purchased my custom chalkboard social media icons via Etsy seller ShinyMagic.  Be sure when making your choice to select icons that have several sizes available, in case after installation you realize that you really needed something larger/smaller.  The icons you choose will need to be added to your *media library via your site’s dashboard.  Open your media library, select “add new”, and drag your new icons into the “drop files here” box, or select  the “upload new media” choice.

*Icons-Picture, image or other representation
*Media Library – WordPress online library for stored images/photos

And, just so you know, this is a three-part process!  After you have both your social widget and social media icons installed, you will still need to establish your links to your social media sites.  This is done via the “links” menu in your dashboard.  Click “add new” and for each social media you want linked add the name, the category “social”, the rating or order you want them in, and the actual link to your social media site.  Now double-check your actual page to make sure your social media icons are linking correctly to your external social media sites.

The last social media item you will want to include on your site is a way for any readers of your posts or pages to easily share your information within their own social media, or via a bookmark, message or email.  This can be done via an “Add to Any Sharing” widget.  This widget by Lockerz is a great all-inclusive sharing platform, and makes it easy for visitors to share your content using any service.  This results in:

  • More traffic
  • Easy distribution
  • Better rankings
  • Extended reach

“Add to Any Sharing” will show up under your “settings” section via your dashboard once installed.  It can then be accessed and configured as you choose.  Looking for another way to share?  Check out this Smashing Magazine blog with suggestions.


When it comes to adding media to your site, WordPress has recently made that process easier.  To add photos, simple open your “media library” site and again select “add new”, where you can drop in photos from your desktop.  Photos must be kept to a maximum size of 2MB.  Once added to the library, you can enter the photo’s title, any text, and can save to a preferred size.  When creating a new post, you will see a box to “add media”.  Photos already in your media library will pop up, and you can choose a photo already saved, or upload new files.  Via the menu on the left, you can also set a featured image or create a gallery of photos.  Practice and play with these features to get just the look you are after!

WordPress-Be a Nerd



Part III-Be A Nerd

This is the third of a five-part series for newbies to WordPress.  Be sure to join me each Monday for the next three weeks to learn how to set up a WordPress site.

*See Definition of Technical Terms

So now that you have chosen a domain name and host provider, and have selected a theme, it’s time to become a nerd and get that website or blog started! I don’t know about you, but for the most part I am a firm believer in reading instructions, particularly when stepping into unknown territory. That definitely being the case with WordPress, my best recommendation is to thoroughly read the WordPress.org site’s “Getting Started with WordPress” section for Beginners. Bookmark this site, create a new tab in your browser, and login to the “administration area” of your newly created WordPress site. You do this by adding “wp-admin” after your domain name (e.g. http://example.com/wp-admin). You can also place “login” after your domain name in more current versions of WordPress. Now you will be able to go back and forth between the two sites as you are learning. Be sure to also bookmark your WordPress login page for future use.

Once logged in, you will see your *dashboard; this is the place where all the creating happens! As the WordPress.org site says, this is where you will be spending a lot of time over the next few hours, weeks, months – so take the time to go through the sections and set your site up the way you want it. Take a sheet of plain paper and make notes of other websites that you admire when setting up the structure for your own site. What do you like about them? Not like? Do you like the look of the backgrounds used, how the footer sections look, how photography is presented, the types of information provided in the sidebar? How are links used for *social media on other sites? Think about the different names/types of pages you might like to have. Time invested now will mean fewer changes to your new site later.

*Dashboard ~ a collection of information and data about the activities and actions on your WordPress site.
*Social Media ~ refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Examples are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

While in your dashboard you will be able to quickly toggle back and forth to see the changes you are making to your site by clicking on your website name in the top left corner, directly above “dashboard”. Your main navigation menu runs along the left side of the dashboard, and will allow you to create posts, insert media (photos, videos), apply links for your social media, and set up your pages. Your chosen theme will also have an entire set of choices for you, allowing you to further customize your site. You will be working in “settings” a great deal as you begin. As you work through the WordPress.org instructions, be sure to open up suggested links as they appear to focus on setting up specific areas of your site.

One of the first *plug-ins you might want to install is Askimet, which helps protect your site from spam. This plug-in is available free for personal sites, with a low monthly subscription cost for business sites. There will be many types of free plug-ins that can be added once your basic site is set up.

*Plug-Ins ~ Plugins add function and sometimes fun to your site. There are hundreds of different plugins from adding custom links like related articles to your sidebar to adding weather reports.

If you run into issues with the way your pages or posts look, you can often find help in the WordPress forums, or in your chosen theme’s online forum pages. This is where your earlier selection of a theme with great customer support is invaluable. In the past they have helped me with specific code that needed to be placed either into my theme, or added to the page or post I was working on to make it look the way I wanted it to. Be sure, when creating your first post, to click on the “text” box tab next to the “visual” box default tab in the top-right corner of the post. You may not have any desire to learn *hyper-text markup language (html) coding, but it helps to see the language that web pages are written in. And after some time, you will want to know how to go into this “text” box tab on your posts to make specific alterations. Here are several sources that might help with your website terminology along the way:
Glossary of Blogging
Computer Technical Terms
HTML Quick Codes

*Hyper-Text Markup Language (html) ~ the language web pages are written in.

Just remember, this is a constant learning adventure. The solutions are out there if you are persistent, and lots of help is available online or perhaps through your more tech savvy friends. Next week I will discuss the importance of widgets to your site – much more fun than the basic setup – I promise!

WordPress-Explore Strange New Worlds


Part I-Explore Strange New Worlds

This is the first of a five-part series for newbies to WordPress.  Be sure to join me each Monday for the next four weeks to learn how to set up a WordPress site.

*See Definition of Technical Terms

Have you seriously entertained the idea of having a blog*, but start to shake at the thought of having to learn yet more computer stuff?  Do all those tech words leave you glary-eyed at just the thought of really having to comprehend them?  Then you are certainly not alone.  I felt this way for quite some time before deciding that my business was pushing me to move forward, to go, as the Star Trek phrase puts it, to “the final frontier…to explore strange new worlds”.  The thought was both scary and exhilarating at the same time!  I told myself, “I can DO this”.  And so I did, and so can you.

*Blog-Web site containing the writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other Web sites.

First I’d like to write a word about where to blog.  If all you really want/need is something simple, then I understand that Blogger might be perfect for you.   I say understand because personally I have not used it, but rather went directly to WordPress to start my website, as I read it was more customizable.  I also was really hopeful about adding some e-commerce, or online selling to my site, and wanted software that would be powerful enough to handle that facet of my business.  I knew that even if I was not able to include the e-commerce portion, that I wanted to be able to add it at a later date.  And so my research began.

There are two types of WordPress sites, those created on WordPress.com and those created via WordPress.org.  WordPress.com sites are hosted* on their server*, and are free.  Free, however, does have its limitations, including the fact that you are limited to the amount of storage you can have, and you will be unable to fully customize your site.  There are also rules about having ads on your blog.  The second option, and the one I chose, was to use WordPress.org, which meant I would have to pay a third party to host my site on their server at about $5-$10 per month,  and would have to purchase my own domain* name for about $10 a year.

*Host/Server-the business of providing various services, hardware, and software for Web sites, as storage and maintenance of site files on a server.
*Domain- a unique name, corresponding to one or more numeric IP addresses, used to identify a particular web page or set of web pages on the internet

So What’s in a Name?

Everything, really!  In my case I had actually reserved a domain name several years earlier, so had that part taken care of.  You will need to find a host for your site, and can make your purchase of a domain name through them.  There are many good host services out there.  My site is hosted through IX Web Hosting (http://www.ixwebhosting.com/).   I did a little research on good host sites, and read nice reviews on this one.  I must say I have been very pleased with them.  I have been able to phone them 24/7, which is so important when you are learning and need great support from the company that will be hosting your website.   Their staff members have always been extremely pleasant, no matter how ridiculous I’m sure some of my questions have been to them.   Whatever company you decide to go with, make sure they have good customer service.

If you already have a business, you might be surprised to find your business name already being used as a domain name, in which case you will need to choose a different, perhaps similar, name for your website.  A great place to check for domain names, as well as social media names, is Name Chk.  It’s probably also a good idea to look online at http://tess2.uspto.gov/to make sure your chosen domain name is not currently being used as any type of trademark, because you don’t need any kind of infringement issues.   If you don’t have a business but just want to create a blog, you should have more options for a domain name that is not already registered.  Be prepared, either way, to go through several name choices before finding one that is available.  The problem here is that there are folks who purchase domain names to later sell them, which can make finding a good name more difficult.  Be patient if your first choice is not available, there are still lots of good domain names out there!  If you are just doing research now and don’t want a website until later, you might want to at least register a domain name you like – if it’s currently available – so that you will have it at a later date.  That’s what I did several years ago.

So now that you have a domain name and a host, it’s time to install WordPress to your host’s server and select a theme.  We’ll discuss that next week in Part II of this series.