Everyday new people begin to use WordPress for the first time. Since I joined in March the number of WordPress blogs has gone from 2.5 to 3.6 million. I imagine there are also those users who have used WordPress for a while now, but do not take advantage of all the features. I would like to share a few tips and tricks that have made my use of WordPress more useful and enjoyable.
On the WordPress main page (wordpress.com) there is a list on the right hand side of topics. If you were to click on “religion” you would see a list of items recently posted under the category religion. You would also see a more detailed list of related topics, such as Christianity, faith, Bible, God, Jesus, and so on. This is one way of browsing topics of interest. Another way is from your Dashboard. At the top of your Dashboard (and I’m talking to people I assume have WordPress accounts) there is a button labeled “tag surfer.” Tag surfer is also an option under the “My Account” tab always at the top of your page when signed in. Tag surfer keeps up with tags that you use when posting, and lists related posts. You can x out tags you don’t want searched for, or add tags you would like to see. Reading related blogs and leaving comments can drive traffic your way, especially if your blog is new and relatively unknown.
In previous posts I’ve suggested looking into RSS (Really Simple Syndication). A feed reader, such as Google, Bloglines or Technorati, acts like a file cabinet for blogs that you subscribe to. In my right sidebar is a list of readers that you can easily direct my blog feed to. RSS can deliver blog posts, news, sports and weather, even follow comment threads on individual posts. The advantage of a reader is that it automatically updates when a blog you subscribe to posts something new. You don’t have to visit each blog you read to see if they have new content up or not. WordPress FAQ can help you learn more.
There are many different themes for designing your page, and I took advantage of the custom header design feature, which many themes support. WordPress will crop and size any image you have to fit the header space, making your blog design truly your own. I suggest shopping around by looking at other blogs. Misty Look is a very popular theme; I use Contempt. At the very bottom of the page, a WordPress blog will tell you what theme you are looking at. Some features work differently with various themes, so it might be something you have to play with to find out what you like. For instance, I don’t list pages in my sidebar because Contempt automatically lists them across the top.
I’ve said before that I blog for me; it’s like therapy, and I would continue writing even if no one read it at all. If you want to get good, here are few pieces of advice: 1) Read twice (or three times) as much as you write. Reading other blogs, written by people who write better than you, should make your writing better. 2) Post on a regular basis. I know I don’t always do it, but I try to write at least every other day. These guys that post 3 or 4 times a day have great blogs, I just don’t know what they do for a living. 3) Have a healthy blogroll, a list of blogs you enjoy reading. Chances are your readers might enjoy those same ones. 4) Link to other blogs and/or websites. If you read a good article you want to share with others, give a short quote and link to it. Don’t just steal someone else’s stuff and repost it. Along with a decent blogroll, these will make your blog a portal to other places on the web, and make visiting your blog something to look forward to. 5) Blog on things recent or relevant in the news or goings on. This will attract search engine users to your site. My posts on Outrigger Island (this summer’s vbs) have attracted over 1,000 hits from people searching the web for vbs ideas in general and Outrigger Island in particular. 6) List your blog on sites like Blog Catalog or Technorati. Many sites will list your blog for free, and some will even sell you ad space. 7) Remember that what you put on the internet is accessible worldwide, and will stay around for a long time. Deleting a thought, comment or photo from your website will not make it disappear. It could still be viewed by search engines for months, and if another user copies and reposts, it’s out of your hands forever.
These are just of few of the things that have helped me the past few months as I’ve learned to blog. Some I was taught, others I learned the hard way. If you write interesting stuff on a regular (or at least a somewhat regular) basis, your audience will grow. Do you have advice of your own to share, or perhaps a question or two? Hit me up with a comment and let’s rap.
One more thing: even as I’m posting this, WordPress has just released version 2.6. I haven’t upgraded yet, but my friends at A Small Faith have and did so with ease. Click here to watch a short video on 2.6 features.