Last week we went over starting your blog, and the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Now is the time to add even more personality to your blog with plugins, a sidebar and finally, your stellar content.
Plugins are additional ways to customize your blog or website. They are useful, and provide additional functions that you need. Some of the more widely used ones are SEO plugins that all you to fill out meta descriptions and tags to quickly and easily optimize each post and Zemanta which will help you link all your posts for more backlinks. You may also choose to add a shopping cart, contact form or just about anything else you need for your business. There are also plugins that will help you optimize your site for mobile viewing, add social network sharing buttons, and back up your site to protect it. This is by no means all that plugins can do for you. WordPress has a very extensive plugin directory for you to look through. To install a plugin, go to your Dashboard and under the Plugin tab, go to Add New and you will be able to search plugins. Click install now when you find what you are looking for. The installed plugins will appear under your Installed Plugins tab, and you just need to make sure they are activated.
This is the column on the side, either right or left, where many bloggers list search bars, profiles, RSS feed buttons, tag clouds and post categories to help you find posts easier. These are called widgets, and will allow you to customize your sidebar. There seems to be a fine line between not enough widgets and too many. Not enough, and you may be losing out and providing valuable and helpful info for your readers. Too many, and you risk over-crowding and cluttering your sidebar. Among of the many widgets you can add to your own sidebar that may be good for a business blog are buttons for social sharing, mailing list sign up box, blog history and a calendar for events. You may also want to add a “best of” list of your posts and a search bar. If you are creating a basic website rather than a blog, you can still add your social sharing buttons, an email me button and a mailing list box. To add or delete widgets, go to your Appearance tab in your Dashboard. You will see many available widgets, and you will just need to drag and drop them into your sidebar. You can adjust the order in your sidebar. There will also be a HTML widget if you wish to add the code for widgets you get elsewhere, such as a Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook button.
Once you have your blog or site set up to your liking you are ready to add content and go live. There are two types of content: pages and posts. Pages are usually static and give your reader information about you and your business that are typically labeled as Home, About, Services, Contact and Blog. Posts are the content that changes often, like on a blog. Posts can be categorized and tagged to make it easier for readers to find information they are looking for. Categories are general topics and tags are much more specific. When adding a page or post, click on Add New and fill in your content. You can preview, add images, links and bullets, very similar to using Word. Once you are satisfied, click the Publish button on the right and you’re done! WordPress is one of the most popular website and blogging platforms because it’s easy, simple and it works. Our quick guide on WordPress basics should be able to get you started with your own website.