Getting Started with WordPress – Updating your own site

Find out about Maestra's New WordPress Starter Kit!Congratulations, this is your hour! Your WordPress site is up and running and you are ready to  edit your text and visuals and to populate new pages with your content!

When I say “hour”, I am talking about the HOUR you should take to read this, watch a few videos, and familiarize yourself with your WordPress Dashboard and Posts/Pages editing window. This is key to your success, and, trust me, it will save you MANY hours in the long run if you slow down and learn the basics first.

So, let’s get started.

Wordpress Login1. Logging in to your WordPress Dashboard

You should have a WordPress login address, username and password. If you don’t, ask whoever set up your site to send it to you.

The first thing you see upon logging in is either your homepage (with a grey WordPress bar at the top) or your WordPress Dashboard. You want the Dashboard, so if you see the homepage, click the title of your site at the TOP LEFT of the grey bar.

2. Adding a Page and editing the text

Once you’re into your Dashboard, look at the left-side menu. “Posts” refers to dated blog postings, which are traditionally listed on a blog page with the most recent at the top. Blog posts include current, more dynamic content, like current news, reviews or events. Static “Pages” on the other hand, include information that stays pretty much the same over time, like your Biography, Repertoire List or Contact information.

To edit your static “Pages” click Pages > All Pages, and select the title of the Page you want to edit. Or click Pages > Add New to create a new page for your site.

Here’s a helpful 5 minute video to get you started:

3. Cautionary Words about adding Text and Images in WordPress

Firstly, before you copy text into the WordPress edit window, it’s a good idea to copy it into a non-formatted text editor like Notepad or save it as a txt file before you copy the text. That will strip it of formatting code from whatever program you used to write it. You want your formatting (fonts, text sizes, margins etc) to come from the stylesheets (CSS) in your WordPress design, which will keep everything looking consistent.

Secondly, remember to “Save Draft” your Pages and Posts and Preview them to see what the formatting will look like before you Publish. The edit window only gives you basic default viewing options (usually showing everything in Times New Roman), it does not show you exactly what your text will look like once it’s viewed with the site’s stylesheets in effect.

Edit windowThirdly, once you have copied your text into the window, you may want to use Headings. I highly recommend breaking longer text into sections and titling the sections to make your content more scan-able and digestible. You can use the Heading settings that are already available in your site by Highlighting the text, clicking the Kitchen Sink button in your edit window, and then click Format and a dropdown of options will appear:

4. Changing or adding images to a page or post

The video above shows you how easy it is to add images and place them within your text. One of the great things about WordPress is that it resizes image files for you, so when you select the 300-pixel-wide option (usually a good choice, as it allows room for text to flow beside the image), the image to be downloaded is actually only this big. Ergo, your page loads faster! Yay!

But wait, there is cause for pause. By default, WordPress also makes your inline image link to the original image file you uploaded. If your original image is gigantic, it will be an annoying download for people who unsuspectingly click on the image. If your original is the basically the same size as the inline image, well then there’s no point opening a new one by clicking on it, is there?

My suggestion is to remove links from your images unless they are useful (ie: they open a reasonably sized original image that people might like to see). Here’s a wee silent movie to illustrate how to remove links from images:

There’s a lot more to explore with WordPress – photo galleries, links, plugins, widgets – and I’ll cover everything over the next few posts. If you want to learn more in the meantime, check out this helpful playlist of Bluehost WordPress tutorials on YouTube.

Let me know in a comment below if there are other topics you’d like me to cover!

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