Learn WordPress

Chalkboard with a Lesson

Learning WordPress has just become easier. WordPress has launched a new site, Learn WordPress, directed at WordPress.com users, those whose site is hosted by WordPress. WordPress.com sites are free and have limited but often adequate features. You then pay WordPress people to fix and refine your site if it needs it, or to add more features.

I host sites on my server independently of the WordPress.com site, using the same software but with higher capability and more options. But understanding those options can be confusing. That is exactly why Learn WordPress is helpful. It explains the basics without confusing you with all the possibilities and pitfalls and things you may never want or need to know.

Learn WordPress Concepts

The first key to learning anything is understanding the concept, the idea. What does this do? What is it? And how does it work?  The Learn WordPress website gives you the essentials in Plain English — a rare commodity as soon  as anyone says, “software.”

In addition to help when you are starting from basics, some pages will always be useful. The Glossary explains blogs, carousels, categories, pages and posts, responsive themes, etc.  Get Flashy explains widgets, the little boxes that can be added to sidebar to add images, slide shows, search boxes, subscription forms, etc.

The Get Configured page lists resources to find images. Images are very important on websites and the perfect images takes time to find. It can be useful to find the images you want to use without paying  by the hour for a designer to look for them.

Testing WordPress

It might also be helpful to set up a WordPress.com site for yourself as a test, even if you are going to hire me to design and host your site. It’s a good way to learn so you can update your contact information and text  information quickly and less expensively after I set up the site.  Then I can manage the software upgrades, add capabilities, do monthly maintenance, and trouble shoot.

Logo from WP Beginner

If you intend to take over your site completely this is a good site for leaning how to manage it: WPBeginner: A Beginner’s Guide for WordPress.

 

Favorite WordPress Plugins

If you have favorite WordPress plugins, the ones you use on all your sites, download them to your computer, put them all in zip archive. Then you can upload them and have them all ready to use.

 

Why a Newsletter Blog?

Woman reading newsletterNewsletters on your website are a better choice than printed or even emailed newsletters. The “issues” or  entries stay posted on your website easily accessible for as long as you like. A newsletter on a website can be indexed by search engines to be found by people who never heard of you.  Notice of new issues can be sent automatically.

Printed and eMail Newsletter Downsides

Printed newsletters are normally planned for a certain size and length and with special features for each issue—a calendar of events, a cute quote, a joke, a feature story, news items. All these have to come together at once and get to the printer in order to meet deadlines for timely publication. Then they have to be distributed. Mailing is expensive. Address changes difficult to maintain.

An email newsletter with a predetermined format will still have to meet the same content expectations, plus being prepared by someone who understands the format and the software. Most newsletters, distributed in print or by email, have become uneconomical and of questionable value given the amount of time, effort, and coördination they take to produce.

What Exactly Is a WordPress Blog?

The letters Blog with a globe replacing the OBlog is short for Web Log. Blogs began as online diaries in which writers posted their thoughts and opinions with discipline and openness. A serious blogger wrote every day and was followed by other bloggers. For many of the early bloggers, who were writing before the easy to use Web existed, it became both a religion and a science.

WordPress is an online software that began for bloggers to easily write blog entries using a web browser. It is open source, which means available at no cost. It has developed over the years into a “content managing program,” a CPM, which is capable of doing many more things. It is essentially a file cabinet in the Cloud. It exists on a web servers somewhere.

A newsletter blog post is like posting a news item on a bulletin board or to a news feed than preparing a newsletter for publication. It has a singular focus and is relatively brief. (Mine are typically too long!) Posts are added to a website in chronological order but can be searched and sorted in multiple ways, like notecards.

A Blog Post Is Not an Email Message

A blog post is intended for a wide audience and for “posterity.” It becomes part of the historical record, not just an announcement or press release that will be thrown away. They can be published on a schedule or spontaneously. A calendar of events for the next month might be posted on a regular date, and posts announcing births or other happenings as they occur. Posts on special topics can be posted when completed—Planning a Garden, New Lamps, etc.—or scheduled for later publication.

Blogs Convey Continuity

A blog post is part of a continuous process. Each post is a reminder of the last and the next. That continuity is established more easily than with a newsletter because each post is complete within itself but the blog is “never-ending.” Its past is always present.

Blogs Can Be Spontaneous and Informal

With the ability to post frequently, not all information needs to be collected before announcing an exciting event or be copy edited and perfect. It can be one short paragraph informally jotted down. Who wants to know about a baby born a month ago when it can be announced within minutes? So what if there is no name yet? It can be sent when available. Distribution is essentially free so three short posts can be sent as easily as one long. Frequency can be irritating, but sometimes it is a welcome virtue.

A blog post can be quickly written and distributed with little extra cost beyond maintaining a website (which you should already be doing.)

 Wordpress

Wordpress logoI use WordPress because it is free, well-designed, constantly updated, and used by millions of  other people worldwide. I can always find advice. It can be used on your own website under your own domain or on the WordPress.com website where WordPress will host a blog for you. It is easy to learn by anyone familiar with word-processing program and the web.

What the software does is set up a framework for organizing and sharing information. Think of each news item as an individual snippet. WordPress helps you organize each snippet chronologically and by author, title, date, subject, keywords, etc.  The snippet can always be found by searching any of those elements.

WordPress also keeps track of subscribers so you can distribute these news items as they are published or weekly or monthly. Any schedule you choose. It does many more things but in terms of replacing printed or email newsletters with a blog, these are some of the main advantages.

Smashing Magazine

Smashing Magazine LogoSmashing Magazine is simply smashing. Articles on coding, design, graphics, and WordPress and other CMS programs and software.

Beautiful, helpful, indispensable. An essential email newsletter, a library, workshops, job board, etc. More than I can ever remember.