Your Message Matters & Your Blog Design Does Too!

It's not just about your words, it's also about the overall feeling of your blog. The fact is, if it isn't pleasing to the eye, isn't organized well, you're losing readers. Don't let the overwhelm of designing your blog stress you out! It's easier than you think to set up a pretty and functional blog. 

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Navigating Your WordPress Dashboard: Posts

Are you new to WordPress? Maybe you’re switching from blogger or another blogging platform, or possibly you’re brand new to blogging period. Whatever the case, if you’re new to WP then you might be thoroughly confused by the backend of your website. This is completely normal and to be expected with something new.

I promise it’ll make sense once you get toured through WP. Let’s have a look at the Posts section in your dashboard today. Tomorrow we’ll look at the Media section and we’ll work our way down the lefthand side of the dashboard until we land on Settings.

WP Dashboard Homepage

This is the page you’ll see when you first log into your blog. It’s a snapshot of what you can do inside of your dashboard. Honestly, I never use this page. But, I feel it important to point it out, as it’s the first you’ll see when you log in.

You can click the image below to enlarge it. This page will have links to click to customize your site, write a blog post, manage widgets and more. But once you know where to find all of that inside your dashboard, I doubt you’ll use this page.

This is the heart of the blog, the posts section. You’ll be using this part of the dashboard anytime you come in to write a blog post.

As you can see, you simply click on the “posts” link and it’ll open up the sub-menu with the “all posts” – which is an overview of your current posts – “add new” – which is where you write a new post – “categories” – which is where you’ll set up your blog categories – and “tags” – which is where you’ll set up your tags.

Click on the “add new” link under “posts” on the lefthand side of your dashboard to write your post. You’ll add a title, add your text and any media you want to add, choose a category (which I’ll show you how to create later in this post), add any tags, set your feature image, and if you have an SEO plugin, you’ll add your SEO and then hit publish.

Click the image to enlarge it.

This is a super important part of your blog. You’ll want to set up categories that are straight to the point. You want them to make clear sense for your readers. You might also want to consider breaking up your main categories into sub-categories. For example, I have a category called WordPress, which I have made my parent category to WordPress Plugins. This helps keep things organized for you on the backend.

To add a category simple choose a name for your category, then choose if it has a parent category, add a description if you’d like, and then hit “add new category”.

Tags aren’t completely necessary but if you’d like to add some tags you’ll simply click on the “tags” link under the posts section.

Just add the tags, a description if you’d like, and hit “add new tag”. I use tags occasionally. Like, in this post I used “wordpress dashboard” as I’m not going to make that a category, but want a way for people to search the tags if they’re interested in reading more posts with that tag, should I write them.

Okay, that wasn’t too overwhelming, was it? I promise it’ll get easier the more you use your WP blog. As not to overwhelm you with too much information at once, we’ll start the next WordPress Dashboard post tomorrow, in which we’ll talk about “Media”, “Pages”, and “Comments”.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section of the blog. I’m happy to help as best I can.

Pinterest: Highlighting Boards

You might have seen it, those business accounts that have some boards highlighted on their main profile page. And you may have wondered how to do this. I tell you, I searched high and low and couldn’t find the answer. I looked for myself in my account area many times and somehow overlooked the area more than once. They don’t make it easy to notice with how busy the account page is. But I found it and am sharing how in the quick video below.

If you’d like an even quicker how-to than watching the video you can follow these steps.

Step one: log into your Pinterest profile

Step two: hover over your little profile picture over in the upper right-hand side of the site, which will open up options for you to choose. click on the settings link.

Step three: scroll down the page, stopping right under the area where you can update your picture, username, and about section.

Step four: click the edit button next to the showcase.

Step six: click the drop-down box next to each slot, choosing the boards you want to highlight, and hit save. Easy as that!

Want to watch me in real-time? Click the video below to watch me go through the process.

WP Plugins Series: Simple Social Icons

My absolute favorite part of WordPress is the endless kinds of plugins you can install and use on your blog.

Everything from newsletter boxes to social icons, to backend tools for SEO, or spam control etc. They’re almost always free. Bonus!

But, how do you find them, then download and activate them, and set them up?

If you’re new to WordPress then you might not know how to do this. It’s like second nature for me now, as I’ve been working with WordPress since 2007 – but there was a time they’re confusing and frustrating.

I’m starting a blog series here called WP Plugins – where I walk you step-by-step through using plugins for your blog.

We’re starting with Simple Social Icons, one of my favorite plugins to use. It’s user-friendly, and super easy once you get the hang of it.

(screenshot of what it can look like after setting it up.)

What is Simple Social Icons?

Simply put (like how I did that?) it’s a plugin that allows you to display social icons on your website. You can control the size, placement, and color of them with this plugin and it includes the most popular, and even some lesser popular sites that you might be part of and want to promote on your site.

Let’s jump in!

Step One: You’ll want to be logged into the admin area of your site, which is just the backend where you add a post, or page, can install plugins, and mess around with widgets etc.

Step Two: You’ll go to Plugins on the lefthand side of your dashboard.

Step Three: Then go to “add new”.

Step Four: Click on “add new” button and then search for Simple Social Icons in the search bar.

Step Five: Click on install now button and then click activate

Step Five: Go to widgets

Step Six: Find the Simple Social Icons widget – you might have to scroll toward the bottom of your page.

Step Seven: Click on the Simple Social Icons widget to open up the menu links. Then choose whichever widget location you want the plugin to show up on — most people display it in their main sidebar.

Step Eight: Change the title to whatever you’d like it to say. I usually choose “Let’s Connect” or something along those lines but you can choose whatever verbiage you’d like that lets people know right away that these are your social media icons.

Step Nine: Click on “open links in new window”.

Step Ten: Adjust the sizing of the icons. You can play around with this and decide which size you’d like to use. I typically choose size 42 icon size.

Step Eleven: Choose your alignment to whichever direction you want it to display – I usually choose center.

Step Twelve: Change the icon color, hover color, background color, etc… to whichever colors match best with your blog site.

Bonus: Download the free colorzilla color picker for Chrome or Firefox to easily grab colors from your site and input the code in the Simple Social Icon sections for changing the colors.

Step Thirteen: You’re all done with the customizing steps – now, just add your social media links and save the changes and you’re all done!

Please note – you need to add your special links – not the main links in my screenshots. So, if your name is happymommyblogger on Instagram your link will look like instagram.com/happymommyblogger

Success – you’ve set up Simple Social Icons plugin on your site!

Now your blog readers can easily click to follow you on your favorite social media sites! If you’re more of a visual learner, I have a quick video tutorial below you can watch that’ll walk you through these steps.