Once you have your new WordPress site up and running, you’ll spend the majority of your time on the site adding content. Depending on your industry, niche, and type of business, your content could be:
You may have a combination of all three. Let’s review the different content forms, and how to add them to WordPress.
Pages and Posts
WordPress offers two types of written content: Pages and Posts. It is unfortunate they chose the name “pages” because it causes endless confusion. A WordPress page is not the “page” that you see in your browser window when you click a link or type in a URL.
To lower the confusion level, we’ll use page (in bold type) when referring to a WordPress “page.” A non-bolded page refers to a web page, what you see in your browser.
A little background information might help here.
WordPress is a CMS (content management system). That means it takes different content assets and puts them together to create a web page. Those content assets can include pages and posts, as well as images, audio, video, sidebars, headings, and footers.
For example, a traditional blog uses a heading, a sidebar, post(s), and often a footer. Within the post you may also find images, audio, or video.
When you visit a blog page, you’ll usually see several shortened posts, or excerpts, with “read more” links after a few lines of text. Clicking the link takes you to a web page displaying the complete post.
Unlike a page of print, though, that blog page with the excerpts is created by WordPress on the fly. Programming language tells the CMS to show a heading, sidebar(s), footer and a predetermined number of words or lines of the most recently created posts, with the appropriate “read more” links after each one.
That’s good for you, the site owner, because you don’t have to do anything to create that web page. Otherwise, every time you added a new post, you’d have to recreate that page!
It’s good for the reader, because the reader automatically sees the most recent post excerpts.
And it all happens automatically, behind the scenes.
Depending on what the reader clicks, WordPress serves up a web page that includes the appropriate content.
Page or Post – What’s the Difference?
A page and a post can each be part of a web page. They may even look identical, or nearly identical.
The difference is in the details of how WordPress handles them.
Chronology matters with posts. Blogs are normally displayed in reverse chronological order, with the newest at the top. They are timely.
Pages do not rely on chronology. Their content is usually timeless, or evergreen.
You can classify posts by adding tags and categories. Not so with pages. Instead, you can assign hierarchy to a page.
Search engines like content that is fresh (posts), but they tend to consider timeless content (pages) as being more important.
What’s most important to keep in mind is how potential readers will find your content, whether it’s within a post or a page. We’ll go over some specific tools and techniques to address this later on.
How to Add a Page
To add a new page, log into your WordPress Dashboard. WordPress gives you two routes to add a page.
- At the top of the Dashboard, hover your mouse over the New link, then click Page. (Note that this menu may include different options depending on the theme and plugins you have installed.)
- Select Pages > Add New from the menu on the left side of the dashboard.
Either of these methods will take you to a screen that looks like this:
To add a new page, enter the title, then place your cursor in the editing box and start typing.
This is the new Gutenberg approach to creating content within WordPress.
Similar to how you can place different widgets in the sidebar and other areas of your blog, Gutenberg turns every part of your content into a block that can be moved around or even changed into other blog types.
Typical content blocks include Paragraph, Heading, List, Quote, Image or Separator.
The default of course is Paragraph – regular ‘ole text – so you can simply begin typing and composing your content. When you hit Enter, you’ll create a new block which again will automatically be a Paragraph.
As you’re editing your page, you’ll see little plus signs that appear to the left of a new block, or above any existing block if you mouse over it. This will allow you insert any of the dozens of different kinds of blocks. You’ll also see quick options for Heading, List and Image to the right.
While traditional WordPress users may find the Gutenberg approach cumbersome, it’s actually quite smooth for new users and, in particular, bloggers. This method allows you to focus on creating great content and ‘get it all down on paper.’ Not only can you easily adjust the formatting and type of block with ease, you can actually move them around by hovering your mouse to the left of any block. You can drag and drop, or use the up or down arrows to move a block through the rest of your content.
Once you’ve started a paragraph block, hovering your mouse over the block will reveal standard formating options for Alignment, Bold, Italic, Link and Strikethrough, with a menu of More Options.
If you’re comfortable with HTML, you can change any block by selecting Edit as HTML in the More Options menu. Otherwise, stick with the visual editor. Keep in mind, though, that toggling back and forth between them can cause odd things to happen, so stick with one or the other.
Additional options include inserting a new block Above or Below the current block, Duplicating it, Deleting it, or adding it to your Reusable blocks. Reusable blocks, as the name suggests, are blocks you can create once and then place them elsewhere easily throughout your blog.
One final note about blocks: additional block settings will appear in the Block widget to the right of your content. That’s where you can change the font size, color, and add advanced CSS classes.
As you type, save your work frequently, just as you would if you were creating a Word or other document, by clicking the Save Draft button on the right (do not rely on auto save). To see what it will look like to your readers, click Preview. And, when you’re finished, click the Publish button to make your page visible as a web page.
The Publish widget on the right shows you the status of your new page (Draft, Visibility Public) by default, but you can change those by clicking the link next to each one.
If you’re working with a team, you can change Draft status to “Pending Review.” Visibility can be either “Public,” “Password Protected” or “Private.”
Most likely you won’t change these very often. However, WordPress allows you to schedule the publishing of your page, which allows you to create your pages in advance and then publish at a predetermined time.
The default is to publish immediately. If you want to schedule a page, though, simply click “Immediately” and select the date and time.
The publishing date and time are based on the time zone you selected earlier on the Settings > General screen, so make sure it’s correct in that location!
Note that, once you’ve scheduled a post, the Publish button now says Schedule.
Click it to reschedule the post, and it now reads Update. If you make any changes after this time, make sure to save them by clicking the Update button.
How to Add a Post
Adding a post is very similar to adding a page. Select New > Post at the top of the Dashboard, or, in the sidebar menu, Post > Add New.
The editing screen looks almost identical, but with the addition of two widgets on the right: Categories and Tags.
You’ll need to create your categories (Posts > Categories menu), and then select the category or categories to apply to each post. Or create a new category while you’re working on your new post by clicking the Add New Category link at the bottom of the widget.
If you’ve followed the Blogging Startup Planner in planning your site, you will have already decided on a list of categories. I strongly recommend creating just 3 – 5 categories for your site and choosing just one category for each post you create. All of your blog content needs to fall within those preset categories if you’re to stay focused.
Tags can be created and added by typing a series of tags, separated by commas. Or you can select from most frequently used tags.
While it’s best to file your blog posts within just one category at a time, you can and should use multiple tags. And it’s OK to create new tags on fly, just so long as you’re careful not to create alternate versions of the same tag (i.e. “WordPress Basics” vs. “Basics of WordPress”).
Widgets and Widgetized Areas
See How To Use WordPress Themes for basic instructions on how to add a widget. Widgets can add goodness to the front end of your website (the part that readers see) or to the back end (the part that you see).
Deciding what widgets to add on the front end, and where, depends on how you want the site to look, and what functionality you want to add to what WordPress and your theme already provide.
Some, like contact or opt-in forms, provide a means to an end, in this case, allowing a reader to send you an email or to sign up to receive a newsletter or some other form of content. Others, like slideshow, enhance the look of the site and allow you showcase visual content.
Advertising and shopping provide revenue. Real estate listings attract traffic. Social sharing increases your audience.
If there’s something you want readers to be able to see or do on your site, chances are there’s a plugin for it.
How to Add Images to WordPress
WordPress has made it easy to add images. Before you start dropping images onto the site, though, it’s important that they be properly sized and optimized. Otherwise, your page will load more slowly than it needs to.
Editing Images Before Uploading
Before you begin to upload images, make sure they’re in the appropriate format. If your image has a transparent background, you must save it as a .png. Both .png and .jpg formats work well with photographs, though the .png file size will be larger. A .gif works fine for line drawings and vector images, but is not good for photos or drawings that include large areas of color. Animated gifs have become popular as well.
You should also have an image editing program you’re comfortable using to resize images. Photoshop is a terrific option once you overcome the learning curve, as it’s also a very powerful option (and with monthly cloud pricing available, it’s now quite affordable). On a Mac, Preview lets you size and scale for basic editing.
It’s important to size your images properly before you upload them to WordPress. If you upload overly large images — that is, images that are larger than what the web page can display — you slow the page load time and draw on unnecessary resources.
It’s important to size your images properly before you upload them to WordPress.
Each time you upload an image, WordPress automatically creates three image sizes (possibly more, depending on your theme). By default, it creates a thumbnail, medium and large size.
The thumbnail is the small image that you see on the blog excerpts page, like this:
The thumbnails are sized automatically, based on your theme settings or on the choices you make on the Settings > Media screen (the theme will override these).
This is a traditional approach to a blog thumbnail. However, recently more and more blogs have been using larger images in this position. Take a look at this — it might be a medium, or even a large image, depending on the theme, or the theme might provide a specialized size only for use on the blog excerpt page.
You can change these sizes, and some themes will override them entirely. Check your theme documentation to see the recommended image sizes for the theme you’re using. Before uploading an image, check to make sure it’s no larger than the largest size your theme will use.
Most images are not square but rectangular. They’re either in landscape or portrait mode. A landscape image is horizontal, meaning the width is greater than the height, while a portrait is vertical, with the height greater than the width.
Within a page or post, you can use portrait, landscape or square images, but thumbnails are a different story. If your theme uses the new, larger thumbnails, make sure those images are properly sized in landscape mode. Otherwise you’ll find parts of the images will be missing or, even worse, distorted.
Images should also be optimized for web use. You may be able to do this within your image-editing program, or you can install a plugin like WPSmushIt to optimize the images as you upload them. Or use TinyPNG to optimize both .png and .jpg images.
Uploading Images to the Media Library
Now that you’ve sized your images properly, it’s time to upload them. WordPress provides two ways to do this.
- Click Media > Add New in the left menu, or else New > Media at the top of the Dashboard.
- When the Upload New Media screen opens, drag and drop the file(s) onto the screen, or click the Select Files button and make your selection.
This is the simplest way to add multiple images at one time.
When I first started building the Blogging Brute blog, I sourced dozens and dozens of images from my own photography, renamed and edited them, and uploaded them in bulk. This gave me a rich library of media to choose from for featured images. As you browse through this blog, you’ll see that every featured image is from a location I’ve personally been to and photographed.
For single images, many users prefer to upload them from within the editing screen while working on a page or post. Click the Add Block button, choose Image, and select the image files, or position your cursor where you want the image to go, then select the image on your computer and drag it to that spot.
Images added this way are automatically added to the Media Library.
Add Meta Information
It’s always a good idea to give your image a meaningful name — one that’s helpful for both readers and search engines — instead of a string of letters and number. However, WordPress has your back in case you don’t.
When you upload the image, you’ll have the option to add a:
- Alt text
You can also set up the linking and image size.
WordPress fills in the URL, and you can’t change it. Place your cursor into each field, though, to add a title, caption, etc.
The most important piece of information here is the Alt Text. You can leave everything else blank if you choose, but the Alt Text tells the search engines about the image. It shows the same information to readers in case the image can’t be seen.
Scroll down to tell WordPress how you want the image displayed.
- Align it left (the following text wraps around it to the right), right (the following text wraps around it to the left), centered, or none (aligned left, but the following text starts below the image)
- Link to a larger version of the image (Media File), an Attachment Page or a Custom URL if you want the image to link to another article or website, or choose not to link
- Select Full Size, Thumbnail, or Medium — some themes provide additional choices
When you’ve finished your selections, click the Insert into Post button.
Editing Images in the Media Library
WordPress lets you perform basic image-editing tasks once your image is uploaded to the Media Library.
Go to Media > Library and click the image you want to edit. You’ll see a new screen that looks like this where you can click Edit Image:
Above the image are buttons to:
- Rotate counterclockwise
- Rotate clockwise
- Mirror vertically
- Mirror horizontally
- Go back one image
- Go forward one image
To crop an image means you keep part of an image and delete everything around it. To use the cropping tool, click the image and drag your mouse to select the part of the image to keep.
The area that will be removed is grayed out in the screenshot above. To preserve the proportions (known as the aspect ratio), hold the shift key down while you drag, or specify the aspect ratio in the box to the right.
Clicking either of the rotate buttons will rotate the image 90 degrees. Clicking either of the mirror buttons will flip the image, either top to bottom or right to left.
Look to the right. At the top, you can easily scale (resize) the image by typing in the desired dimensions. Note that you can only reduce the size, not increase it. If you try to make the image larger, you’ll see an angry red exclamation point, indicating an error.
Specify whether WordPress should apply the changes to all image sizes, the thumbnail, or all image sizes except the thumbnail.
When you’re done editing, click the appropriate button to save your changes.
How to Add Other Media to WordPress
WordPress makes it easy to add audio links from other websites. The simplest way is simply to place the link URL on its own line, like this.
When you publish the page or post, your readers will see an audio player at that spot.
You can also upload your own audio files, in exactly the same way you previously uploaded images. Either add them directly to the Media Library, or add them from within the post or page you’re working on.
Add a video link the same way you add an audio link, by typing the URL onto a separate line, or add your own video files to the Media Library. Note that this only works for videos from sites approved by WordPress. If your video comes from an unapproved host, you’ll have to use embed code to add the video using the Text tab rather than the Visual tab in the editor.
Here’s what the default video player looks like:
Other types of files you can add to the Media Library include PDF, Word, Excel, Photoshop, PowerPoint and Open Text documents. While you cannot display these within WordPress, a reader can click a link to open or download them.
Click here to see a complete list of all file types you can upload to the Media Library.
While you might not think of blog comments as “content,” they are considered user-generated content.
Comments can be an important part of your blog. Give some thought to how much time you want to spend moderating and responding to comments. On the one hand, you probably want to encourage readers to respond and interact. On the other hand, you don’t want your comment section crowded with lots of junk or spam. Dealing with it takes time, so be prepared.
Protect Your Site From Comment Spam
Comment spam can be anything from a comment left by another blogger in an inappropriate attempt to gain traffic or SEO links from your site, to automated bots that use blog comments to spread a marketing message (usually totally unrelated to your subject and often X-rated).
Use the WordPress Settings
Decide how you want to handle comments, then go to Settings > Discussion to set up basic comment handling.
Start with the Default Article Settings — these will be used for every article unless you specifically change them for that page or post.
Check/uncheck the box for each item, based on how you want to handle comments. Here are some points to keep in mind:
- Notifying blogs you’re linking to in the article will increase your email load. A better strategy is to mention them in social media when you share the post on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or another platform.
- Allowing pingbacks and trackbacks will let you know when another site has linked to you, although you may start to receive spam from some sites.
- If you don’t allow people to comment on new articles, you will have no comments on your blog. This is fine if that’s how you want to run your business. If you deselect this item, you can skip reading the rest of this section.
Points to consider:
- If you don’t require the comment author to fill out name and email, you’ll have more spam.
- If your site doesn’t offer any kind of membership, readers will not be registered or able to log in.
- If you want to close comments on older posts, you can select the number of days. If your blog is busy with lots of new content, 7 days may be plenty. If your articles aren’t time sensitive, you can keep comments open longer.
- Threaded comments are the comments where a reply is indented and shows up just below the original comment. If comments aren’t threaded, a reply shows up at the bottom of the list. Threaded comments are easier to follow, and you can choose how many levels deep to go.
- Unless your blog has a large volume of traffic and lots of comments, breaking comments into pages won’t be an issue.
- Choose whether you want the oldest or the newest comments at the top.
- If you’re checking your comments regularly, the email is probably unnecessary.
- If you manually approve all comments, you’ll be better able to keep spam at bay. However, if your blog gets a lot of discussion, this can become cumbersome. Readers want to see their comments approved and published quickly.
- If you allow anyone with a previously approved comment to post, there’s a chance for spam to creep in. Someone could post a good comment, but once it’s approved they would be free to post whatever they want. While you always have the option to delete comments later, it’s better if your readers don’t see them. Try it this way, and if it’s not working for you, go back and change it later.
Comment Moderation and Comment Blacklist are two important sections.
The default for Comment Moderation is, if a comment includes more than two links, WordPress holds it, even if it’s from a logged-in or previously approved user. You can change the number of links, and use the text box to add specific words that will cause a comment to be held for moderation.
Use the Comment Blacklist space to automatically throw out comments that include specific words. If your website is family friendly, blacklist words like “sex” or “hot girls,” for example.
Avatars are the little pictures that show up next to someone’s name in blog comments. Choose to show them or not, and then select an image to show if someone doesn’t have an avatar.
A gravatar is a “globally recognized avatar.” It’s a service provided by Automattic and it’s fully integrated into WordPress. Many sites across the web make use of Gravatars. Typically, when you comment on a blog with the email you used to register your Gravatar, your picture is automatically pulled in and displayed alongside the comment. To get yours, sign up at Gravatar.
Add a Captcha
If you’re finding a lot of spam comments in your moderation queue, you can reduce the number by adding Captcha — it’s that annoying little box that shows you odd-looking letters and numbers, or asks you to do arithmetic problems to prove you’re human and not a bot.
Nobody likes them, but they are effective.
I recommend installing the SI Captcha Anti-Spam plugin. Or use Google’s reCaptcha.
Use a Different Commenting System
Another option is to use a commenting system other than the one that’s included with WordPress. Disqus, CommentLuv and Facebook comment integrations are popular, and they integrate your blog comments with social sharing. Or find a WordPress plugin that offers enhanced commenting features.
Each of these has its pros and cons, and they can sometimes be tricky to set up. Personally, I have been using the Disqus system for years and enjoy it’s automatic spam protection and moderation.
Install a Security Plugin
Another approach is to use a security plugin to catch spam before you even see it. I recommend All-in-One WordPress Security and Firewall, which includes security features far beyond spam.
Or, if you want protection only for comments, Akismet is a low-cost comment spam catcher, made by the programmers who created WordPress.
WordPress Basics for Bloggers Series
- What Is WordPress
- How To Get Started With WordPress
- How To Use The WordPress Dashboard
- How To Use WordPress Themes
- How To Use WordPress Plugins
- Understanding WordPress Site Security
- WordPress Blogs: It’s All About The Content (you are here)
- How To Optimize WordPress For Speed
- How To Prepare Your Blog To Build Traffic From Search
- How To Prepare Your Blog To Build Traffic From Social
Next Steps For New Bloggers
- Validate your blogging idea and create a plan using the Blogging Startup Planner.
- Follow the steps outlined in How To Start A Blog: The Ultimate Free Guide.
- Use the Ultimate Blogging Planner to plan your blog content and strategy for the coming year.
- Use the Blog Promotion Checklist to get maximum visibility to your blog posts each and every time.