Posts Tagged ‘theme’

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A little info for beginners on WordPress.

April 17, 2011

Hi!

Since I have begun this WP blog, I’ve had to scour the internet looking for various answers. A few questions I’ve had: What are WordPress plugins and how do I use them? Why can’t I change the layout of my blog? How to I add media to my blog for free?

At times it has seemed like a wild goose chase, so I hope to end that chase for others. Here I will post some questions and answers about WordPress blogging that I’ve had while creating and working on this blog.

Here’s the questions I will be answering:

    1. How do I change the layout of my blog?
    2. How do I add media to my blog for free?
    3. What is self-hosting and what are the benefits?
    4. What are WordPress plugins and how do I use them?
    5. How does WordPress compare to other blogging websites?

And I am willing to help others as best as I can if they have any other questions.

Oh and one great tip before I begin, always always always try to use the WordPress forums and WordPress support for your questions first. They are extremely helpful!

Q1: How do I change the layout of my blog?

This question is hard to answer. Although WordPress makes it easy to choose your theme (under Dashboard>Appearance>Themes), WordPress makes it difficult to change the layout of your theme.

For example, you just start a blog about food, and you want your header at the top, your pages underneath your header, your widgets on the left side of your blog, and your main body to the middle-right. That all deals with the layout of your blog.

When I first started my blog, I tried to get the pages of my blog (“About the Author”, “About this Blog”) right under my header. After struggling to figure out to do this, I finally figured out that the theme I had chosen “Neat!”, would not allow me to edit my layout.

So, before you struggle away trying to figure out how to change the layout of your blog, you should consider two things:

  • What are the features of my current theme? (Can I change what I need to with these features?)
  • Can I edit my theme’s CSS (Cascading Styles Sheets)?

Some themes allow you to change certain things and some do not. If a certain layout is important to you, you might want to consider your theme based on your ability to shape it.

A theme’s CSS is the code that lays out the design of your blog. You can only edit a theme’s CSS if you buy the upgrade.

Therefore, either choose a theme that allows you to have what you want, or buy the Custom CSS upgrade, learn how to code for CSS (if necessary), and design it how you want to.

I’m not one for spending money or wasting my time, so I will stick to my current theme and deal with layout problems as they pop-up.

One more thing, you can only have your own custom theme and use it if you are self-hosted (have your own website). I will talk about self-hosting later in this post.

Q2: How do I add media to my blog for free?

I’ve already answered this question in previous posts (One about pictures, video, and audio). As you can see, my information about them is kind of scattered. So I want to summarize it all here.

With WordPress, they want you to buy features so you can further customize your blog. Therefore, they give people enough for free for them to want to use WordPress, but they don’t give too much because they want people to buy something from them.

Everything on here that is free is usually somewhat limited. With this in mind I will give the ‘down and dirty’ on adding pictures, audio, and video.

Pictures:

Pictures are the most easy to add to your blog (WordPress explanation/help). You simply click the “Add an Image” symbol after “Upload/Insert” above your text editor’s toolbar. Your image can only be one of the listed file types (as listed when adding them).

And your blog images can only come from three sources:

  1. Your computer
  2. A website/URL
  3. Your media library (pictures you have used previously on your blog)

Be careful to make sure your pictures fit within the area you posting them by previewing your post. Here is some information about fitting your pictures to your blog. I’ve had trouble with this in the past as you can see from my first post.

Those are the few problems I’ve had since I began my blog. If you have other problems I recommend searching for answers in WordPress forum first where you can make your own post so others can help you. Or you could use WP’s 24/7 support. Or you can just Google it!

Audio:

This was the media I had the most trouble with. I really, really wanted to add just audio to my blog so you can press one button and listen to music as you peruse my blog. A playlist would be pretty nice too. However, I want this to be free and maybe you do too, so we are limited as to what we can do.

As described here, users can only add audio if they buy a Space Upgrade. The Space Upgrade also allows users to have more storage space for their blog. Another way to add audio is to get plugins and use them on your blog, however this is only possible if you have bought your own website (I will discuss plugins in depth later in this post).

I also searched Google and read that you can upload your own audio to websites online so you can have a link in your blog to it. But this is not what I want to do. I want the audio to be on my blog.

The closest one can get to having audio on their WP blog for free is by embedding videos from four select video websites: YouTube, Vimeo, Google, or DailyMotion. Yes, the only way to have audio on your blog for free is to have a video embedded in your blog.

I wish I had this laid out for me this clearly when I was trying to figure this out. I probably wasted about 3 hours trying to figure out how to have audio on my blog.

Video:

This is a great blessing on WP. For all it’s limitations, WordPress allows you to embed videos from Youtube, Vimeo, Google, or DailyMotion. The perk is that you can create your own videos on these sites. If you have your own audio you want on your blog, you can make a video with the audio, post it on YouTube, and then embed it in your blog. Just make sure you follow the embed format when typing in your video.

For example:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Iem96ITbfY%5D

Here is some WordPress information about videos.

Of course, if you don’t mind paying, you can buy WP’s VideoPress Upgrade.

Q3: What is “self-hosting” and what are the benefits?

This was another question that came up while trying to figure out my blog.

Self-hosting is where the individual has their own domain (website where individual has authority) that they buy from a hosting company.

People can get their own domains from hosting companies and WordPress is included (more WP hosting info here).

If one has their own domain they can download the WP software from WordPress.org.

Pros and Cons of Self-Hosting:

WordPress describes the benefits of self-hosting here, when describing the differences between using WordPress.com (free non-self-hosting blog website) versus using WordPress.org (users need to self-host to use WP software).

Basically, free WordPress blogging pros:

  • You get to use it for free.
  • You get to use a lot of free features and your blog can actually be pretty nice.
  • You don’t need a lot of technical knowledge.

Free WP blogging cons:

  • You cannot completely edit your blog’s appearance.
  • You are limited in space (unless you upgrade).
  • You are limited in what you can embed in your blog (unless you upgrade).
  • You cannot use plugins!

Self-hosting pros:

  • You can use whatever theme you want and you can edit it.
  • You can upload plugins (plugins have many uses).
  • You can edit the code of anything.
  • You can post your own ads using WP’s plugin (Ad Code).

Self-hosting cons:

  • You need to pay for a web-host.
  • You need technical knowledge.
  • You’re responsible for stopping spam.

I’ve found a lot of information about the pros and cons of self-hosting when it comes to blogging (like this one and this one).

From the sites I have found, self-hosting is spoken highly of. But I would think that self-hosting is recommended if you are a big company that has money to hire people to manage your website. The focus of self-hosting is on making money by spreading word of your company/product and through advertising.

For people like me who just want to blog for myself, self-hosting is too complicated, too time-consuming, and too costly.

Q4: What are WordPress plugins and how can I use them?

This was another topic that I had to research when starting up my blog. I really wanted to add media to my blog and I read that plugins make this easier. Basically plugins are software that can add additional features and functions to your website. Unfortunately WP plugins can only be used when you have a self-hosted WP blog.

In other words, don’t worry about it if you don’t want to pay and don’t want to self-host your blog.

Q5: How does WordPress compare to other blog sites?

I started using WordPress because I had heard that many companies used WordPress. I wanted to learn something useful and I wanted to write, so voila! I chose WordPress.

You may be wanting to blog for other reasons.

But what are your other options? And how does WordPress stack up to the competition?

I found a quick list of popular blog sites on doityourself.com

Free blog sites:

  • Blogger.com
  • WordPress.com
  • Weebly.com
  • FaceBook.com
  • Myspace.com

First, I’m going to discount both Facebook and Myspace. Although both are nice options for having a blog, I think having your own, separate blog is much cooler. Also, it makes one’s blog more serious and legitimate.

So, I’m going to compare the first three blogs.

To me, the most important difference is that Blogger allows for template (theme) editing for free while WordPress wants you to pay money to edit your theme. However, I chose WordPress for its reputation of usefulness in the professional world. I had not heard of Weebly.com until today. And that all ready says a lot.

Since I am not a blog expert, I looked for more comparisons/recommendations:

  • Pulsed.com compares both Blogger and WordPress here.
  • I found this on recognizedexpert.com, where a few people recommend WP over both Blogger and Weebly.
  • I also found a Google Trends comparison on WordPress’ main page of WordPress, Blogger, Typepad and a few other blogging platforms.

General consensus from the five minutes of internet research I just did:

WP is best for companies, but requires some learning. Most importantly, WordPress has the most traffic.

Blogger is highly malleable, has the second highest traffic rating, but is viewed as less professional. I think both WP and Blogger would be good for personal blogs and business blogs. However, WordPress has a more professional reputation and I would highly recommend it for business-related blogs.

Weebly comes in last with little reputation, few recommendations, and very little relative traffic. (Wah wah waaaah…)

Of course, if you are seriously wondering what blog site you should use, do your own research. I don’t know the specifics of what you want but I do want you to find the best blog site for what you need.

Dog Blog

Anyways, now that I’m done with my Q’s and A’s, here is my favorite cover of “The Rhythm of Love” by Clara C. and Joseph Vincent:

I hope you found at least one of my answers to these questions to be helpful. I know I would’ve if I had come across this a month or two ago. Yes, WordPress does require time and effort to figure out. But, in my opinion, once you figure it out (by painstakingly going through the WP tutorial, support section, forums, and more), it is well worth it.

Until next time! 🙂