In the last instalment of how to start a blog, we looked at choosing and installing a WordPress Theme. As I’ve already mentioned, every theme has different options and so it would be impossible for me to cover how to customise your theme. It would be like me talking you through the controls of a car. Each car comes with different features such as air conditioning and memory seats and each of these features work differently in individual car models.
What I’d suggest, is to read the theme documentation and simply play around with the options until you get the look that you want.
Once you’re comfortable with your theme then I’d recommend taking the time to consider how your blog will be structured. A good structure makes for a good user experience and also helps with SEO. For this, we need to learn a little about pages, posts, categories and tags.
What Is The Difference Between Posts And Pages?
WordPress offers you, as a blogger, a couple of different ways to publish content. The first way is by publishing a page, the second is by publishing a post.
“But what is the difference between a post and a page?” I hear you ask. If I were to break it down into it’s most simple terms I’d explain it like this. A page is generally used for static content. By that, I mean pages that have a link on the main menu and that won’t generally change much. A good example of this is an about me page or a contact page. A post on the other hand is generally any other kind of content. Posts are date specific which allows them to be displayed in date order or reverse date order. In addition, Posts can be categorised so that lots of content can be easily grouped into categories with other related posts. Let’s take a closer look.
Understanding Blog Posts
Let’s assume for a moment that you’re blogging about pets. You may decide that you’re going to blog about Cats, Dogs and Reptiles. The beauty of posts is that they can be put into categories. With this in mind, we could create a category for each type of pet. So, we’d create three categories, Cats, Dogs, Reptiles. We could then create sub categories under these. So let’s take the dog category for now. We could create child or subcategories beneath the dog category for different breeds, such as Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, Dobermans etc.
Whenever we publish a post, we can then choose which category it goes into when published and the link to that category can go on the menu as a drop down beneath the menu tab called dogs. This allows your readers to get to the content that interests them immediately.
One other thing that posts have is tags. You can think of tags as another way to organise your content. You can assign as many tags to a post as you wish although I’d advise no more than half a dozen.
When people visit your blog and click on a category or tag link on the menu, they’ll be taken to what is called an archive page. An archive page is simple a page on your website that lists all the posts that are in a certain category or that share a common tag. Usually the posts are shown as an excerpt, a thumbnail image and a read more link. Try it now, look at my menu above and choose Business Tips, this will take you to the business tips category. If you click on Blogging Tips, you’ll be taken to the category that all the blogging tips posts can be found. Does that make sense? The same thing works for tags, You’ll see under my post excerpts that there are some links in green that say “tagged with”. Click on one of the tags such as WordPress and you’ll be taken to an archive of blog posts that I’ve attributed a tag to called WordPress.
So, using our pet example earlier. We could organise content in a different way. Maybe we still keep our main categories as Cats, Dogs and Reptiles, however, we could then choose not to use subcategories and instead we could use tags for the different breeds. We could also use tags for things like husbandry, training etc. If we consider a typical blog post, we may be writing a post about training a puppy, the puppy in question could be a Poodle. We’d then create our post, put it in the dog category and then attribute the tags ‘training’ and ‘Poodles’. That way, if we list our tags on the blog, people could jump straight to the Poodle tag and read all our posts about Poodles or they could click on the training tag and read all the posts about training. Is this becoming clearer now?
What I’d suggest is to first of all decide on your categories and static pages. I use a free mind mapping app usually. There are loads of them available. Alternatively, you could just use pen and paper. Take a look at the example below.
HOME & CONTACT – These could just be static pages
CATS , DOGS, REPTILES – These are categories
EVERYTHING ELSE – These are tags.
Planning Your Blog Structure Is Paramount
You’ve heard the thing about the six P’s right? Perfect planning prevents piss poor performance! I think it may have started as 5 P’s but hey!
So, for the past couple of weeks, that is what I’ve had Emma doing with Baking Tutor. She’s been planning her structure. To help, she also attended one of my WordPress courses organised through my other company NetWise Training. This helped her to understand the concept of pages and posts along with categories and tags. She’s now busy planning her blog structure and adapting her theme to display her content in a logical way.
One of the major advantages of using a CMS ( Content Management System ) such as WordPress is that it offers you the flexibility to organise content using the category and tag taxonomies.
Adding content to posts and pages is identical other than on a post, you get to assign the post to a category and you get to use tags. Posts are date driven as I previously mentioned, this allows them to display in reverse chronological order. In addition, posts are included in your RSS feeds. If you don’t know what an RSS feed is, then click the link to read about them.
WordPress uses a WYSIWYG editor to create posts and pages. If you’ve ever used a word processor before now such as Word, then you’ll feel right at home creating content on the blog.
Hopefully this post has got your brain ticking a little. If you take your time to plan the structure of your blog then you’ll reap the dividends later. Next time, we’ll be looking at creating the perfect blog posts, getting ideas for blogging and also looking at how bloggers make money.