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How to post a blog (also for Pensives posted to the front page)

Use this checklist to navigate on this page, and to double check before you publish.
Hyperlinks | Posting | Correcting mistakes | Saving your draft | Categories and Tags | Featured image | Preview
Allow everyone to access this page! | Create Forum Topic
Publish and Schedule | Saving for later | Troubleshooting

Write your blog post

Use your favourite word processing programme. Be comfortable!

You will need to find:

  • A good title (6 to 9 words – so not like the one above.)
  • A text of 300+ words. Write more than 300 words. At Writers Abroad you were encouraged to write about 500 words. Aim for that, but don’t be afraid to write more.
  • At least one illustration. Your post will need to have a featured image, ideally wider than it is tall. This image will appear on the Front Page. [Note, as of spring 2022 your featured image will not appear in the document on it’s own page unless you add it as an illustration. See Adding images for more details.] If you choose one of your own pictures try to make it small. (A definition of ‘small’ coming soon.) To find images on-line that are free to use look at these sites:
  • A category. We have three categories of blog post at present: Bi-weekly Wisdom, Pensives and Authors. Most of this page is about publishing blog posts for Bi-weekly Wisdom and Pensives as these are the categories that will be important for all members most often.
  • At least one tag. These are to help people searching for topics on the Internet. For example, if your Bi-weekly Wisdom post is mostly about the writing techniques of your author hero, use ‘writing techniques’ and the author’s name as your tag. If your Pensive is related to Valentine’s Day, use ‘Valentines Day’ and ‘love’, ‘romance’ etc. as your tags.

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Ideally, but not necessarily, your post will have at least one link to a website elsewhere on the Internet and one internal link to a page or blog post on our website. This is purely to help search engines (so called Search Engine Optimisation – SEO). I recommend that you do not embed the URL as a hyperlink in your text now. Instead, write out the hyperlink in full next to the word or phrase you want to turn into a link. (As I have done above.) Embedded hyperlinks are one of the things that can cause problems when copying over your text to WordPress.

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Posting

I’m going to assume you will do this all at one and the same time. Note that there is an alternative way to approach this task if you want to work on your post on several different occasions. See Saving for later below.

Have your post open in a document window on your computer.

Once you’ve written your text you will need to post it.

Now open your browser. You’re going to be flipping between these two windows for a little.

In your browser, open our website and log in.

New post
New post
  • At the top of the page in the black bar, look for the ‘+ New’ tab. Hover your cursor over this and then choose ‘Post’ from the drop-down list.
  • A new page will open. You will see a blank page with ‘Add a title’ at the top, and under that a another line which says ‘Start writing or type / to choose a block’
  • Flip back to the post you wrote and copy your title.
  • On the website, at ‘Add a title’, paste the title of your post.
  • Flip back to your word processor. Copy all the rest of your text.
  • Flip back to the website.
  • Click on ‘Start writing…’ and paste your document.
  • If all goes well, you’ll see your post appear in paragraph blocks under the title.
Add title and text
Add Title and text

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Correcting mistakes

If at any point you think you’ve made a mistake, go to the white bar at the top of the document. Among the symbols to the left is a backward pointing arrow. Click on the backward pointing arrow to undo whatever you have just done. You can click on it several times to step back several stages.

Correcting mistakes
Correcting mistakes

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Saving your draft

WordPress has an autosave function, so your document has probably been saved automatically, but it’s always a good idea to make doubly sure. At the top of the browser, to the right in the white bar you can see ‘Save draft’. Click on this to save the draft.

Save draft
Save draft

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Setting Categories and Tags

Assuming you don’t need to do anything else to the text, still in the white bar, click on the cogwheel to reveal the right hand column. (The column may be there already, in which case clicking the cogwheel will make it disappear. Click the cogwheel again to bring it back.)

Look into the right hand column. At the top are two tabs: ‘Post’ and ‘Block’. Make sure ‘Post’ is underlined.

Cogwheel Post
Cogwheel and Post/Block

Scroll down to see the section called Categories. There are two check boxes, one for Bi-weekly Wisdom, one for Pensives. Check the appropriate Category. If you can’t see the checkboxes, there should be a downward pointing arrow next to Categories. Click on that to reveal them.

Below Categories is Tags with an input box. Type or paste your tags here. Remember to separate each tag from the next with a comma, or use the Enter key after each one.

Categories, tags, featured image
Categories, tags and featured image

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Below Tags is Featured Image. Clicking on ‘Set featured image’ will take you to the Media panel. You can either pick an image from the Media Library – perhaps one you’ve already uploaded – or you can upload the image you have chosen from your hard drive. Click on Upload files to upload from your hard drive. You can either drag and drop your image here, or open ‘Select Files’ to search for your image on your hard disc. For more detailed instructions about posting images to the Media Library see here.)

Upload featured image
Upload featured image

Once you’ve uploaded your image it will appear in the Media Library with a white on blue check mark. In the bottom right hand corner of your browser window you will see a button that says ‘Set featured image’. Click it. You’ll return to the New Post window and your featured image will appear in the Featured image box in the right hand column.

Set featured image
Set featured image

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Preview

Save the draft again and take a look at it by clicking on the Preview button (Next to the Save draft button in the white top bar.) You’ll be prompted to choose Desktop, Tablet or Mobil. Depending on your device one of these will be checked. I do all my website editing on a PC, so Desktop is checked for me. Click on preview in a new tab.

WordPress will generate a preview in a new tab and take you there.

Preview button
Preview button

Now is a good time to read through what you have written to see if you need to change any phrases, correct spelling etc.

For changes, go back to the tab with your new post, scroll down and make the changes you need to make.

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Other things

There are a number of more things you can do to improve your post. You can add in-line images for example, subheadings, block quotes etc. Later, I’ll make some How-tos for those things too. But for the moment, these are the basics.

Two final essentials

Before you publish, there are two final things you need to do in the right-hand column.

  1. Below Featured Image, look for Members only for this page? Check the box next to Allow everyone to access this page. This makes it possible for non-members to open and read your blog post. If you don’t check this box, visitors will be redirected to the log in page.
  2. At the very bottom of the right-hand column there is a section called Create Forum Topic. Click in the empty box and you’ll see a list of our forums. If you are posting in Pensives, choose the Pensives forum. When you publish your post, this will create a copy as a topic in the forum. All members who are subscribed should then receive a notification that your post has published. Members who wish to respond to the Pensive privately (i.e. so their response is only visible to logged in members) can respond in the forum. Members who want to respond publicly can respond, like non-members, in comments to the front page post.

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Publishing and Scheduling

Publishing

When you are ready to publish, go to the white bar at the top of the WordPress document. Next to Preview is the blue Publish button. Click on this.

There is a lock you must go through. Word press will ask:

Are you ready to publish?

Double-check your settings before publishing.

So do that. And only after, click Publish a second time.

Publish
Publish

Well done! You have published your blog post, either in Bi-weekly Wisdom or in Pensives.

Scheduling

If you choose, you can schedule your post to publish on a date and a time when you won’t be around to publish it manually.

Make sure the white side-bar to the right is visible. If it isn’t, toggle it on with the cogwheel symbol in the white bar across the top of the page.

Make sure the tab at the top of the white bar shows Post underlined in blue.

Directly under Post, you’ll see Status and Visibility. Visibility should be set to Public. Below that is Publish: Immediately. Hover your cursor over the word Immediately and it will be marked with square. Click on the Immediately to open a calendar.

In the calendar, at the top, you can choose the date and the time when you want the post to publish. Once you have put in the date and time you want, the word Publish in the blue box at the top of the page will become Schedule. Click on Schedule.

Scheduling

WordPress will ask you:

Are you ready to schedule?

Double-check your settings before publishing.

Do that and after you’ve done it, click Schedule again. Your post is scheduled and will publish on the day and time you have chose.

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Saving for later

If you want to work on a draft at different times, you can always save the post you are working on as a draft and come back to it later. To get back to the draft of a post you have been working on, do the following.

  • At the top of the page in the black bar, hover your cursor over Pens Around The World. A dropdown menu will appear for Dashboard. Click on this.
  • Now you have opened the back end of the website. There is a wider black sidebar to the left where you can see Posts, Media, Comments etc. Also the main window of the Dashboard will show a number of white boxes on a grey background. At the top left is a box called At a Glance. The first item under At a Glance is Posts.
  • Click on Posts, either in the black sidebar or in At a Glance.
  • Now, in the main window you can see a list of all the blog posts you have published with the most recent at the top. It should have the word Draft at the end of the title.
  • Click on the title of your draft post and you will be back in the editing window and can go on editing the post where you left off last time.

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Troubleshooting

The single most common problem with posting to WordPress is caused by conflicts between the word-processing programme you are using and WordPress. All word-processing programmes use a form of HTML code to style the text. WordPress uses it too. But some of the more elaborate styling (and even some quite common styling) can be created in word-processing texts with ‘in-house’ code that WordPress doesn’t understand.

If you run into a problem, and using the back arrow and trying again doesn’t help (see above Correcting mistakes), then try this.

Open a basic text editing programme on your device. (On a PC I’d use Notepad. I’m told you can do the same with TextEdit on a Mac.) Copy and past your document in the new, temporary plain text document. This will remove all styling including italics, bold and bullets. Copy the plain text again. Be very deliberate about copying the plain text. You want to flush the previous copy out of your clipboard. Paste it as plain text into your new WordPress document.

This will solve a lot of problems. It creates new ones, because now you will have to add the styling (italics, bold, bullets) to the WordPress document. All of that requires a new How to, which I will get to… eventually.

WordPress has become much better at coping with different word-processing programmes recently, so I hope this solution won’t be necessary for you.

Good luck!

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John
@johnnadmin

Updated 25 June 2022 to correct new behaviour regarding Featured Images, which now only appear in the hero image on the Front Page. If you want to ujse your Featured Image in your document as an illustration you will need to insert it as such.

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