Tag Archives | Wordpress

WordPress for Artists 4: Settings

In going through the Settings menu, I will show you the settings that I have for this blog and discuss the reasons for them where appropriate (if I can actually remember the reasons for any particular settings!).

Clicking on Settings > General brings up this page:


At the top is the Site Title.  You can change it to whatever you want to appear in the header of your blog.  As a reminder, this is what it looks like at first:


The tagline is that writing on the right hand side which describes your blog.  So I’ll change those.


Which, when I click ‘save changes’ (the blue button at the bottom) immediately shows up on the blog:


Going back to the General page, I have my site address the same as my WordPress address but if you click on the link it goes to a WordPress tutorial on how to change it.  For the email address, I have one dedicated to my blog called wordpress @ lizplummer.com (without the spaces – I’ve put them into this post to deter spammers).  When I set my blog up, I read that comments automatically get send to an email beginning wordpress @ and since I wanted comments to be emailed to me, I set up this email address in the Control Panel of my webhost and it worked.  In theory I think you can put any email address there, but I find it useful to have one email address for all blog related emails. I left the next two boxes at their default settings.  I set my timezone to London and left everything else on the default settings.  Remember to click ‘save changes’!

Going to the Settings > Writing section, this is where you can set up options for posting by email and things like that.  This is the default page:


I kept all the defaults on this page apart from Default Post Category.  This is the category that WordPress puts each post into unless you specify on.  So if you haven’t set up any categories, they all go into a category called Uncategorized!    This is the same for the Default Link Category – if you haven’t set up any blogroll categories, they are automatically put into the Blogroll.    As I use Windows Live Writer to publish my posts I have the two boxes under Remote Publishing checked (I don’t remember doing this, so maybe Live Writer did it for me!).  For Update Services, you can add links to services which will publicize your blog post.  In addition to pingomatic, I also have technorati (http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping).    Clicking on the Update Services link takes you to a WordPress tutorial on what benefits these have, with a list of other pinging sites.  Add as many of these as you want to.   I just added a load more to mine!  I think it is worth checking on this list every so often, because I’m sure I had about 5 when I last looked, so perhaps WordPress deletes them if they are no longer operational. 

Moving to Settings > Reading, here is what you see when you first click on it:


Once you have published some Pages, there is an option to set one of them as a static Front Page.  So you could have one as your homepage and set a link to your blog in the sidebar.  I don’t do it this way – I have a static page and I point www.lizplummer.com (my website address) to it on my webhost.  I will go through how I do that in a separate post. 

On the Reading tab you can set how many blog posts to show on each page of your blog. The default is 10 but I have mine set to 6 because I have a lot of pictures and I don’t want each page to take too long to load or people might get impatient and give up!   Syndication feeds means the posts you see in a blog reader such as Google Reader.  I keep the default setting on ‘full text’ for each article in a feed.  This means that when people are reading in Google Reader or similar, all the content of each post shows up in the reader.  It’s a personal preference, but I don’t like it when I only get a summary in the blog reader and have to click on the link to take me to the full post; I normally don’t bother and reading blog articles, I think most people would agree.   I keep the same encoding as the default.

Moving to General > Discussions, here is the default page:


This is where you make the settings for readers to leave comments.  The first section, default article settings, I have kept all the boxes checked.  For the next section, I have comments closed when an article is 60 days old.  This is because I had a number of posts which were very popular, such as the Concertina Book Tutorial, and I was getting a lot of spam comments on it and not very many genuine ones, so I decided to time limit the comments.  But again, this is personal choice.  I have kept all the rest of the defaults. 

Media tab:  this is where you organise your photo uploads, and set the different sizes that photos will appear in your blog.  In general, I make my photos 400 pixels wide but sometimes, such as for this series, I have made them 600 pixels to make the screenshots easier to read.  If you make them too wide, it interferes with the spacing of the sidebar.  Otherwise, I have kept all the default settings.  Since I write my posts in Live Writer, I make the settings within that software.

Privacy tab:  in general you will want your blog to be searchable by Google unless it is a private blog for, eg. an online class.  Here you can decide which setting to use.

Permalinks tab:  permalinks are the permanent urls which each individual post is given.  This is a screenshot of the page.  I have opted for the second option, day and name.  This means that the name of the blog post shows up in Google.


Those are all the default Settings links.  As you add plugins, their individual settings will be given a link under this Settings menu, so if you want to change any of them, this is where to look.  Do leave a comment if you have any questions about any of these settings and I’ll do my best to answer them!

WordPress for Artists 3 – Akismet

I was going to leave a plugins post until after I had talked about the different options under Settings, but once you start writing posts you are likely to also start getting comment spam.  The default spam filter included with the WordPress installation is called Akismet and it is very effective, but you need to set it up.

If you click on Plugins on the left sidebar, you come to this page.  Here are the plugins that come ready installed with WordPress. 


I will delete the Hello Dolly plugin but I’ll keep the other two.  I’m not sure what Jetpack does as it isn’t offered on this blog but am curious to find out! 

You will note that it says that you need to sign up for an Akismet API key in order to activate Akismet.  You used to do this by registering with WordPress.com so if you already have an account with them there should be an API key in the original email you got when you registered.  However, I just clicked on ‘sign up for an Akismet API key’ and it sent me to the Akismet website so I’m not sure what you do now.  My original API key still works however, so anyone with a WordPress.com account should be able to use theirs.   You click on ‘Activate’ and then on the page you come to, it will tell you that you need to enter your API key; click on this link and put the API key in and it will activate it.   (An API key is a code that you type in which is personal to you).  If you haven’t already got an API code, I suggest you register with WordPress.com anyway and see if there is one included in the acknowledgement email.

I am curious to know what this Jetpack is, so I will link that to my WordPress.com account as well.  Clicking on ‘settings’ under the Jetpack plugin (on the same screen as the above screenshot) leads to this page:


I clicked on ‘Connect to WordPress.com’, entered my username and password for that site (NB. not the same username and password for this blog) and it seems to add more widgets to the sidebar – I will go through them when I talk about the various options under Appearance.

WordPress for Artists 2

Okay, so I have a pristine new blog.  To get to the dashboard, I clicked on the link given in the email sent to me by SimpleScripts – it’ll be the one ending in ‘wp-admin’.  I logged in, using the username and password I specified originally and this is the page I come to:

wordpress blog dashboard

We’ll ignore that Jetpack thing for now – that’s new and I don’t have it on my old blog so I need to investigate it a bit more!  Will come back to it later…

I’ll go through the menu items on the left hand sidebar one by one. 

Posts.  This is where you write new posts and edit old ones.  If I click on it, a list of all posts appears.  That ‘Hello world’ one is an introductory post that shows up in all new WordPress blogs so I’ll delete it.  If you hover over the post title you will see a list of options appear, including ‘edit’ and ‘trash’.


  I’ll go into a new post page by clicking ‘Add New’ on the left hand sidebar.  Here is where you write your posts.  If you click on one of the icons to the right of ‘Upload/insert’ you get options to include images, videos etc.  As I normally write my posts using Windows Live Writer, a blog writing programme that you download to your computer (mostly because I find it easier to add and manipulate photos that way),  I only use the WordPress dashboard to write fairly straightforward, imageless posts.   I will write a post about using Windows Live Writer. 

If you look at the right hand sidebar, you can see that you have options to make a post public, keep it private, or password protect it (useful if you want to run online courses perhaps).  On the next line down, it says ‘publish immediately’ – if you click on ‘edit’ it will bring up a calendar so you can choose a date and time to defer publishing it until later.  Useful if you are going on holiday and want to plan ahead and leave a few blog posts to be published in your absence.  Once you have edited these things, you can click on the blue Publish button and your post either goes live immediately or will go live at the time and date you have specified.   If you have set a post date in the future, you can find your blog post in the list of posts to edit and you can go back and edit it if necessary.  They are arranged in order of posting date.


If you look at the top right hand side of the screen, you will see that it says ‘Screen Options’.  Click on that, and you get more options which will show up on the posts page if you tick the boxes.    Format is whether it is a standard post, an ‘aside’, a sort of added comment which you can make to separate it from a normal post (I was trying this out the other day and the only difference it seems to make on my posts is to leave out the title; maybe that is because I have a plain white background).  The other option in Formats is Gallery which is a post consisting just of photos.   I’ll go through the other posting options when I introduce Live Writer, but feel free to ask if you want to know about any of them earlier.  I think the Aside and Gallery formats are new to the default WordPress theme, which is called WordPress 2010. 


Going down the left hand menu again, if you click on Media you go to a page which lists all the photos etc that you have attached to your blog, and you can edit or delete them, etc.    You will notice also that if you hover over the right hand side of these menu options, a down arrow appears; click on it and further options appear: as you can see from the above screenshot, you can click on ‘add new’ to go straight to a new posting page, for example.

This is the page you get to if you click on the Links button.   As you can see, it has lots of WordPress links which you can either retain or delete.  I will delete all of them and start afresh.


But first, I have clicked on the one called Documentation, to show you what you fill in to add a link to your sidebar.  (You can also download a plugin which moves all your links to their own dedicated page, which I have on this blog, but I’ll talk more about plugins in a post of their own.  They are what really makes self-hosted WordPress so flexible and powerful.).

As you see, under Name you write whatever text you want to appear on the sidebar for that link.  Then under web address you write the url.  Anything else is optional.  You can set up new categories so that your links are organised into different subjects on the sidebar. Click on ‘link categories’ on the left sidebar to set up a new one and it will appear as an option in each link page.  As you see in this one, the only pre-existing category is Blogroll.  I’ll set up a few more later.


Scroll down the page and you can add more information, to remind yourself of the identity of the link; a bit like an email address book.  And at the bottom is the option to add an image.  You have to upload the image into a folder in the file manager on your webhost Control Panel – I will explain the WordPress files in there in a later post: although I don’t find I have to go there very often, it is useful to know how they are organised.  WordPress has got a lot more user friendly over the years and most things can be uploaded and organised via the dashboard now.


Back to the left hand menu:


The other two menu items on this first section are Pages and Comments.  Pages are like posts, but they are static: they are outside the normal ‘timeframe’ of the blog, what WordPress calls the WordPress loop.  So you can use these as web pages, sales pages, a homepage.  On this blog I use them for my portfolio pages, to show pictures of my artwork, for my homepage, an ‘about me’ page and also for things like my Google map of textile museums.  There is also a very useful plugin which will convert posts to pages, so if you’ve written a very popular post in the past you can convert it into a static page.  I’ve done this for my other tutorials, such as How to make a Concertina Book. 

The Comments page is where you can view comments, edit, delete, mark them as spam or reply to them. 

I have now deleted all the preinstalled blog posts and links and this is what the homepage looks like now – bit bleak, eh? 


But not to worry – in the next blog posts I will go through the second section of menu items.  These are where you can change the look of your blog, make changes to the settings, find plugins, set up a menu on the header and this is where I’ll start making changes to the look and feel of this blog and will post screenshots both of the dashboard and then the actual blog to show you what effect my changes have made, one by one.

WordPress for Artists 1

Over the next few weeks I am planning a new series on my blog – a number of tutorials on using WordPress for your artists’ blog and website.  Or at least, how mine is set up, which is what I know!  There may be other ways to do it, but I will walk you through some of the various styles I have had on my blog as well as the very basics of installing it in the first place.

First of all, why move to WordPress?

Tara Gentile has written a great blog post about this, called WordPress: Setting Fire to your Burning Questions.  One good reason to use WordPress on your own domain is that you are in control, it is your own webspace, and especially if Blogger goes down dramatically, as it did a week or so ago, your site is unaffected!    Do read Tara’s blog post, because she explains it a lot better than I can.

I like WordPress because I have found that I can integrate my website with my blog easily.  It has what it calls pages  (as opposed to posts, which are the normal blogging type entries) and these remain static.   The reason started to use WordPress for my website is that, as well as being able to make the style consistent, it is easy to update pages, add photos of recent work, etc.  To do this with my old website, I had to rewrite the html and re-upload it to my webhost, or go to the Control Panel on my webhost and rewrite it there.  Which meant that often my site didn’t get updated because I couldn’t be bothered to do it!  Now I can just go to the familiar WordPress admin site and do it from there, without bothering with html.

What I plan to do for this series is to start up a new blog and take screenshots of each page, to explain clearly step by step what you need to do (and in fact when you get to the bottom of this post you’ll see that I’ve done just that!). If anything isn’t clear, please feel free to ask – there’s no such thing as a stupid question!

First of all, you need a webhost.  This is basically a company which will host your website on its servers.  You usually pay them per; it is fairly inexpensive.  The webhost I use is Bluehost. (affiliate link.)  I have used the company as my webhost since I started with WordPress at the end of 2005 and have found them to give a pretty good service, and the price was especially good a few years ago when we were getting two dollars to the pound here in the UK!  Whenever I ask a question on the help page, they get back to me quite quickly – especially a few weeks ago when I upgraded my version of WordPress and something went wrong.  I had a panicky half hour thinking I’d lost my blog but they fixed it without me having to do anything. 

If you want to run WordPress, it is best to choose a webhost which has Simple Scripts or Fantastico as part of the  Control Panel.  Simple Scripts is better, I think, because when an upgrade is released it brings it out very quickly – Fantastico used to be a few versions behind so I moved to Simple Scripts.  It installs WordPress for you in a couple of clicks so you don’t have to worry about all the complicated instructions on installation on the WordPress website.

Anyway, here goes with setting up the blog!  I’ve logged into my Control Panel on Bluehost and this is what I see. (Control Panel is software used by many webhosting services).   It says ‘SimpleScripts Installations’ at the top there because I already have several, but if you are just starting out you have to scroll down to the bottom of the page.

screenshot of webhost

Under Software/Services, the first icon on the left is the Simple Scripts one.  Click on this.

Simple Scripts screenshot page

On the page you come to, scroll down to where it says ‘Script List’.  Under ‘blogs’ you see the WordPress icon.  Click on this.

screenshot of Simple Scripts list page

You see my two blogs listed there.  To start another blog for the purposes of this series, I’ll click on the green Install button at the bottom.  If you want to know more, click on ‘Creating a Website using Simplescripts’ at the bottom.

screenshot of WordPress install,

This is the page you come to next. The default installation is the recent version of WordPress – it is important to keep upgrading to the latest version as soon as possible after they are released because often they fix security bugs which stop people hacking into your blog (I will show you how to do this via SimpleScripts when a new upgrade comes along).   Then it asks where to install WordPress, ie. what to call the new directory it will create on your webhost’s server.  The www.lizplummer.com is my domain name so that was already filled in.   I typed in ‘wptutorial’ into the section after the forward slash so you will find the new blog at www.lizplummer.com/wptutorial. 

Wordpress installation

I clicked to expand the Advanced Options, called the blog ‘Wordpress for Artists Test blog’ and chose a username and password after I took the screenshot.   I ticked the terms and conditions box, and then the green Complete box.

wordpress installation

I then got a page with ‘Installation Complete’ on it and showing the admin details so obviously I won’t be putting a screenshot of that page on here!  An email with the username and password will now be sent to me.  I will need those details to log into the WordPress dashboard, which is where you make changes, write blog posts, etc.

Here is a screenshot of the new WordPress blog which I just created at www.lizplummer.com/wptutorial

wordpress tutorial blog screenshot

In the next tutorial I will walk you around the WordPress dashboard and start customizing the blog. 

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