I think Google is trying to corral the way we think. You wanna know why? Because a search on ‘WordPress tips’ returns results like ‘install Analytics’ or ‘use plug-ins’.
But what about the WordPress.com users among us? What if you’re blogging for fun instead of e-commerce? And do I really need Analytics if I only have 10 visitors a month?
That’s why today I’m presenting you with the old wives’ tales version of WordPress tips. We’re not going to do what big corporations tell us to, no.
Instead, we’ll be covering WordPress tips for personal bloggers, by a personal blogger.
So get your chicken soup and Vicks ready, because we’re about to dive down the WordPress equivalent of sleeping with onions in your socks.
I’m just going to throw this out first: the successful bloggers here participate in some form of socialising or another. So if you’re going to do the same, you’ll want to streamline your process.
i. Leave your business card
First up, ensure that your Gravatar account is up to date. Why? Because you can’t network if people can’t find your page.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve chatted with great commenters on my blog, only to not be able to return the favour. So do get that checked before you even begin networking.
You can do so by visiting Gravatar.com and logging in with the e-mail you use for WordPress.
And while you’re at it, why not add a profile pic? It increases trust, and it beats having the random pattern image.
ii. Creep on your readers
There’s a reason why I want you to update your details. Because I want to know if you’re legit.
I’m not a fast commenter, so I do take a bit of time to craft replies. And it sucks having spent ten minutes writing only to realise that I’d been replying to a spam account.
So always creep on your readers first. Its other benefit includes the extra context you’d get from visiting their site. It’s nice to know somebody’s name and location, for instance.
iii. Shout out your shoutout
When you backlink, try linking to a post instead of the root domain. I’ve come across quite a few mentions of my blog through sheer coincidence. These were kind posts too. I just wish I knew about them sooner.
So make the person’s day. Link to an article so that they’d get the backlink notification. They wouldn’t know it otherwise (unless you personally message them).
iv. Sift through your spam
Do you get those long-ass spam comments that take you ten rolls of the mouse wheel just to get through one message?
Well, say goodbye to endless scrolling, because I’ve found a way to quickly jump through spam.
Simply search for the term ‘2022/09’, or whatever month it happens to be. Every time you press Enter, you’ll be brought to the start of the next message.
Neat, huh? No more sifting through unending Viagra ads trying to find the human that fell through the cracks!
v. Confirm humanity
I gotta say, the spambots are getting crafty these days. I’ve been convinced that a couple of messages were actually real. And this is made worse by non-binary accounts (quite literally) that could be human or robot.
If you can’t be sure whether a comment is real, just paste it into Google with apostrophes. Example: ‘I would like to give you a huge thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post’.
Sincere readers wouldn’t repeat their comments verbatim. So if you do find similar comments copied word-for-word, then you’ll know they’re spam.
After networking comes writing. Yes, I’m prioritising admin duties over the actual writing. This is because I’ve seen great talents fade into the background, while the more social bloggers get most of the attention.
But once you’re ready to write, here are some tips to improve the mechanical side of things.
i. Use another editor
Despite being a blogging platform, WordPress’s editor leaves a lot to be desired. For one, the editor lags once we get up to 1,000 words or so. And the quick chopping of multiple blocks is clunky at best.
Which is why I recommend using a separate editor entirely. Plain text works best, but you can use whatever you’re most comfortable with.
I use Vim to whip my posts into shape, then copy-paste the entire thing into WordPress. The only editing I do on WordPress itself is adding images and anonymous elements like drop caps.
ii. Write in Markdown
If you’re going with the plain text method, it’s best to stick with programmes like Notepad or TextEdit.
And it’s even better if you write in Markdown. You can look it up on Google, but it’s basically memorising a few symbols to format your work. Here’s a quick primer: italics would be
_italics_, and bold would be
And this is where the WordPress editor shines. Copy-pasting Markdown works without a hitch. But do note that only copy-pasting works for me. You can’t write Markdown directly into WordPress.
iii. Use shortcuts
If you’re still inclined to write in WordPress, at least take the time to memorise the shortcuts.
For starters, you can type ‘/’ in the editor to bring up special blocks, or you could use keypress commands. Press Alt + Shift + H (or Option + Control + H for Mac) in the editor to see the full list.
My most-used shortcuts are:
/image for images
/heading for the subheadings
Cmd + K for links
'*' for lists
/more for the Read More line
Dealing with plagiarism
It doesn’t matter how big or small of a blogger you are. You will fall victim to plagiarism.
I frankly couldn’t be bothered, because my stories are specific to me. After all, how many ex-hairdresser-accountant writers from Malaysia do you know?
That doesn’t mean you can’t make it harder for the plagiarisers though. As long as you remember that there’s very little you can do against pirates who actually put in the effort to copy.
i. Link to yourself
It’s good practice to include at least one link that points to another article of yours. It doesn’t just benefit SEO, but it also includes breadcrumbs that link back to you.
So if a True Reader comes across your plagiarised post, they’ll be able to at least find you.
ii. Include personal images
Who knew that selfies or pics of your dog could prevent plagiarism? There’s no better way to claim ownership over your post than by including digital ephemera.
So let’s say you write about your broken arm and include the sentence: ‘here’s a pic of my broken arm’. It’d be weird not to have pics of said arm, right? Which means that the plagiarisers will have to work harder to pass off your article as theirs.
And while we’re on the subject of photos, you could also opt to watermark them with your brand or URL.
iii. Use unique terms
I learned this one from Chuck Palahniuk. He inserts easily-googleable terms into his stories so that he can look them up online. This allows him to easily find websites using his work without permission, which is pretty nifty. But it also works in reverse.
For instance, I’ve worked the term ‘Malaysia’ into my posts enough that I’m fairly visible through that tag on WordPress. So even if someone were to copy this post and remove my details, a True Reader would still be able to find me by searching a few key terms.
Or let’s say you’re The Travel Architect (who’s a true role model for internal linking and personalised pics). If I were to copy this post and omit the links and pics, there wouldn’t be any hints pointing back to their blog, and I’ll be able to pass off the article as my own.
But if they were to include phrases like ‘Here at The Travel Architect…’ or ‘In true Travel Architect style…’ there’d be an added layer of hard-branding your work.
It’ll also tip off the True Reader that this particular post probably doesn’t belong on cryptoinvestments58627.wordpress.com.
Of course, these are just optional examples though. Because like I said, a true pirate would edit out all the above before stealing, and there’s really nothing you can do about that.
Finally, we have the odds and ends that don’t fit anywhere else. I don’t have much else to say about this topic, but I’m adding another sentence because I want to pad this part out.
i. Forget the Business plan
There’s no harm in securing your own domain and removing ads for that professional look. But many successful bloggers on WordPress are doing fine on the free plans.
Just check out the ‘book blog’ or ‘travel’ tags and you’ll find tons of blogs thriving without custom domains. So don’t use the lack of the Yoast plug-in as an excuse.
Also, if you can garner a following on the free plan, you’ll definitely kill it once you get that upgrade.
ii. Preview your site on mobile
A quick disclaimer: I browse WordPress fully from my desktop. But many others do so from their mobiles, especially if they don’t blog.
Which is why it’s important to check how your website looks on a phone.
Had I not done so, I wouldn’t have known that only half my header appears on mobile, and that the Subscribe button wouldn’t be visible if I left Endless Scroll on.
You might find other snags that relate to your specific theme, so don’t forget to visit your blog from your phone.
iii. Show your blog posts first
If I were to land on your homepage, what would I see first? A short About Me page? Or your blog posts?
I ask because in the age of short attention spans, it would be beneficial to show your offerings right away.
So unless you’re challenging Arianna Huffington or Perez Hilton for the Most Famous Blogger title, do save your readers the extra clicks. This is especially true for your returning visitors.
Think about it: Your About page will only be useful once. Your content will be useful regardless. This doesn’t apply if you’re a photographer or an artist and wish to showcase your portfolio first.
Take what’s important, and perhaps leave a pointer too
This brings us to the end of today’s post. Sure, they may not be bleeding-edge tips like ‘customise your permalinks’ or ‘compress your images’, but I suspect they’d be more applicable to you than what you’ll find on Google right now.
And if they aren’t, you probably have a few tricks yourself. In which case, I’d love it if you shared them in the comments.
Just make sure your Gravatar’s updated before you do so.
I have non-WordPress tips too, sent direct to your inbox. You’ll also get a free guide on how to grow your WordPress audience, so do join the community if that’s your cuppa tea!