When it comes to blogging, you need to know how to use your tools to their maximum potential. Whether they’re for researching, writing, publishing or promotion, knowing how to use the tools of your trade is vital to your success.
However, of all of those tools, none is more important than your blogging platform as it’s the only one that can be useful for every single stage of the writing process. For more and more bloggers, that tool of choice is WordPress.
But while WordPress has earned its popularity by being a robust blogging platform that almost anyone can pick up and use, there are many features of the platform that many of its users either aren’t aware of or simply don’t take adequate advantage of.
While the total number of such features is too great too count, a few features stand out as being drastically underused. Here are five of those features and why they don’t get the love they deserve.
The post slug feature is one that doesn’t seem to get a great deal of love. Though it’s incredibly useful for SEO and was optimized in version 2.5 of WordPress to be easier to use, some thought it had been removed.
Basically, the post slug feature allows you to edit the URL for the post or page you are working on. WordPress automatically generates your slug based upon your title but if you want to make sure that it has the desired keywords for SEO, you can easily add them in or you can remove unnecessary words. Also, if you want to write your own, click on “Screen Options” and click the “Post Slug” box, which will give you a text box to write yours from scratch.
It’s a powerful tool, especially if you want a posts URL to be different than its title, but it’s a feature that many WordPress users are aware of or know how to use.
WordPress Featured Image tool, simply put, allows you to associate an image with a post.
What exactly this does depends on the theme though most default WordPress themes, including those on WordPress.com, use featured images in one way or another. Often it’s to change the header image of the site for that post/page though, other themes, especially magazine layouts, use it to choose what image is associated with the post on the front page.
But even on sites where the featured image isn’t built to use the featured image that way, it can still be used to select which image is displayed in the Facebook thumbnail.
In short, it can give you much greater control over how your image is displayed in social media and may be worth adding even if your theme doesn’t use it directly.
Say that you’re going away for a week, finally taking that vacation you deserve, but what happens to your blog? Does it just idle for a week or do you log in every so often to post new things?
With schedules posts, you don’t have to do either.
Basically, every WordPress post lets you change the date and time of publication. You can easily set it into the past if you don’t want it to appear at the top or, more usefully, you can set it into the future so that it will appear online automatically.
This is much easier than the alternative of saving drafts and then posting them by hand later as its easy to forget to follow through when the time comes.
In short, this lets your WordPress site take care of itself while you’re gone and make it as if you never left at all.
If you run a large blog and use images routinely in your posts, you probably upload the same image or the same type of image pretty regularly. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could simply find the old images you used rather than finding it on your computer and uploading a duplicate or a near-duplicate to your server?
With Media Library you can do just that.
When writing a post, click the “Add Media” button as you normally do and, rather than simply dropping in your files or hitting the “Select Files” button, click the “Media Library” button at the top and you’ll be presented with a searchable and date-filterable list of your previously uploaded images.
If you correctly set your image information as you went and/or set your file names well, you can easily find what you’re looking for and reuse your past work rather than starting over.
Custom (Static) Home Page
WordPress is best known as a blogging platform but, in truth, it’s actually a fairly robust CMS that can be used to manage a large variety of site types.
One of the most important features is the ability to set a custom or static front page for your site. Located in your reading settings, which in turn is under your settings menu, you can select a created page to be the home page of your site.
Though will have to designate a different page for your posts, usually a blank page called “Blog” or something to the like, this feature makes WordPress useful out of the box for managing non-blog websites.
All in all, WordPress is an extremely powerful and robust blogging platform/CMS. But even though it’s well-known for being easy to pick up, install and use, much of the power is buried underneath the surface.
If all you use WordPress for is setting up a site and posting new content to it, you’re likely missing out on a great deal of it’s best features.
However, these are just a sampling of some of WordPress’ most underused features. There are many others out there and probably several that apply to your use of WordPress.
So take some time to explore your WordPress administration area and read through the Codex. You’ll likely find plenty of other things that you didn’t know WordPress can do that can help you in your day-to-day blogging.