Welcome to the WordPress community! We’re happy to have you! This new blogger’s guide contains tips to help you engage effectively with the community and have a more positive blogging experience.
First up are some things that are useful to know about WordPress that you may not be aware of yet. Next are some blogging etiquette tips and more general blogging tips, which have been compiled with input from other members of the blogging community.
Finally, there’s a section on regular blogging prompts hosted by members of the blogging community; these can be a great way to engage with other bloggers.
A few things to know about WordPress
Make sure your Gravatar matches your domain name
Your Gravatar is the picture and username that get displayed in other bloggers’ notifications if you follow, like, and comment on their posts. That Gravatar should be connected to your blog site, so people can click on it to go visit your site. But if you’ve changed your domain name and the wrong site is connected to your Gravatar, people who click on it will get a message that your site no longer exists. Not good, right?!
In the app, go to “Me” at the bottom of the screen. In the browser version, click on your Gravatar image near the top right of your screen. Then go to “Account settings.” On this screen, you’ll find a box for Web Address (and below this, it says “Shown publicly when you comment on blogs.” Make sure the domain name listed here is correct.
Check your spam folder
Did you realize you have a comment spam folder? You do, and legit comments people leave on your blog will sometimes end up there by mistake. In “My Sites”, go to the “Sites” section and click “Comments.” One of the tabs listed at the top is “Spam.” Make a habit of checking here on a somewhat regular basis to see if there are any legit comments that should be rescued.
What the heck is a pingback? If you include in one of your posts a link to someone else’s posts (note: it has to be the link to the post on their actual website, not the version shown within the WordPress reader), when you publish the post, they will get a pingback, which appears as a comment on whatever post of theirs you linked to. It’s a handy little way of notifying other bloggers that you’ve mentioned them.
- Don’t plagiarize. That should be self–evident, but apparently some people miss the boat on that. And by the way, changing a few words but keeping the same structure, tone, and overall content still counts as plagiarism.
- Don’t be a rapid-fire liker. If you click like on 20 of a person’s posts within the space of 2 seconds, and they happen to be online and see those rapid-fire likes pop up, they will know you didn’t read them and they’ll probably think you’re a douchebag. Don’t be a douchebag.
- Don’t play the follow-unfollow game (follow someone hoping they’ll follow you back and then unfollowing them). It’s tacky on social media, and it’s tacky on WordPress, too. When you get a new follower, take a look at their blog, and then follow or move on as you see fit.
- Don’t over-reblog. There’s nothing wrong with reblogging other people’s posts once in a while. But if you keep reblogging the same person without talking to them about it, that starts to get a little creepy. In addition, if your blog consists of mostly reblogs rather than original content, you’re probably going to lose readers’ interest.
- Don’t say “Great post! Follow and like my blog mentalhealthathome.org.” It’s spammy. If you are going to leave your link in someone’s comment, there should be a very good reason for it. After all, people should be able to find you through your Gravatar.
- Generic comments don’t tend to go over well. “Nice post” doesn’t even convey that you’ve actually read the post; instead, you’re better off just clicking the like button or leaving a more relevant comment.
- Make sure comments you leave actually suit the blogger’s post. “Glad things are going well!” is not appropriate if the post talks about how the blogger broke their arm and their dog died.
- When people leave comments on your blog, respond to them – this is a great way to engage with people and develop a sense of community. If you regularly don’t respond to comments, people will stop leaving comments. However, if people leave spammy self-promoting comments or offensive, derogatory comments, go right ahead and delete those.
- Be careful about giving unasked-for advice, especially to people you don’t know. It may end up annoying the other blogger rather than helping them.
- If you disagree with someone’s post, be polite or just move along. Don’t be nasty.
- Relax: If you don’t get a post out when you’re “supposed to,” that’s totally okay. There is no minimum amount you “have to” post. Your blogging pace will change over time, and that’s okay – life happens. If you need a break, that’s okay too. Blogger burnout is a thing, and you don’t want it to happen to you.
- Stats: Try not to get sucked into the bottomless pit of checking your stats. And more generally, try not to focus on comparing your blog to others. Each blog is unique, and that’s what makes the blogosphere interesting. It’s hard to avoid entirely, but try not to get stuck there. Views and likes may have very little to do with your blog’s quality. If you take a blogging break, your stats will drop; it has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with how people read blogs (i.e. what’s new in the WP Reader, email notifications of new posts). So don’t take it personally.
- Comments are a form of conversation: That’s how you can form deeper connections with other bloggers. To help get conversations going on your own posts, try asking a question at the end of your posts to give readers an idea for how to focus their comments.
- Go for it! If you’re hesitating and wondering if you should write about something, just start writing. You may decide you don’t want to publish it, but if you’re getting caught up wondering if you “should” publish it, just do it!
- Proofread: Your posts don’t have to be perfect, but if the grammar and spelling are so bad that it’s unreadable, people aren’t going to read it. Grammarly is great for the lazy proofreader as it will catch a lot of your errors.
- Follow your passion: Trying to keep up what you think you “should” do is a recipe for blogger burnout. Write what you’re passionate about, and readers will notice that.
- My blogging & writing tips page has a directory on all the posts I’ve written about blogging-related topics.
- If you’re a new mental health blogger, you may be interested in participating in my emerging blogger series.
The MH@H Store has a FREE how-to guide on building a WordPress.com blog from the ground up. It’s got lots of useful tips whether you’re just getting started or wanting to take advantage of more of WordPress’s features.
One way to get involved in the WordPress blogging community is by participating in some of the regular prompts hosted by a wide variety of bloggers. Here’s a list of some of the ones that are out there:
- Paula at Light Motifs II does a Monday peeve
- Melanie at Sparks from a combustible mind does a weekly Share Your World
- Salted Caramel does a weekly blogging insights prompt
- Pensitivity 101 and PCGuyIV cohost Fibbing Friday
- Rory at A Guy Called Bloke offers a wide variety of prompts