By Indie Authors for Indie Authors.

Tag: wordpress (Page 1 of 2)

Managing Links

Wordpress for Authors

Photo Courtesy of WordPress for Beginners

It might be worth mentioning at this point an important fact about WordPress plugins. If you’ve been following this post series you might be getting excited and carried away by the many possibilities discussed. Keep in the back of your mind that plugins slow your site down. The more you have activated, the slower your site will run.

The reason is that each plugin consists of extra code that must run in order to render the page correctly. If you have twenty plugins activated, then twenty sets of code must run, each plugin demanding its round-robin piece of computation time to make sure it’s performing properly. Whenever you see a plugin advertising itself as “lightweight,” that’s tech speak for very little code, thus very little added load time.

Broken Link Checker

The Broken Link Checker is a great plugin that you can install and run periodically. It will search your site and check every link and report back to you any broken links that need to be repaired or removed.

As you know, it dents your credibility for a link on your site to come up with an error. External links are forgivable, since your reader knows you might have linked some content that has since disappeared through no fault of your own.

If there are any internal broken links, that makes you look much worse. Avoid them all by sweeping for them from time to time and fixing even very old posts. Per the caveat above, this is exactly the kind of plugin that is indispensable, but doesn’t have to be installed and activated 24/7 in order to work for you.

 

Redirection

When I first tried to use WordPress, I didn’t get the concept. I’ve worked as a software developer and built my fair share of websites. So the whole “new page,” “new post” GUI made no sense to me.

To me, a “new page” was an empty notepad file and I got to build it from scratch. WordPress asks you to create content in this tiny little box within your page, while it “takes care of” all the functional parts of the site around your content.

That’s every bit of what you intended to do, but there are a handful of times when you want to display some “naked” or custom content without leaving your site. Redirection allows you to create pages like this one, which looks like “http://mediascover.com/subscribe/” but behind the scenes, redirects you to “http://eepurl.com/bvnWy9” without you knowing.

This is called a “pass-through” redirect, and it is useful for folding special pages into your site without going through WordPress’s theme. The plugin offers other kinds of redirects as well.

 

External Link Checker

Every time you create a link in WordPress, there is a checkbox that says “open link in new tab.” SEO considerations aside, the rule of thumb is to open external links in a new tab so that your website stays open in the original tab, thus the user hasn’t truly yet left your site.

For your own internal links, you want the user to transition from page to page without annoying them with an explosion of new tabs each time. What This Amazing Plugin does is search through the hundreds of links on your blog and find any that violate this rule of thumb so that you can fix them.

The only problem is This Amazing Plugin does not exist. I’ve found dozens of plugins that, when activated, scan the page as the user loads it and make this change, but the change is not saved permanently. What I want is a plugin which, like the Broken Link Checker, I can install & run periodically to catch mishaps without having to leave it permanently activated. If you find such a plugin, or decide to make one on this inspiration, please contact me about it!

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

Victor Davis is the author of one short story collection, Grains of Sand, and is publishing a second book, The Gingerbread Collection, in the spring of 2016. He shares his writing and reading adventures at his blog Mediascover. You can find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads. His Books & Stories are available on AmazonApple iBooksSmashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

Folder Gallery Plugin

wordpress for writers

 

In order to use this plugin, it is a good idea to first implement the Media File Manager plugin from last week.

Let’s say you want to show a collection of photographs on your site, like a Facebook album. There are plugins that allow you to create galleries by selecting a group of images from a list. If you have many images, this can be cumbersome, and if you have to upload new versions of some of the images, you have to re-add them to the gallery.

The Folder Gallery Plugin allows you to create a gallery by pointing it to a folder. The gallery displays all the images in that folder. Here is an example of the plugin in action:

 

Folder Gallery Plugin

 

At the bottom of the linked page, you will see the images above lined up in neat rows and columns. To create the album, I simply uploaded all the images to a single directory using cPanel File Manager, and used a single line of code in the WordPress post to display them. Notice (below) how it’s simply the “foldergallery” short code with two parameters, and that’s it, dozens of images spill out of that one line!

 

Screenshot from 2016-01-31 20:21:53

 

The plugin takes care of the rest. Importantly, I didn’t even have to go through WordPress’s Media section in order to upload the photos.

However, if you want to make a gallery of photos already existing on your website, see last week’s post to learn how to consolidate a group of scattered files into a single directory.

This plugin also requires what it calls a “Gallery Engine.” This is just the necessary plugin that pulls up a lightbox when you click on each image. Though it’s too simplistic for me to write a separate post about it, I use the Easy Fancybox plugin for this.

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

Victor Davis is the author of one short story collection, Grains of Sand, and is publishing a second book, The Gingerbread Collection, in the spring of 2016. He shares his writing and reading adventures at his blog Mediascover. You can find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads. His Books & Stories are available on AmazonApple iBooksSmashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

Media File Manager Plugin

WordPress-PluginsThis is going to be a technical one, but it’s totally worth it in order to use next week’s plugin.

The Media File Manager allows you to move files among the subdirectories of your site. Sound simple? It’s as simple as it should be. One of my biggest complaints about WordPress when I first started using it was the chaotic way in which it stored files in the backend. If I’m leasing server space, and I have access to cPanel’s File Manager, then I should be able to treat it just like I do Dropbox or an external hard drive, and create whatever folder structure makes sense to me for my site.

Suppose, for example, you have several books and you want to store all the book cover images in one place. If you’ve uploaded them all on different days (of course), then wordpress has buried them in a date-based folder scheme such as wp-uploads/2014/08/09/my-cover.jpg.

That makes it nearly impossible to organize yourself later. A year or two down the road, your Media section might contain hundreds of images, from icons to photographs to book covers etc., with no grouping whatsoever.

As this screenshot shows, the Media File Manager plugin allows you to create & delete folders, and move files among them.

 

Screenshot from 2016-01-31 19:49:13

 

Why not do all this from cPanel’s File Manager?

WordPress does not automatically recognize its own subdirectories. If you try to move a file using cPanel you’ll notice that your Media section will act as if nothing happened, and you’ll see an “image not found” error instead of your image. This is because WordPress stores the location of each file in its database. For every change you make in your folder structure, the plugin registers those changes in WordPress’s database behind the scenes.

For example, let’s say down the line you’ve published five books and hired a cover designer to redo each one for a clean, consistent second edition look-and-feel. If all your covers are in one place, then you can use cPanel to upload & overwrite the old with the new and WordPress will never even know you’ve swapped them out.

That’s the non-technical advantage to using technical tools to keep the backend of your site clean and easy to navigate.

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

Victor Davis is the author of one short story collection, Grains of Sand, and is publishing a second book, The Gingerbread Collection, in the spring of 2016. He shares his writing and reading adventures at his blog Mediascover. You can find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads. His Books & Stories are available on AmazonApple iBooksSmashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

 

The WP Post Series Plugin

Author blogging

Photo Courtesy of codegeekz.com

 

For our first installment, let’s take a look at how these articles, the ones you are reading right now, are serialized.

You are a writer/blogger, and you already know how to use tags and categories to organize your blog, and WordPress already ships with built-in tools for organizing them.

Great! But now you want to drill deeper.

Within your “blog” or “technical” or “publishing tools” category, you want to write a connected series of articles. Perhaps you think of it as a sub-category, something that technically qualifies as “technical” but needs to be cordoned off in some way from the other technical posts. Perhaps order matters, and you intend to create a 10-part series of posts that are best consumed in a specific order.

The WP Post Series plugin is your gal.

To start, let me mention that just as any other plugin, there are lots of plugins that do this. Some have lots of downloads, others none. Some have great ratings & reviews, others poor. The one I recommend is actually not the most highly rated or the most downloaded.

I previously tried a bigger, more popular plugin, and I didn’t like it as much as WP Post Series. This could be because of my theme. Here is an example of the plugin in action.

I love the subtlety of the layout. There is a simple but very noticeable box at the top of each post in the series stating, “This is post X of Y in the series Awesome Series Title.” When you click on this box, the rest of the posts appear hyperlinked in a table of contents.

So, if your reader stumbled across post #6 of a twelve-part series, he can quickly and easily determine that he is on post six, and that there are twelve posts in the series. This allows him to easily choose whether to go to the next post in the series, the previous post, or the first post. It requires minimal formatting for you, and minimal searching for your readers.

The other advantage I liked right away about this plugin, besides the look of the final result, is this: bulk editing. You may have first looked for a plugin like this because a ten-part series you’d already written has gotten buried on your site. If that’s true, then as soon as you install & activate, you are going to want to turn it on for ten posts, which involves a lot of clicking & waiting.

This plugin changes what’s called the WordPress taxonomy, which means it adds “series” as a new type of organization on par with categories and tags. This means that the bulk edit feature works out of the box. Take a look at the following screen shot:

 

WP Post Series

 

 

After installing WP Post Series, all you have to do is go to “posts,” check each box beside the posts you want to serialize, and select “bulk edit,” and WordPress presents you with the built-in bulk edit feature where you can serialize all of them at the same time, from the same screen. By design, the plugin will order the series chronologically.

Other plugins offer the “feature” of creating a custom order, but I see this as another setup headache. If you want to reorder the series, it’s as easy as fudging the publication dates, and the series will follow suit.

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

Victor Davis is the author of one short story collection, Grains of Sand, and is publishing a second book, The Gingerbread Collection, in the spring of 2016. He shares his writing and reading adventures at his blog Mediascover. You can find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads. His Books & Stories are available on AmazonApple iBooksSmashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

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