You’re a WordPress blogger.
You’re a also writer. A researcher. A marketer. A designer. A webmaster. A search engine optimizer.
Oh, and on top of that, you’re probably either employed full-time or are running a small business associated with that blog of yours. Am I right?
You wear a lot of hats and have a lot of responsibilities. It’s crucial to do things as efficiently as possible so you can make the most of your precious time.
Well guess what: there are tons of WordPress tools and features that help you spend less time on the tedious tasks like formatting and scheduling blog posts. Read on for my favorite WordPress secrets that will help you blog better, faster, and smarter.
1. Set Default Post Categories
You’ve probably noticed that WordPress automatically selects “uncategorized” as the category when you create a new post.Usually, you select the proper category, hit “publish,” and you’re good.
But what if you forget?
If you don’t change the category before publishing, your post gets thrown into a categorical no mans land. Sure, it will still show up at the top of your blog page for now. But once it gets pushed off the first page and into the archives, it’ll be difficult for your readers to ever find it again.
Fortunately, forgetful bloggers, you can change the default category for new posts.
- From your dashboard, navigate to Settings > Writing.
- Look for the dropdown called Default Post Category.
- Select your desired category and click Save Changes.
If you primarily post in one category, this is incredibly useful. For example, most of my posts get categorized in WordPress. I have other categories, like Social Media and SEO, but I only post there much less frequently.
I set my default post category to WordPress, and now 90% of the time I don’t have to change it.
I know what you’re thinking. Choosing a post category takes all of what? Five seconds? But the checklist of things to do when creating blog posts is looooong. If you can make that list a little shorter by setting a default category for your WordPress posts, why not?
2. Schedule Posts in Advance
We all know how crucial it is to consistently publish new content. If you’re like most bloggers, you probably try to stick to some sort of schedule. Maybe that’s posting once a day, once a week, or once a month.
But staying on top of that editorial calendar can be challenging, especially when life or business get busy.
With WordPress, there’s no reason to miss publishing a post because you were busy, on vacation, or just plain forgot. You can write WordPress posts in ahead of time and schedule them to automatically publish at any date and time in the future.
- While in the post editor, navigate to the Publish box in the upper right. Click the edit link next to Publish immediately.
- Choose the date and time in the future when your post should publish. Click OK.
- Notice that it now says Schedule for: instead of Publish immediately. Also, the Publish button now says Schedule. Click Schedule.
3. Recover Old Post Versions
Lost your post because you accidentally hit delete or forgot to click save? WordPress has got you covered.
WordPress has two b-e-a-utiful features: revisions and autosave.
When you save a WordPress post, it doesn’t just overwrite the previous version. It makes what it calls a revision.
Revisions are essentially post backups. They’re saved and stored every time you update a post (whether it’s a draft or published), making it easy to access old versions of your posts. You can even compare revisions to see the changes between them.
There are 2 ways to view your post revisions:
1. Go to the Publish box. Find where it says Revisions and click Browse. From there you can compare different revisions and restore from a previous revision.
2. Scroll down to the Revisions box below the WYSIWYG editor. It will list all of your post revisions. It even flags autosaves. If you don’t see the Revisions box, you need to activate it in your Screen Options.
WordPress stores your content even when you forget to click save, your browser crashes, or you lose internet connection.
The autosave feature saves your changes every 2 minutes. Just look at the bottom right corner of the editor. It will tell you the last time your post was saved.
If WordPress notices that you made unsaved changes, it will alert you and ask if you want to restore the autosave.
Note: Too many revisions can bog down your website. WordPress will keep a maximum of 25 post revisions and 1 autosave of each post.
4. Format Faster with Shortcuts
WordPress has always supported standard keyboard shortcuts like copy, paste, and und0.
More recently, though, they added formatting shortcuts that you can use to create headings and lists directly from your keyboard.
This feature was added during an update in August 2015, but I’ve found that many WordPress users don’t know about it. I’m telling you, they are missing out. This trick saves me so much time it’s not even funny.
You can create an ordered (numbered) or unordered (bulleted) list by typing the shortcut symbol on an empty line and then pressing the space bar.
- Hit enter/return. These shortcuts only work when they’re done on a new line.
- Type the shortcut symbol. For example, if I wanted to create a unordered list, I would type *
- Press the space bar. The shortcut symbol will automatically turn into a list.
You can create headings by typing the shortcut symbol, followed by your heading, and then pressing enter.
- Hit enter/return. These shortcuts only work when they’re done on a new line.
- Type the shortcut symbol. For example, if I wanted to create a Heading 2, I would type ## My Heading
- Press enter. The shortcut symbol will automatically turn into a list.
You’ll notice that WordPress doesn’t provide a shortcut for Heading 1. There should only be one Heading 1 on a page. This is typically defined by the post title, so you should avoid using Heading 1 in your post content.
Note: If you forget, you can view all keyboard shortcuts by clicking the question mark icon in the editor toolbar.
5. Write Without Distractions
From email to Facebook to text messages, there are plenty of distractions to keep you from staying focused and getting your work done. Trust me, you don’t need any more.
Distraction-free mode won’t eliminate all the distractions in your life, but it will eliminate all the distractions on the page.
Distraction-free writing mode gets rid of all the clutter in your WordPress dashboard so you can concentrate on the post in front of you. It hides everything except for the WYSIWYG editor.
Honestly, it’s stupid what such a little change can do to get you focused and put you in the writing mindset.
To activate distraction-free writing mode, click the icon in the upper right corner of the WYSIWYG editor.
Note: I’ve mentioned this tool before in my post about How to Use the WordPress Visual Editor, which includes tons of other nifty WordPress tips.
6. Customize Your Post Excerpt
You probably know that WordPress grabs the first 55 words of your post and uses them as an excerpt on your blog page.
(The default length is 55 words. Your excerpt might be shorter or longer depending on your theme customizations.)
Automation is everything, so this is great…except for when the first few sentences of your post don’t do the best job of summarizing your post. Sometimes you’ll want to write a custom excerpt to draw readers in.
- While in the post editor, scroll down to a the metabox titled Excerpt. If you don’t see it, you may need to activate it in your Screen Options.
- Type in your custom excerpt.
- That’s it. Your custom excerpt will save when you save your post.
Note: Post excerpts are only relevant if your blog page shows excerpts. If your blog page shows the full post content, then setting a custom excerpt won’t do anything.
Double Note: I ALWAYS recommend displaying post excerpts instead of full posts on your blog page. Displaying full posts is bad for business. There are two main reasons why:
- Usability: When new visitors view your blog page, they’re trying to find out who you are and what your blog is about. They can’t do that if make it next to impossible to see more than just your most recent post. It’s unlikely that your most recent post can single-handedly define your blog, so you’re not doing yourself justice.
- Analytics: If a reader can read your entire post on your blog page (without clicking through to the actual post), it gets really difficult to track analytics. It’s hard to know what people are reading when you see a ton of hits on amandaschoedel.com/blog? But if you force them to click through to amandaschoedel.com/blog/post-name? Now you’re getting accurate data.
7. Edit Multiple Posts at Once
Sometimes you want to edit individual post details, like the title, category, or publish date but don’t need to edit the actual post itself.
Quick edit is a time-saving way to edit posts, either individually or in bulk, without opening the full post editor.
With quick edit, you can change:
- and more
I honestly think quick edit is one of the most overlooked and underrated WordPress features, which is why I wrote a complete guide to editing posts with quick edit. If you’re interested in really increasing your WordPress efficiency, check it out.
8. Stick Featured Content to the Top of Your Blog
Sticky posts are like pinned tweets. They allow you to “stick” a post to the top of your blog page, so it will always be the first post, even as new ones are published.
This isn’t necessarily a tool that you’ll use every day, but it’s great for highlighting posts that you really want people to see. It’s perfect for posts that feature a giveaway or promote a new product or service.
- While in the post editor, navigate to the Publish box in the upper right. Click the edit link next to Visibility.
- Check the box labeled Stick this post to the front page. Click OK.
- It should now say: Visibility: Public, Sticky. Click Publish.
9. Drag and Drop Images Right Into Your Post
That’s right. You don’t even have to click the Add Media button.
Just put the cursor where you want your image to be, and drag it right from your computer into the WordPress editor. The image will be added to your media library, and the media pop-up will appear, so you can add a title, caption, and alt tag.
Call this a tip for the super efficient or the super lazy. All I know is that every second counts, and this saves me precious time.