Blogging for Expats: WordPress Settings to Know and Love

WordPress logoIn this installment of Blogging for Expats, the tutorial series to help you develop a portable income from a blog, let’s go back to WordPress itself and finish setting it up.

You’ve already accomplished a lot in getting your blog started. You have

WordPress Settings

Log in to your WordPress Dashboard. On the left you’ll see a tab labeled Settings. Click to expand it if it’s not already open.

In the Settings dropdown list you’ll see

  • General
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Discussion
  • Media
  • Privacy
  • Permalinks

If you followed my previous advice and installed the Secure WordPress plugin, you’ll see it listed as well. Other plugins may add to this list, but for now we’ll just discuss the ones that are part of WordPress itself.

General

The General Settings tab lets you tell WordPress some of the most basic information about how you want your website presented.

Site Title

This is your website’s name — not its domain, but its name. This site is Future Expats Forum. It’s the name you want people to see immediately when they arrive at your home page, usually found on the left-hand side of the header.

Some examples:

  • The German Way Expat Blog
  • The American Resident
  • Diary of a British Expatriate in Finland
  • Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua

Your blog title should have a close relationship with your domain name to help with SEO (search engine optimization), which we’ll discuss later on.

Tagline

This is the short, descriptive phrase that often follows the site’s title. You don’t absolutely have to have a tagline, but most of us do.

My tagline is “Create an Untethered Life Overseas.” Taglines for the sites I listed above are

  • Discussing Expat Life in German-Speaking Europe
  • Parenting. Homemaking. Living. Overseas!
  • Discover Finland
  • Life is a beach on Ometepe Island
WordPress Address (URL)

This is the actual URL for your blog. The default is http://yoursite.com/wordpress. Don’t change it.

Site Address (URL)

The default is the same as the WordPress address. Leave it alone for now. Later we’ll discuss whether you should consider changing it.

Email Address

This is the email address you want WordPress to use to send you notices. When you set up your hosting, you can set up email addresses for your domain, and you should do so. However, here I recommend using an email address that is not associated with the domain. There are plenty of free ways to get email if you need it — GMail, Yahoo, MSN and Hotmail are just a few.

Membership

Best to leave this box unchecked, for now at least.

New User Default Role

If you don’t permit memberships, no need to bother with this either.

Timezone

This is self explanatory. Find your proper time zone in the drop down box and select it. Then double check what shows up on the screen to make sure it’s showing the right time for where you are.

Date Format, Time Format, Week Starts On

Pick your personal preferences for each of these.

All done? Remember to Save Changes!

Writing

The Writing Settings tab sets up the back end of WordPress to accommodate your preferences in creating and uploading content to the blog. We’re going to leave everything set to the defaults for now.

Reading

The Reading Settings tab determines how WordPress will serve your content to readers.

Front Page Displays

You can choose whether you want your home page to look like a regular blog page or not.

If you want your homepage to show your latest posts, select Your Latest Posts. If you want to set up a homepage that’s unique and doesn’t show your latest posts in a blog style, select Static Page.

If you choose a static page, you have two additional choices to make.

Blog Pages Show at Most and Syndication Feeds Show the Most Recent

Here you choose how many posts you want to show on a page, and how many feed items (think, tweets or RSS links) you want to show. The default is 10.

For Each Article in a Feed, Show

Do you want the entire blog post to show on the home page? Or just the first few lines with a “read more” button or link? Choose full text to show the entire post, summary to show just the beginning.

Encoding for Pages and Feeds

The default is UTF-8, no need to change it.

Hit the Save Changes button, and move on. . .

Discussion

The Discussion Settings control who is able to comment on a post and how you’re notified about it.

The first thing you should decide is whether you want to allow comments at all. If you do — and, frankly, one of the benefits of running a blog is the ability to interact with your site visitors — here’s where you set the rules.

I’m not going to tell you what to do here. Every blog topic and audience is different, after all. But you should familiarize yourself with what’s on this page, because you may find later you want to change the way people comment on your site.

Media

Most themes will override the settings for thumbnails. (Thumbnails are the images that WordPress displays at the beginning of the post.) We won’t do anything with them right now.

Look at the Embeds section, though. Usually you’ll want this checked off so that video and audio files will “live” on your page.

Use the defaults for Uploading Files, and check that you want files organized by year and month.

Save your changes. . .

Privacy

This tells WordPress whether you want search engines to access your site. Eventually, of course you do, but for now, select “I would like to block search engines.” You’ll go back and change it when you’re ready to launch your new blog.

Permalinks

Permalinks tell WordPress what kind of URL you want each page of your site to have. It’s an important decision, because it will make it easier (or harder) for people to type a page URL into their browser window.

Some web pages have a lot of funky numbers, question marks and other symbols in their addresses — not very friendly. Others use actual words and are much easier for readers to type and other websites to link to.

You can change your permalink style later, but you risk irritated readers and dead links if you do so.

You can find a more thorough explanation of permalinks here.

Here’s my recommendation for most blogs: choose custom structure and type in

/%year%/%postname%

Save your changes.

Next time, we’ll start adding content!

If you’ve missed any previous installments of Blogging for Expats, you can find them here.

Comments

  1. thanks for this post and including the other older “getting started” posts. i made the mistake of buying the domain name and hosting from wordpress, so now i cant add the all in one SEO plugin. it kinda sucks because that’s what i wanted to practice. any suggestions?

    • Hi Mack, I’ve been traveling so sorry about not replying sooner. When you say you bought the domain name and hosting from WordPress, do you mean it’s hosted on WordPress.com? If that’s the case, I would suggest moving to a self-hosted WordPress-based site.

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