Tag Archives: wordpress

“What does ____ mean?” Definitions for new bloggers.

I'll never get all this blog stuff figured out

Are you a new blogger, or just trying to figure out how to set up a new blog, and feeling overwhelmed by the terms and acronyms being tossed your way? What’s a widget? What’s a theme? I wrote this post for you!

Some of these definitions are original, and some are copied in whole or in part from wikipedia.


back end / front end — The “back end” is the software that provides structure and function to the site. It’s not visible to the person reading your blog.  On a WordPress site, the back end is where you create pages and posts. The front end is all the pages that the blog reader sees.



captcha or CAPTCHA — This is an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.” It’s a test to ensure that the responder is a human and not a computer. The most familiar type of CAPTCHA is one which displays distorted letters or digits on the screen, and requires the user to type those same characters into an input box.

category — Categories in WordPress are used to identify and sort blog posts according to topics. They’re useful for people searching your site, and they can also be used as a way to generate pages in WordPress. For this reason, it’s a good idea to give your categories some careful thought as you’re setting up your blog, rather than creating them randomly as you go.

For example, I used the “desserts and treats” category on my food blog to create an index of all the recipes in that category:

'desserts and treats' category


content — This refers to the stuff that fills up your website. While technically it may refer collectively to words, pictures, documents, video, and so forth, it’s also sometimes used to refer just to the blog posts. “Compelling content” means having information people want or essays they appreciate, written in a way that’s attractive and useful to them.

phone-book-200x150DNS — “Domain Name System.” Think of it as the behind-the-scenes phone book for the internet: it connects human-friendly domains into computer-friendly addresses that networking equipment needs to find your website. (For more detail, see this post.)


domain — As commonly used, the human-readable “address” for a given website or webpage, the part that follows “www.”: for example, “pagenamehere.com”. (For more detail, see this post. For a simpler explanation, see this one.)

your website is like a camper
For a simple explanation of domains, themes, and hosting, see “How your website is like a camper“)

domain registration — The internet equivalent of copyrighting a company name. When you register a domain, you purchase the legal right to use that particular domain name, and prevent anyone else from using it. The company you pay for this service is your “Domain registrar.” (For more detail, see this post.)

framework  — A master or “parent” theme which allows you to create “child” themes: where all the functionality lives in the parent theme, and all the design code lives in the child theme — theoretically making it easier to change designs in the future. These can be timesavers for web developers who create lots of themes for their clients, but for the average blogger who’ll only ever create or update their own site, the additional time needed to learn the lingo and workings of the framework is likely to take up more time than it saves. (In my opinion.)

front end  — See “back end / front end.”

hosting  — The computer where your website lives and is accessed by users on the web. (For more detail, see this post. For a simpler explanation, see this one.)

IP address — Short for “internet protocol.” This is your website’s location on the internet, which is a string of numbers. eg: 123.456.89.010. When you change hosts, your IP address changes, even though your URL/domain does not. (For more detail, see this post.)

lead magnet — Not technically part of a website, but frequently recommended as a way to build your list of email subscribers. It’s something free you offer readers in exchange for their email address and possibly other information. It could be a one page list of your five best tips or your five things never to do, related to your blog topic. It could be a small e-book, a printable worksheet or set of labels,  a video or music file you’ve created. (It must be your own work — no stealing!)

plug-ins — Plug-ins are bits of code that can be added to self-hosted (WordPress.org) sites, which add capabilities that aren’t already built into WP. You don’t have to actually use code, though; adding a plug-in is as simple as clicking a few links.

(Plug-ins cannot be used in WordPress.com sites.)

WordPress.org has a searchable index containing all the available plug-ins.  Looking for a way to add a call-to-action to all of your posts? Go to the index and search “call to action.”

When you’re shopping for a plug-in, be sure to pay attention to how highly the plug-in is rated, how many times it’s been downloaded, and how recently it was last updated. (All this information is readily available there in the plug-in’s details page.) A plug-in that hasn’t been updated for a couple of years, for example, may not work with up-to-date versions of WordPress.

Plug-ins can sometimes cause other code in the site to break, though, so it’s a good idea to use them only as necessary, and be sure to vet them first, as described above.

SEO / search engine optimization — This refers to a variety of practices that are designed to help your website rank high in search engine results. In other words, show up on the first page of Google results. It’s a complex science, made so by the fact that Google is constantly changing the factors they consider for ranking results. This may seem unfair, but they do it to keep people from gaming the system.

Once new bloggers learn what SEO is and start reading about it, panic sets in. Never have three little letters caused so much anxiety! Let me offer you this reassurance, and a gentle warning. For the first year of your blog’s life, don’t worry about SEO. Just focus on writing for your reader, and a lot of other things will fall into place. Also, be very wary of people calling themselves SEO experts, consultants, etc. There are some legitimate ones, but they tend to be very expensive. The cheap ones usually do things that are not all that helpful, or that you could do yourself — once you’ve gotten more experienced at the other aspects of maintaining a blog.

(For a more detailed discussion, see this post: How to I get my site to show up on the first page of Google?)

tags  — In WordPress, tags are used for human search and to a lesser extent, search engine purposes. One aspect that makes them useful is if you want to include words that people might use as search terms that aren’t explicitly stated in your post. For example, I post a lot of sugar-free recipes on my food blog without talking about diabetes, but I put “diabetic” and “diabetes” in the tags, in case someone is searching for “desserts for diabetics.”

theme — A theme is a pre-made set of software that changes the look and design of your blog. There are thousands of themes available for self-hosted WordPress.org sites; fewer for WordPress.com sites, but still plenty of variety. (To understand the difference between the .org and .com WordPress, see this post.) Changing from one theme to another changes how your site looks without changing any of the content. You may, however, need to adjust image sizes and other details when changing themes.

You can also make a lot of design changes without changing themes. Most themes allow you to choose multiple fonts, color schemes, background images, and more. For example, these two earlier iterations of this website both used the same theme, but swapped out the header image, the background, and the headline font and color:

same theme, two looks

As a general rule, you usually get better support with paid themes than with free ones. (Though there are exceptions, in both directions.) Always pay attention to user reviews when shopping for a theme.

Two of my favorite sources for paid themes are ThemeForest and CreativeMarket. (I get credits if you purchase via my links, without adding one cent to your cost! Thanks for helping to support this website.)

URL — “Uniform Resource Locator” or “Universal Resource Locator.” The human-readable “address” for a given website or webpage: “www.pagenamehere.com”.

widget — This is the term WordPress uses to describe little self-contained areas on your website that can appear in the sidebar, footer, and sometimes in other locations.

For example, everything in my sidebar to the right is a widget: Recent Posts, Services I Recommend, and the Hope*Writer badge are all individual widgets. The Search box below in the footer is also a widget.

WordPress has an easy drag-and-drop way to add widgets to your website. Sometimes, you may need a little code, but you can always find someone to help you with that, either in a support forum, or on YouTube.

For example, here’s a short video I found on YouTube that shows you how to add an image to a widget:

WordPress — A software system that many websites are based on, providing an excellent structure for creating everything from simple blogs to large e-commerce websites. Learn about WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org here.

You might also want to follow my Pinterest boards:


Have a question that’s not answered here? Or need help with something that’s over your head? Ask me!


Or just request a no-obligation price list.


starting a blog - the basics

Starting a blog: the basics

I hope to eventually create my own tutorial, but today I discovered a fantastic resource that has tons of useful information for beginning bloggers – Amy Lynn Andrews. But she has SO much info it can be overwhelming, so rather than make you wait for my future course or wade through all of hers, I’ve curated her most basic, most pertinent information right here.

18 Tips for New Bloggers – Lots of reassurance and encouragement as you wade into this new world

How to Find (or Re-find) Your Passion – Great questions to help you explore what you care about enough to blog about long-term

How to Choose a Domain Name – And one place you can do so. (You might also refer to my post, Where should I register my domain?)

How to Start a Blog – VERY thorough; includes how to set up a self-hosted WordPress site.

The Trouble With Blogging – On comparing yourself against others

Hope you find this helpful! As always, please contact me with any questions you’d like to see answered here. Or if you’re ready for someone else to do the heavy lifting, request a free, no-obligation price list! 🙂


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How your website is like a camper: a simple explanation of some confusing terms

I’ve given a detailed explanation of web hosting, domain registration and such elsewhere. Here, I’d like to provide a simple word picture that might help make it simpler to understand.

Imagine that your website is a camper. It’s like a camper because it’s got contents, it has a style, it can be moved from one place to another, and it needs somewhere to park. Let’s also suppose that you’ve given your camper a name: Roadrunner.

The name is like your web address, also called a domain or URL. (See the aforementioned article for more a more detailed explanation. We’re keeping things simple here.) So when someone walks up to your camper, or arrives at your website, they know it’s yours because they recognize the name.

your website is like a camper

(I haven’t created  a graphic for it, but you could also change the name of your website/camper, everything else remains – it’s still your property.)

Maybe you start out with your camper in Monument Valley. But after a while, you get tired of the heat, so you decide to head to the Redwood Forest.

website is like a camper

Same camper, new location.

In the same way, a website can be moved from one host to another. If you get frustrated with some aspect of one host — say, their customer service leaves something to be desired — you can move your website elsewhere.

Now, let’s say you get tired of the yellow color scheme and the font on your sign, so you decide to change things up a bit.

same camper, new color; same website, new theme

This is like changing the theme, fonts, color scheme, or other design elements on your website. It still has the same contents, the same name, and the same location, just different styling.

WordPress sites make it pretty easy to make small design tweaks. Depending on the theme you’re using, you may only be able to change a few things, or you may be able to make significant changes. Look under “Appearances” in the navigation on the lefthand side of your WordPress back end to see what options are available.

If you want some changes that are more complicated than you can do — or you’d just like some friendly coaching while you learn — I know someone who can help!  😉

Contact me.

Request a price list.


See more help for beginning bloggers.



Where should I register my domain?

Domains are sometimes also called URLs (Uniform Resource Locator). You’re familiar with domains; they look like this:

  • amazon.com
  • yahoo.net
  • ku.edu

To make sure that you have the legal right to use a particular domain name, and prevent anyone else from using it, you need “domain registration.”

“Domain registration” is the internet equivalent of copyrighting a company name. The company you pay for this service is your “domain registrar” or “designated registrar.”

There are many places to purchase a domain name and register it. You can purchase it through your host, or a place that specializes in domain registration, such as name.com. Both have the same effect: the name is yours for as long as you’ve reserved it and you keep paying your registration renewal before it expires. (Don’t worry; they’ll remind you!) The company you purchase it from will make sure your info is entered into the official registration database.

domain registration at name.com

Registering your domain is as simple as going to a website that sells domain registration, and typing the name you’re hoping to get in the field provided. They’ll immediately tell you whether it’s available or not. If it is, just click on the prompts that walk you through purchasing it. If not, take your time thinking through your alternate domain, and come back then.

You can purchase domain registration for a time period anywhere from one year on up. The maximum period of registration for a domain name is 10 years. Wikipedia says, “Some registrars offer longer periods of up to 100 years, but such offers involve the registrar renewing the registration for their customer; the 100-year registration would not be in the official registration database.”

In the past, there was some speculation that reserving your name for longer (a few to several years, vs. one year at a time) might benefit your Google ranking, but that seems to no longer be the case. (I’m relying on the advice of others here.)

Here’s what Nuts and Bolts Media has to say about whether you should register your domain at the same place you buy your hosting:

The Domain Registration Dilemma

When you set up hosting for a website, you can also register your domain through your host (most of the time). For a lot of people, keeping all your website stuff in the same place sounds like a good idea. You only have to keep up with one set of login information, and you know that your host’s technical support staff will make sure everything is configured correctly.

However, you also have the option to register your domain elsewhere and simply point it to your host. This is what I strongly recommend for a number of reasons.

Keep your domain in one place. If you ever get mad at your web host and decide to move your site, you’ll also probably want to transfer your domain if it’s registered with the old host. Domain transfers can be annoying, time-consuming, and confusing. But if you’ve registered the domain elsewhere, you don’t have to do anything except update your DNS settings to point to the new host.

Register all your domains together. You might be thinking, But I only have one website! That may be true, but for many of us, websites are addicting. For example, I own 45 domains right now. If I need to manage them, like when I transferred all my files to my new servers, I can just go to my registrar and mass update the DNS settings.

Added security. A few years ago, my dad’s website got hacked. Not only did the hackers destroy his site, but they also transferred his domain away from his web host and took it over. It took ages for him to prove ownership and get everything back. When your domains are separate, even if someone gets access to your files, your domains are safe (assuming you aren’t using the same login and password).

(This post is part of a longer post which also covers web hosting and DNS registration.)

Starbucks ice cream in four flavors

Which blog platform?

Trying to decide which blogging platform to build your blog or website on? The big four are:

  • Blogger
  • Tumblr
  • WordPress.com
  • WordPress.org

At first glance the options may seem about as different as four flavors of coffee ice cream, but dig a bit deeper to find out what really suits your needs best. (Before you get too stressed over this decision, though, remember this: you can always start on one platform, and switch to another later on as your needs change.)

Here are eight questions to get you started:

Do you need a blog that’s super, super simple to set up?

The simplest of all is Tumblr. Blogger and WordPress.com are pretty doggone easy, too.

Do you need free hosting?

Blogger, WordPress.com, or Tumblr are all free.

Do you want to make money on your blog with Google AdSense?

1st choice: Blogger (easier). 2nd choice: WordPress.org (more control).

Don’t care about selling ads now, but might want to later?

Start with WordPress.com, switch to WordPress.org when you’re ready.

Do you need wide-open design options?

Then count Blogger out. WordPress.org is the way to go. Tumblr is a very close second as far as themes are concerned, but has no flexibility in page types. WordPress.com has over a hundred themes, each varying in customability and page types.

Do you need multiple authors accessing the same blog?

Only WordPress.org and WordPress.com make this available.

Do you need online web forms?

WordPress.org and WordPress.com make this really easy.

Do you need to post documents such as pdf’s and powerpoints?

WordPress.org and WordPress.com make this just as easy as posting an image.

two choices

Have it narrowed down to two? Here are some comparisons.

WordPress.org vs. the world:

Okay, not the world really, but all of the other common blogging platforms. What makes WordPress.org (also known as “self-hosted WordPress”) distinctive from all the others is that with it, you have to purchase hosting, and install WordPress on that host. All the others host your blog/website for free. In addition to those responsibilities, you and your host-of-choice are the ones on whom falls the responsibility for security, back-ups, and upgrades. On the free-hosted platforms (Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress.com), that’s not your headache. The main advantage that WordPress.org has over all the others is limitless design options, as well as numerous plug-ins to extend the look and functionality of your site.

Blogger vs. WordPress.com:

Blogger is a little easier to use, but WordPress offers more design options. Also, Blogger integrates with Google AdSense (so you can sell ads); WordPress does not. For more details, see my Blogger vs. WordPress.com chart.

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org:

WordPress.com is free hosting; with a .org site, you need to purchase hosting, which will be an ongoing cost. However, you are allowed to sell advertising on a WP.org site, but not on a WP.com one. For more details, see my WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org chart.

Blogger vs. WordPress.org:

You will probably only be considering these two against each other if you must have the ability to sell ads on your site. Blogger has free hosting and is easier to learn and use; WordPress.org has infinitely more design options.

Tumblr vs. WordPress:

I can’t do better than this article. Although, ignore the “Content” paragraph. There are plenty of WordPress templates that are image-driven, and uploading media of any kind is a snap.

What about Tumblr?

The newcomer in the group, Tumblr has the most simple sign-up and posting process of all. It’s also geared more toward those who want to post primarily images and video, but it can also be used for a more traditional text-focused blog. You cannot place ads on a Tumblr site. BrandYourself did a Twitter survey of people’s opinions of Tumblr, and here’s what some of them had to say:

“People actually BLOG on Blogger, whereas Tumblr is more like a collection of random moving images and quotes of people’s emotions.” – @DoralyP

“Tumblr is a fun way to blog. I used WordPress… for more professional blogging.” – @ThomasConnery

“I think Tumblr is very simple to use and straightforward. I also think that its purpose is a little different than Blogger…I consider Tumblr a photo and video based blog more than a written type.” – @gazalle

More info about Tumblr vs. other platforms:

A thorough (though not totally up to date) assessment of Tumlbr vs. WordPress.

The Pros and Cons of Tumblr for small business.

Round 2 of Tumblr vs. WordPress vs. Blogspot: FIGHT!

Want more help sorting it all out and getting your website up and running?

Contact me!

WordPress.com vs. Blogger


If you want to go with free hosting and the quickest, easiest start to blogging, your two best options are Blogger and WordPress.com. Here are the main differences between a Blogger site and a WordPress.com site:

  WordPress.com   Blogger
Ads/selling: Can sell ads on your site, using Google AdSense no yes
  Can sell ad spots on your site, direct to advertiser yes, w/ limits yes
  Can sell paid or sponsored posts or content no yes
  Ad-free (ads that you don’t sell or control) for fee: $30/year yes
Design: Number of free templates available > 150 7
Design items you can alter on free template 2 to several* dozens
Number of premium templates available > 80 not available
Design items you can alter on premium template 2 to several* not available
Mobile: Built-in iPhone version yes yes
  Built-in Android smart phone version depends on theme yes
Built-in notepad version depends on theme no
Other: Built-in form maker yes no
* On WP.com, different themes offer different options which can be easily edited without code. All themes let you change the header image. Most themes let you change the link color and one or two other items. All themes are open to limitless design options for a $30/year fee.
Got questions? Contact me!

Event Espresso: Event management and registration

I’ve been researching event registration plug-ins for WordPress, and have settled on Event Espresso as the most promising option.

It offers several different license levels with different feature packages, but while they list pricing options and features on separate pages, they don’t seem to have that information integrated into one chart anywhere on the Event Espresso website. But there is one hidden within the back end, so I’ve recreated that here for you.

Event Espresso License Levels and PricesEvent Espresso license and pricing options

Learn more here.

By Jana Snyder


Disclosure: I am an affiliate and may receive a commission for sales made through some of the links in the post — but only because would recommend this plugin with or without compensation!

WordPress user roles


Administrator, Editor, Author… Can an Editor control pages? Can a Contributor delete media files? The various roles available to users of WordPress sites can be confusing.

I’ve created a simple chart outlining most of the common tasks involved in creating and maintaining a site, and showing which types of users are able to do what. Click on the image below to view it full size.


Hope this is helpful!

Should my entry be a post or a page?

The difference between posts and pages can sometimes be confusing — especially if your site uses custom menus that contain a mix of pages and categories.

So if you’re trying to figure out whether the new content you’re posting should be a post or a page, this post vs. page info graphic should help you figure that out. (Click the link to see the graphic as a large page.)


Note: These instructions are for a template which uses a “slider” (aka, slide show) on the home page. That criteria would also apply to a site that has one or more featured images on the home page. If your site has neither, just ignore that decision box.