Estimated read time: 15 minutes
In my Content Performance Culture book, I talk about the importance of efficient workflows. That included writing and editing directly in the WordPress Content Management System. Every time we copy and paste content there’s a chance for mistakes. And who needs more mistakes in content?
That’s why I’m a big proponent of doing content creation directly in WordPress. That includes editing Some people will say that’s not possible. There are too many people involved. You can’t see tracked changes.
Some of those are valid concerns, of course, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be overcome or the new workflow is actually easier.
In this article, I discuss:
- How to edit in WordPress (and see changes)
- Things to consider when using WordPress as your CMS
- Using the Classic Editor
- Adding links
- Upload issues and how to overcome them
- Stock art
Why are some not creating in the WordPresss Content Management System?
Content expert Carrie Hane, of Sanity.io, discussed the topic on a podcast episode. It often comes down to the current workflows, which usually have been around for a bit and people using the tools they are used to. That often is Google Drive or Word documents. Creators have written in those for years and that’s a habit that would have to be changed.
Tracked changes when you edit in WordPress
It’s true, as far as I know, that there are no tracked changes like Word or Google Drive offers. But you can actually see easily what was edited in an article, by going to the history and looking at the latest two next two each other.
So you can easily see what was changed. Now, the biggest drawback might be that you can’t accept or decline individual changes. But you could and maybe should read the whole thing again anyway before finally hitting the publish button.
Why do we need to double-check minor edits anyway? And let’s hope your editor is not just editing for preference but for performance.
Updating existing articles in WordPress
I’m a big fan of updating old content when it makes sense as opposed to writing something new. Especially if the topic has already been covered on the site! Don’t create the same stuff over and over. Focus new content creation on new content and update older content with new information.
There are really two ways of doing that.
- Update the existing post live.
- Make a copy.
If you just make a few changes here and there, editing live and updating the post is probably fine. If your updates are a complete re-write with serious additions and subtractions you might prefer to have somebody read the new version before pushing it live.
The way to do that is to go to the post in the dashboard, hover over it and click COPY. This might also show as DUPLICATE. This isn’t a Core function of WordPress but comes as part of the Yoast, Jetpack, and other add-on plugins.
That copies the entire post as a draft and you can now work on it there. Keep in mind that once you publish it to delete the old post. Also make sure the URL is the same so the old post redirects to the new post.
By default, the copied post will grab the headline as the URL. So this post’s headline is:
To write and edit in WordPress can help with content performance and efficiency
But the actual URL is:
Just be sure to update the new draft to that.
Things to consider when you edit in WordPress as your CMS
I love WordPress for its ease of use and the easier we make content creation, the more we set it up to have a chance to succeed.
Usually, companies that use WordPress follow one of these approaches:
- Use WordPress out of the box and have very few customizations.
- Use a drag-and-drop builder like Elementor to build the site.
- Hire somebody to build a completely personalized WordPress site.
All of these approaches have positives and negatives.
- WordPress out of the box actually offers a lot of good things. But the moment we start customizing and bending it one way or another we’re setting ourselves up for a lot of extra work and even disappointment.
- Some drag-and-drop editors are easier to use than others.
- And if you bend WordPress one way or another, make sure there’s good documentation or more than one person know how to update and fix things.
Here’s my approach to any kind of enhancements to my out-of-the-box WordPress site:
Whenever I want to test a new placement or a new feature, I simply think about the options I already have available. I also take a look through the plug-in repository.
Sometimes a plug-in that actually addresses what I’m trying to accomplish already exists. So I simply download it and test it. If it doesn’t slow down my site or even worst crashes I’ll use it.
But I don’t push this very far. I try not to fiddle with the code or make custom updates that might later break the site or make future updates more difficult.
Right or wrong, this is the right approach for me on this blog. I can focus most of my time on content creation, writing books and producing podcasts as opposed to updating the site and figuring out how to actually accomplish an update.
On the flipside, we can build a complete custom site in WordPress. Obviously, that will cost more, will take longer and requires development help for any future updates.
The other thing that happens when we totally build a site as a custom site is that new features that are rolled out and new plug-ins that are added might not work as easily as they would on an out-of-the-box site.
But building a custom site has advantages because you have much more control over how things should look and should work. The biggest drawback is it costs more money and takes a lot longer to implement.
You could also do a mix of the two ways of implementing WordPress.
- Grab a free (or premium) template
- Customize that for your specific needs
The problem I found with this approach however is that it sometimes can take just as long as building a site from scratch. It could even cost more.
That’s something to consider as well as you are deciding which route to go.
Using the WordPress Classic Editor
When WordPress rolled out a new editor – called Gutenberg – I was not a fan. It’s just like Wix – a website drag-and-drop builder. I’ve used it with a client and we both were scratching our heads why they even built something so hard to use. That was Wix. Now WordPress has it too. Not sure, why it’s needed and to me it feels like it’s making content creation harder with its boxes and whatnot. Now everything is about blocks. The concept might actually help with atomizing content down the road but I don’t know if that was the intent. I also thought it was way too hard to use.
Now, if you use Gutenberg with your team it’s even more important to create and edit in WordPress directly.
But there’s an easy way around it. WordPress offers the old editor as plugin. It’s called classic editor plugin. I simply installed that and so had over 700,000 others by the time I did this shortly after 5.0 came out.
Overall, people were thankful that this exists and I’m with them on that. Some of the initial reviews:
As you know I use the WordPress app for most of my content creation. It also has Gutenberg installed but it’s easy to use the classic version there as well.
If you are having trouble with the Gutenberg editor, try installing the classic editor and maybe use the mobile app more.
You can also use Yoast in WordPress to directly grade your content. This is another way for writers to make sure content is on track. And for editors, too. Each person can see if all signs are green. When you edit and green turns to orange or red, it’s time to reconsider an edit.
Another advantage and reason to edit in WordPress have to do with links. When you edit in WordPress you can see what’s linked and to where and see if it makes sense. Some links of course are within the copy, others are images and then I ran across this wonderful WordPress function shared below by accident. They make my related links so much prettier with less work!
You may have seen my related posts in articles. Usually, they look like this:
Related content: Headline blah blah blah <<< this is linked
That’s not super visual and sometimes it’s fine. Another strategy is to link phrases of relevance within articles. I like that strategy. Graphical elements within articles can also entice people to click on over to something else. But there’s another way, that is directly generated when you edit in WordPress.
Simply paste an article link into the editor and that gives you a graphic that is clickable. Make sure your excerpt is the way you want it and you have a relevant image with your post.
You can click on the article and go straight over to the article to read it. Clicking the share button allows you to embed the share graphic on your own site:
That’s kind of cool and seems to be easy even for others who see the share box. Simply copying and pasting the URL into my WordPress editor and you get that card is obviously easy. It only seems to work with links from other WordPress sites. I tried it with a DNN link and it didn’t work.
Why writers should add links
I’m a big fan of dividing and conquering when it comes to digital content marketing. And one of those ways is to have:
- one person does the content gathering
- another the content creation
- and a third the publishing and syndication.
That makes sense in theory and to a degree in practice.
By way of example:
- I used to go in the field and interview subject matter experts.
- I would then feed the video and/or audio back to a writer in the office to write it up.
- Then it would go to digital specialists to post on the web and distribute.
The digital role in this model works on the more technical things (if posting an article is still considered that) and other strategies to drive traffic and engagement (readers clicking along).
So far so good. But here’s what’s hard for digital-leaning roles: Adding links within the context of the story written by somebody else.
Sure, they can add them but doing it within context means rewriting, which leads me to think that this is a task for writers (the content creators). I was thinking about this as I was writing and scheduling a post on parking technology:
I added links but the links came from me mentioning something that I had already written about.
See, it was highly deliberate. Part of that was me remembering this content.
I thought about what I wanted to say next and then thought about the bank of existing content I have already written about. I can’t say I close to remember every article. But I remember topics and the potential that I have already covered something.
Then as I’m writing those related articles come to mind.
First, I wanted to quote and link to one of my books. That’s the link on “customer-focused.”
Then I linked to an article on getting free upgrades. That link is highly within context and if I didn’t add that sentence as a writer how would my digital person know about it?
Adding links with correct anchor text is easy enough in WordPress.
Then finally I added a link to a mileage run story – also within context. That’s one link to a customer service book page and two to related but not necessarily obviously linked stories – until the writer works them into the flow.
The next two links in that story follow a similar methodology.
Of course, more engagement points/ calls to action can be added.
- Tweetable quotes
- Testing of conversion CTAs
- And more
That could fall to strategists, though, why aren’t writers just adding them?
And writing certainly has never been harder.
Write for keyword or at least with keywords in mind.
Is anyone reading? If not, why not?
And now we have to add links? Yup, and get pictures. And I’m probably missing something.
No wonder some companies are calling writers now content strategists.
And leave aside that writing can be much harder than editing!
I don’t mean to pile on but the more I do this myself, I don’t see how this is not something writers would do for their stories destined for the web.
In fact, it helps me write and flush out my content.
Thinking about existing content also makes me evaluate if a story even needs to be written. Maybe I already wrote about it? That story could be updated? Or maybe that story is similar enough that I can save my time writing this one? Or I can combine them?
It’s the new digital world we live in. In print journalism, we would write similar – near identical at times – stories. That’s not needed in digital and may even hurt SEO traffic.
Another reason it’s better to edit in WordPress has to do with the images and the layout. It’s hard to imagine the entire experience when you are only looking at the words in a Word document. It’s easier to understand it when you look at the full article, including clickable tweets, images, etc.
I’m still not a fan of routinely using stock art images in any kind of digital storytelling. Of course, there are reasons why we might need an image and can even find a good one, but what’s the point of using that group photo of a diverse group of smiling professionals pointing at the laptop in front of them? There isn’t. Especially why are they that close to each other anyway – COVID and all?
How to overcome this common image upload error in WordPress posts
I’m a fan of using images that help us tell stories and that are original. I use photos on here all the time! And it’s easier and easier to get them. I always have a camera (aka my iPhone) with me.
The problem with WordPress image uploads…
For a while now, I’ve run into problems uploading some pictures to my blog – which is a self-hosted WordPress site. I have no idea why this is happening but I found a way to upload the images after continuously getting the error message.
First, here’s how the error looks: I try to upload images directly in the post when I’m writing. In the mobile app, this problem doesn’t appear to exist. On desktop, it looks like the image is uploading and then I get an error message:
Once that happens, trying again doesn’t work either. The solution is easy, though. Simply go to the MEDIA LIBRARY on your dashboard and add the images there:
Then simply go back to your saved draft and add the images from the existing files area. Easy breezy workaround.
Stock art images
There are plenty of ways now to get useful and free images and I discussed how to make stock images work for your blog.
I’m still not a fan of an over-dependency of stock art images but I’m also a fan of showing new tools and strategies when it comes to content marketing. And I’m especially a fan of sharing mobile content creation tips.
This new WordPress feature is definitely falling into those last two favorites. So with that, I wanted to share how you can easily add stock art images and search a database of them by keywords without ever leaving your WordPress dashboard.
WordPress in the mobile WordPress app has rolled out an integration with pexels.com – a free stock art image and video site.
Here’s how to find stock images for your posts from within the app
In the post, click the + in the bottom left of the menu bar and then click the three dots. (Remember all kinds of things are hidden behind three dots or the hamburger menu).
From there you get a screen alerting you of the new functionality and availability of stock images.
Other apps just lead you to the saved files area on your phone or tablet.
Click on free photo library and you go here:
From there you can search for terms that you need to find a photo of. In this example, I searched for computer.
You get a number of options to choose from – mostly for decorative purposes. Some don’t appear to be an exact match but there still appear to be plenty of options
These images likely will not help in Google image search results but will help with the look of the article.
If your website has featured image spots that might be another place where you can use them. I do have those spots on my site and I hardly ever use them but this is one way to pretty it up a little bit more.
Currently, you can’t pick the pictures directly from the stock library while in the featured image area in the app but you can certainly pick the stock image from an article first and then add it to your library before adding it as a featured picture.
This strategy might be another way to really maximize your content production time and I would highly recommend trying it if you are in need of images and don’t have any available. I will try it here and there and maybe it will make my posts look better.
Workflows are always evolving – or should be. If your team is using a workflow that hasn’t been updated in a few years, it’s probably time. Moving the creation directly into WordPress is helpful.