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WordPress for Writers: Tips, Tricks, Plugins, and Hacks – Part 3

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on March 10, 2014 in Blog Management
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WordPress Tips and Hacks for Writers

We've already looked at WordPress basics and WordPress plugins for writers. In this third, and final, post in our series on WordPress for writers we'll look at a few tips, tricks, and hacks that didn't fit in anywhere else.

Not all writers will need these, but the tips and tricks below will help you customize your site to make it more client-friendly, more secure, or tailored to your unique plans for the platform.

Why would you want to do some of these things without plugins?

I personally try to make these smaller changes directly to minimize the number of active plugins. Using too many plugins (or poorly coded ones) can significantly slow down your site. Because it already takes a lot of plugins to bring you all of the bigger features of this site, I try to cut down on smaller ones. If you do prefer plugins, I give you options for that below as well.

I'm including source links for all of the code examples. The source pages might teach you how to make further customizations or they might provide more detailed instructions.


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Note: I cannot guarantee that all of these will work with all themes and other plugins. For example, you might run into a conflict if one or more of these is already built into your theme's functions.

Change the WordPress Login Screen Logo

Why You Might Want to do This: 

If you're a freelance writer, you might want to have a private area of your site accessible only to clients after they've logged in. For example, you might post updates on their projects or store copies of their articles for download if they ever lose the originals.

If you do this, it's nice to be able to brand your site a bit better. Instead of having the WordPress logo appear above the login form (which can be confusing for clients who aren't familiar with WordPress), you can display your own logo instead. This is a good idea if you run a membership site too, which is why I have the All Indie Writers logo on the login screen here (although I did this through a function built into my theme).

WordPress Custom Login Logo

How to do This:

Open the file called functions.php in your theme folder. You can also access this through the WordPress admin area by going to Appearance >> Editor and finding the functions.php file in the right hand column.

Paste the following code at the bottom of the file, just before the closing line where you should see ?>.

function my_login_logo() { ?>
    <style type="text/css">
        body.login div#login h1 a {
            background-image: url(<?php echo get_stylesheet_directory_uri(); ?>/images/site-login-logo.png);
            padding-bottom: 30px;
        }
    </style>
<?php }
add_action( 'login_enqueue_scripts', 'my_login_logo' );

Upload your logo to your site, and change the image location string from /images/site-login-logo.png to the home of your new logo. Note: WordPress is set up to show a logo sized 80px by 80px. If your logo isn't able to fit within those dimensions, the tweak is a bit more complicated. You can learn more at the source link listed below, or you might want to try a plugin for this.

Then, if you want your logo to link to your site's homepage, add this to the same functions.php file, below the last set of code you added:

function my_login_logo_url() {
    return get_bloginfo( 'url' );
}
add_filter( 'login_headerurl', 'my_login_logo_url' );

function my_login_logo_url_title() {
    return 'Your Site Name and Info';
}
add_filter( 'login_headertitle', 'my_login_logo_url_title' );

Edit the "Your Site Name and Info" portion to reflect your website's title.

[SOURCE]

Prefer a Plugin?

Limit Post Revisions

Why You Might Want to do This

You might have noticed that WordPress automatically saves revisions of your posts. These come from auto-saves or when you preview or save a draft.

That's incredibly helpful if you make a mistake and accidentally delete something. You can simply restore a revision. But those revisions add up over time (I've had posts with dozens of them). And as your post count grows over time, all of those revisions start to litter your database. Most aren't even necessary once your post is published.

You stop these from getting out of control by limiting the number of revisions WordPress saves. This is especially important if you get a warning from your host about your database size (something that happened to me early on when I still used shared hosting).

How to do This:

Log into your hosting account and go to your file manager (or access your server files however you usually do).

Open your wp-config.php file. Add the following line right before the line that says "MySQL Settings - You can get this info from your web host":

define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', 5);

You can change "5" to any maximum number of post revisions you want to save.

[SOURCE]

Prefer a Plugin?

Limit Access to the WordPress Login Page

Why You Might Want to do This

In the last post in this series, I shared information about a plugin that can help to protect you from brute force attacks (where a bot keeps trying to log into your site until it cracks a password). If you're the only person who needs to log into the site, you might just want to ban everyone else's access to the login form altogether.

It helps if you have a static IP address that won't change frequently. But if your IP does change, you can always add your new IP address by logging into your hosting account.

How to do This

Log into your hosting account or access your site files however you usually do.

Open your .htaccess file. Add this (I add it to the very top on several of my sites):

<Files wp-login.php>
Order Deny,Allow
Deny from All
Allow from x.x.x.x
</Files>

Replace x.x.x.x with your IP address. You can find your IP address by visiting WhatIsMyIP.com from the Internet connection you usually work from.

[SOURCE]

Adding Word Counts to Your Post List

Why You Might Want to do This

This is a tweak that might be of interest to authors more than freelance writers. The WordPress platform is good for more than running a traditional blog. One option would be to set up a private platform for organizing and drafting a book.

For example, instead of blog posts you might use the "post" feature to create chapters or scenes, or even to track your progress day-by-day. By making the blog private, the front-end posts would be available for your eyes only.

By showing word counts in your list of posts in the WordPress admin area, it could help you keep track of how much writing you're doing each day. Instead of opening each post to get the word count, you could quickly scan that list to see how you're progressing towards your word count goals.

Then you could use a plugin like the Anthologize plugin I mentioned in the previous post in this series to export your posts into a more traditional manuscript format for edits and submissions.

How to do This

For this one, I'm just going to point you to a plugin. (I know, I know, but I didn't come across it until after our plugin post).

Not only will it let you add a word count column to your WordPress admin area, but you can add other relevant columns as well. For example, you can show your featured images, authors (for a multi-author blog or one that hosts guest posts), and excerpts. The plugin is free, although there is a pro add-on that will allow you to sort by these new columns.

What else would you like to know how to do with WordPress? What would make it a better tool for you as a freelance writer or author? Share your questions and ideas in the comments to see if other readers are aware of solutions (and I might even turn your request into a post of its own if it would be a useful WordPress hack or plugin for our larger writer community).

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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3 Comments

  1. Alicia Rades March 10, 2014 Reply

    Your first suggestion is interesting, and this caught my eye: “If you’re a freelance writer, you might want to have a private area of your site accessible only to clients after they’ve logged in.” I’d like to learn more about how WordPress can help you manage your client work.
    Alicia Rades recently posted…Remedies for a Blogging Crisis: What To Do When You Don’t Have Time to Update Your BlogMy Profile

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