Depending on how you go about it, formatting posts can be as much of a
struggle undertaking as actually writing them: not just in terms of time, but the energy it takes to make sure they’re nice and readable, consistent with your previous posts (if that’s something you care about; I know I do), et cetera. After months of experimenting I’ve developed [what I think is] a fairly efficient process, so today I figured I’d share in case anyone else might find it helpful.
[Obligatory disclaimers: I’m not an expert and some of the information in this guide may become outdated and/or look different on your operating system or because I use the editor through /wp-admin, and also I may use the wrong jargon at times. This is just based on my experience of what’s worked well for me.
Also, this is a fairly long post, so feel free to skim as you like!]
This post has been sitting in my drafts for a while because I haven’t really had the focus to sit down and finish it
plus I kept getting distracted by other post ideas please tell me I’m not the only one who does this. But anyway, it’s finally ready, and here it is now!
Templates: Just Add Details
I’m definitely not the first one to think of this, but a few months into blogging I realized that creating templates for different types of posts can really streamline the blogging process. It’s easy to just drop in the questions and answers for the tag I’m writing, or the details of the book I’m reviewing (for those of us on free WP who can’t use that fancy plugin), and it serves as a kind of checklist so that I don’t forget any of the components / information that I want to include.
Sure, you could also go find and copy a published post with the layout you want. But using a template not only makes it easy to find the right type of post — I keep template posts in the Drafts section, with [TEMPLATE] in the title, while posts-in-progress are mostly marked as Pending — it saves you time deleting all the information that needs to updated with each new post.
Above is my current template post for reviews! I’ve added filler info in the book details partly as reminders to myself and partly to make formatting easier, since WP can get a little glitchy when switching between bold/unbold and italic/non-italic. As you can tell, not only does it include my click-to-show content warnings — saving me the trouble of editing the HTML in each post — and my affiliate disclaimer, I’ve also pre-pasted the formula for my affiliate links so that I just have to add the book’s ISBN. (To find the ISBN, I go to Goodreads and select a hardcover or paperback edition; when testing the links I’ve found the ISBN-13 is more reliable, but YMMV.)
Reusable Blocks: Ready to Use
One of my favorite aspects of the block editor as a whole is the ability to create customized reusable blocks, which I currently use for my ARC disclaimers and book ratings. They’re really easy to create: once you have the block formatted — I haven’t tested this extensively, but I believe this can be any block except a Classic block; if you’re comfortable with HTML, you can use that to achieve a similar effect — you just click the rightmost dropdown on the block menu, then “Add to Reusable Blocks,” then give it a name and you’re all set!
Inserting a reusable block is a lot easier than having to remember / check the wording and format these post components every time I want to use them! And if you decide to edit the blocks at any point, in theory WordPress will update all the corresponding blocks for you, so you won’t have to go back and reformat all your posts. (I haven’t extensively tested this though.)
Classic Block: Best of Both
Worlds WordPress Editors
Confession: despite being told by multiple friends not to (and hearing lots of horror stories that stem from doing it), I still write most of my post drafts right in the WordPress editor. Which means I have no one to blame but myself if my laptop crashes without saving my changes, or ctrl-z erases too many lines, or anything else goes wrong. However, I don’t like having to open multiple tabs, such as a Google Doc draft and the actual post draft, copy + paste a bunch of text, then format it all; in my mind, the occasional annoyance is worth the convenience. Plus, I like to format either when I outline a post (if I do) or as I write it — probably not the most efficient time-wise, but hey, it works for me.
A lot of more experienced bloggers have complained at length about the block editor, but it’s what I’m used to since I started blogging after it was introduced. So I don’t have much experience with the full classic editor … though I actually write the majority of each post in Classic blocks.
It takes literal seconds to select the Classic block — as opposed to just typing away and letting WP automatically put it into paragraph blocks — and it saves me so much time and mental energy since I find it so much more intuitive. Rather than isolating each paragraph or heading or image into a separate block, Classic blocks will let you put as many paragraphs and headings and embedded media (images, audio, etc.) as you want into the one block … and you can still use other blocks (Spotify embed, Image Gallery, Spacer / Separator, or your reusable blocks) throughout the post.
I feel like I should also note that sometimes I do still use the paragraph block, particularly when I only have a few lines of plain text to write — such as the discussion questions at the end. But for the body of each post, when I have a significant amount of text and/or formatting to work with, Classic block makes it a lot easier.
One Final Note: Check Post Preview
Before scheduling or publishing a post, I always make sure to look over the post preview to make sure everything looks exactly the way I want it to (especially since blocks don’t always reflect the way things will appear in the post itself), including clicking on all the links to make sure they work as intended. Plus, I have a tendency to jump around between sections of a post while writing, so it’s also a proofreading round to check that I actually finished all my sentences.
This is just a peace-of-mind preference and certainly not mandatory, but it certainly saves me from embarrassment and/or having to go back and fix things after they’re live. 10/10 would recommend.
*YouTuber outro voice* If you’re reading this, thank you for sticking around to the end! These were some of my tips for using WordPress, if you enjoyed this post make sure to click that like button and follow my blog for more.
Do you use the block or classic editor? Do you write your posts in the editor itself, Google Docs, or some other system? What other formatting tricks have you discovered?