Two months ago, I went over the basics of the new WordPress update, aka Gutenberg software. Last month, I covered formatting options. Today, let's talk about some features and plugins you might want to use.
Copying & Pasting into WordPress
I always write my posts in the WordPress editor screen, but many bloggers prefer to pen their posts in word processing software, then copy and paste into WordPress. How can you make that happen?
Straight copy and paste. Go grab the whole text from its source (on a PC, you can use Ctrl+A and then Ctrl+C to copy it), then come over to the WordPress editor screen and paste it in (Ctrl+V). Gutenberg will convert it to paragraph blocks, and you can then change any specific block to another format choice if you want, such as Heading.
Using HTML. Some writers save their post as HTML and then paste it into WordPress. If that was your go-to method, you'll notice that you no longer have a visible place where HTML editor is shown—but it's still here!
Up at the top right corner, where you save posts, you'll see three vertical dots.
Clicking there opens up a menu with editor options. You have the Visual Editor, the default view with text, images, and so on. And then there's the Code Editor, which is the HTML Editor. Of course, the next step is clicking that second one, so that the check mark moves to Code Editor.
And when you click that, you open up the HTML editor view, which looks like this:
From here, you can paste in your HTML Code. Then, if you want, switch back over to Visual Editor to see the results.
Let's go back to those three vertical dots. Another option there you might want to use is the Fullscreen Mode.
Unfortunately, its promise that you can "Work without distraction" seems a bit extreme, since this mode does not address the cat walking across your keyboard, the children yelling for your attention, or spammers calling your phone every five minutes. But it does allow a cleaner look for drafting and editing your post. Namely this:
No top or left menu to contend with—just a simple screen to work from.
I love this feature. Let's say you have a book ad that you often use to entice readers to hop over and purchase your fabulous book. You can save that as a reusable block, which you can then access and drop into any post.
First, you create whatever block you want. In this case, I added an image block and inputted the URL link to the Amazon purchase page in the right-hand side bar. Then click anywhere on the block, which brings up the block menu, and click on the three vertical dots. Among the options there is Add to Reusable Blocks.
Once you click that, you'll be asked what you want to call that block and then you'll save it, thus adding it to your list of Reusable Blocks. Then, the next time you want to use that block again, you simply click on the circled plus sign, click Reusable Blocks, and select the one you want.
WordPress will drop it right into the post for you and will remember your formatting, such as the URL link you added before. You can edit the reusable block if you need to by clicking the block and choosing Edit at the top right.
Plugins with More Block Options
While there are many formatting choices in Gutenberg already, you might want to add a few more for special purposes. For instance, wouldn't it be great to easily add a Preorder or Buy Now button for your book release? How about a profile box to feature the author of a post or the author of a book you're reviewing? Want to insert a Google map so readers can find your next book signing?
Several plugins allow you to do just that—get more block options. I tested several, and these are the ones I found easiest to use.
Atomic Blocks. If you install this plugin, you'll get several more options for block formatting. Here are all the offerings:
Just to highlight a few of these, you could add a Customizable Button after a book cover image to encourage sales:
Or you could highlight the author of a post or an author whose book or resource you're promoting with the Profile feature. (They make it so easy to add the photo and social links.)
Julie Glover is one of 4 hosts of Writers in the Storm and the latest one to join the team, the others having set the bar really high before she jumped on board.
And the Post Grid block is really cool if you want to show your most recent posts. Here's just our latest three posts, but you can choose any number you want.
SWAG is one of those places where authors can go very right, or completely wrong. Sherry Ficklin shows how to get it right, offering examples that fit today's publishing market and reader needs, without breaking the bank.
Deep POV veteran, Lisa Hall Wilson, shares three exercises to help turn emotion loose on the page and free up your creativeness in ways that might surprise you.
Laurie Schnebly Campbell details the many advantages (and disadvantages) to writing a series vs. a stand-alone novel, and offers tips for how to decide which to choose.
Ultimate Add-ons for Gutenberg Blocks. One thing I like about this plugin is that you can deactivate any of the features you know you won't use. For instance, I deactivated the Restaurant Menu option, since our website will not be serving you a lunch buffet anytime soon.
But there are useful block options, like inserting a Google map. Here's can example showing where you can find the California Dream' Writers Conference, where I'll be presenting a young adult workshop in April.
Next up, the Timeline feature. Surely there are other uses for this, but you could let your readers know when books have been or will be released. (And yes, those are real titles of a novella series coming soon.)
Mark of the Gods
Muse Island Series, Book 1
Power of the Song
Muse Island Series, Book 2
Rise of the Storm
Muse Island Series, Book 3
You could also feature reviews left about your book with the Testimonial block.
There are more options with each of those two plugins, and if you choose to add them, play around and see what you like and don't like.
We've thrown a lot at you with this WordPress update / Gutenberg software, so all the information may feel overwhelming. But you won't use all of the options. Just choose what works for you and don't worry about the rest.
With this update, we have a lot of choices available so that we can customize our sites according to our needs and our readers' desires. I'm wishing you all the best in coming up with the best design for your website.
One more time: What questions do you have about the WordPress update? Any features you wish you had but you can't find?