Making Your Own Sims Story Blog

Intro

Have you ever looked at my blog or someone else’s blog and wondered how the author made their posts break up into pages, or how they created new pages to add to their blog?

This tutorial for beginner bloggers will show you how to set up a blog similar to mine using WordPress.

*NOTE: The screenshots for this tutorial are now outdated. This tutorial was written several years ago and WordPress has changed its layout since then. I will be working on getting updated screenshots for you but in the meantime, you should still be able to follow the tutorial with the outdated images. WordPress has changed very little of its core structure over the years and most of their changes have been cosmetic.


What You Need to Know

You’ll need basic computer skills to understand this tutorial. That means you should know how to navigate the Internet, copy and paste files to different locations and so on.

You’ll need a WordPress account and at least a basic, blank blog set up already. This tutorial only goes through how to organize your blog to host many challenges and stories while still looking neat and professional. It does not go through how to create an account and blog in the first place.

You’ll need a general idea of how to navigate WordPress and use various WordPress features. While this tutorial goes through the steps to add things like Pages, Widgets, Categories and so on to your blog, it does not go through every last little feature of WordPress and how to use them. If you take a few minutes to poke around your Dashboard on your own before starting the tutorial, you should be familiarized enough with WordPress to follow this tutorial, but if you do need further help about how to add images, themes or anything else of that nature that this tutorial does not cover, I recommend WordPress’ help centre. It has excellent resources for people needing help getting started: http://en.support.wordpress.com/


Getting Started

Go to WordPress.com and log into your account.

Click on the link that says “Dashboard” underneath the link to your blog.

You’re now at your main control panel for your blog. Any editing and maintenance you do will be done here in the dashboard.


Adding Categories

The “Categories” link is essential for you if you want to set up your blog to host more than one story or challenge.

In your sidebar to your left, you’ll see a list of options, such as Posts, Links, Media, Pages and so on. Click the Posts link to get more detailed options. Underneath the Post link in the detailed options (or sub-options as most people call them), is a link called Categories. Click on that link.

On the Categories page, you’ll see you have one category, called Uncategorized. Anything you post that isn’t put into its own category will automatically be placed here.

There are options on this page to add categories. I use this tool to add the name of whatever story or challenge I’m blogging about. Just type the name of your story or challenge into the Add A Category bar and click Add Category at the bottom.

You also have the option to add sub-categories. I personally don’t use this option, but if you play a lot of the same kind of challenge or story, you may find it useful. For example, you could have a category called Legacies and then put sub-categories under that, listing all of your legacy challenges that you’ve played or are playing.

To make sub-categories under categories, first type the name of the category. Going back to my example, type Legacies and click Add Category. Then do the same thing next time, except type The Smith Legacy (or whatever your legacy is called). Before clicking Add Category, click the bar underneath with the words “Category Parent” over it to get what it called a drop down menu.

In the drop down menu, you’ll see all your current main categories, including Legacies. Select Legacies and then click Add Category. Your individual legacy challenge is now a sub-category under Legacies. Of course, this is completely optional and like I said, I don’t use it myself. It is useful to know, however.

There’s also an option to add descriptions to your categories, but don’t bother with that. I find it pointless, since category names should be self-explanatory and most blog layouts don’t show the descriptions, anyway.


Putting Your Posts Into Categories

Now that you have all your categories set up and ready to go, you’ll need to know how to organize your different posts into categories. This is actually a very simple process.

When you add a new post, you’ll see a section to your right called Categories. Under this section, there’ll be all the categories and sub-categories you’ve added along with a little box next to each one.

The little box beside the Uncategorized category will always be automatically marked. Click that box to unmark it, then click the box beside whichever category you want your post to be in to mark that box. You can select as many categories as you want for your post, but if you’re using your categories to organize and separate all of your Sims stories/challenges, then you probably don’t want your post to be in more than one category, anyway.

Put whatever pictures and text you want into the main text box of your post, title it and then click Publish. Your post is now publicly viewable on your blog and has been placed in the right category.


Showing Your Categories on Your Blog

Some blog themes/layouts will come with a Categories section in the sidebar. Others don’t have that feature, but no worries. If your blog doesn’t have a categories section that shows up automatically, you can add one yourself using widgets.

In the sidebar on your dashboard to your left, where you just clicked Posts to add your categories, click the link that says “Appearance”. The link will expand, giving you more options, just like the other links in that sidebar. Click the “Widgets” link.

There are many different options on this page, many of which you can fiddle around with yourself and see how they work and what they add to your blog, but the widget you need to worry about for our purposes is called “Categories”. Find the “Categories” widget in the list of available widgets and click it.

Keeping your left mouse button pressed down, drag the widget over to the sidebar on your right. When you see a little grey dotted outline of a rectangle in the sidebar, release the widget. It should drop itself into that outlined space.

If you click the Categories widget after placing it, there will be some options for you to look at. You can change the name of the Categories section of your blog here. If you want, you can make it something creative or witty, or you can just leave it titled as Categories. It doesn’t matter either way. Underneath that, there’s three boxes with text beside them. Just click the middle box that says “Show post counts”. The others aren’t really necessary, but feel free to play around with them if you’d like.

You now have a fully-functioning Categories section on your blog.


Adding Pages

Adding pages works pretty much exactly the same way as adding posts, except that you can’t have multiple posts on a page, like you can with the homepage of your blog. Think of a page as exactly that; a piece of paper that you can put whatever you want on.

Pages are useful for story-writers because they can have entire pages dedicated to a related topic while keeping it off their homepage. It eliminates clutter and adds organization.

On my blog, I have a Family Tree page where all of my Sims families’ information is kept for readers to look at. I also have a Resources page where I link to all of the custom content I feature in my stories, a Chapters page where I have links to each individual chapter of my stories, and a Legacy Links page where I link to other people’s Sims blogs that I recommend for reading. You can add whatever pages you want to your blog.

To add a page, click the Pages link in the sidebar to your left on your dashboard and click Add New under that. Title your page, and add whatever text, images and/or links you want, then click Publish and you’re done.

Some blog themes won’t have your pages show up automatically. In this case, I’d recommend just picking another theme that does show them, but if you really don’t want to change your blog’s theme, you can add a Pages widget to the blog’s sidebar yourself the same way you added your Categories widget.

Just like with categories, pages can have sub-pages. I use this a lot on my blog. I find it quite useful. I link to my sub-pages on my pages. For example, on my Chapters page, I have links to a list of chapters from each one of my challenges. Each of those lists is a sub-page under my Chapters page and I linked to them from my Chapters page.

Be careful not to add too many sub-pages to a page. Just one or two at the most. Although there is no limit to how many sub-pages you can have, it can get very frustrating and confusing to navigate through your blog if you have an entire labyrinth of pages floating around in space. Visitors to your blog don’t want to have to wander through a maze just to find what they’re looking for.

To add a sub-page, do exactly what you did to add a page, but before you publish it, look to the right on your screen. There, you’ll find a section called Attributes. In that section, it will give you the option of choosing a Parent Page for your page. Just like you did to add a sub-category, click the drop down menu and select which page you want this sub-page to be under. Then click Publish.

To find the address of the sub-page you want to link to from one of your pages, click Edit under Pages in the sidebar to your left on your dashboard. Here, you’ll see all your pages you’ve created, along with all it’s sub-pages underneath it. Sub-pages are marked with a long dash symbol (—) in front of the name.

Find the sub-page you want to link to from its parent page and click the View link underneath it.

This will take you directly to that page, where you can copy the address in the url bar and paste it as a link into its parent page. To clarify with an example, my Chapters page is the parent page for all the chapter lists of my stories, which I have links to on the Chapter page.


Other Neat Tools

The above information pretty much has all you need to set up and organize a blog with multiple Sims stories/challenges, but there are some other cool things that will prove useful to you as well.

Two simple things I rely on to keep my blog looking neat are the Read More and Next Page links. These are very easy to use and prove to be infinitely helpful when it comes to organizing a blog.

The Read More link is the little link you see at the bottom of my post previews. On my homepage, I have the first paragraph or so of many posts. In order to see the full post, you need to click the Read More link under it. This is great to allow people to see all your recent posts on one page without having to scroll down too far.

When you add a new post, on the top of the main text box, you’ll see two small tabs on the right side. One is called Visual and the other is called HTML. When you finish writing your post in visual mode, click the HTML tab to go into HTML mode. HTML is basically computer language. Web designers use HTML to tell a computer to make a background red and other things like that. HTML can get quite high tech-y and complicated, but you don’t need to know any of that computer mumbo jumbo, so don’t worry.

Find the point in your post where you want the post preview to end. Just the first paragraph or two should be a perfect amount. Type the following code at that point where you want the preview to end.

more

This simple code will cut off your post on your blog at exactly where you typed it and add a Read More link at the bottom of that short preview to allow readers to see the full post.

Sometimes, your chapters can get pretty lengthy which means a lot of scrolling. People don’t generally like having to scroll down a page for too long, so to shorten it, you’ll need to split your chapters up into two or more pages.

Adding a Next Page link works pretty much the same way as adding a Read More link. Write out your post in visual mode, switch over to HTML mode when you’re done, then go back and type the Next Page code wherever you want it to go to the next page.

nextpage

One other very useful thing is naming your links. Rather than just having a plain url, you can name your links to make them look neater and more organized.

Example of a plain link: https://newreflections11.wordpress.com/
Example of a named link: My Sims Story Blog

Normally, you’d need to know a bunch of HTML in order to name a link, but luckily WordPress has made it very easy to do without having to know any HTML. When you add a post, make sure you’re in visual mode and wherever you want to put a named link, type what you want your link to be named.

Then highlight that name and click the link icon at the top of the main text box where a bunch of other icons are. The icon is quite literally a little picture of a link. Beside it is a picture of a broken link. That’s the tool for removing links.

A little menu will appear when you click the link icon after highlighting the link name, asking you for the link url. That’s basically just the raw link that shows up in the address bar of your web browser. The link you posted to your blog on my comments page is a url.

Paste the url of the page you want your link to go to into that empty bar and click Insert.

You now have a nice, neat named link in your post.

And there you have it. As you can see, it’s a long process and a lot of work to maintain, but well worth it in the end when you have a nice, organized blog for everyone to enjoy.

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