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WordPress - General

First make sure you have set up a free MailChimp account.

From your WordPress admin dashboard, click on Plugins->Add New.

In the search box (upper right) type in MailChimp.

Choose the “MailChimp for WordPress” plugin and click on Install Now.


After the plugin installs click on Activate this Plugin.

Click on Settings (or MailChimp for WP in the left hand sidebar) and enter your MailChimp API Key.  This key is what connects your MailChimp Account to the plugin.

Configuring Sign-Up Form(s)

Go to MailChimp for WP > Forms

Select at least one of your MailChimp lists to subscribe to.

(Optional) Add more fields or dynamic content to your form using the add MailChimp field dropdown.  The basic setting just collects the email address.

Put this code [mc4wp_form]  in a post or page, save, and the form will appear!  Make sure you include the brackets!

MailChimp Widget

If you want the form to appear in a sidebar go to Appearance->Widgets and drag the MailChimp Sign-Up Form widget into the box where you want it to appear.


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The kind of email signup box you need depends on what you are going to do with the emails.  If you use a newsletter service like MailChimp (my favorite), there is a plugin for WordPress that will hook right into your MailChimp account.   Other services like ConstantContact provide a bit of code that you can place in a widget or in a post.

If you want to collect email addresses for your own internal mailing list then you will need a plugin like Contact 7 or Ninja Forms.  These plugins let you create a form, place it on your site, and mail you the responses from the form.

Detailed instructions for installing the MailChimp for WordPress plugin are here.

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Is your site not appearing on Google?  There are some steps you can take to make your site more search engine friendly.

Check Your WordPress Search Engine Settings

Go to Settings->Reading and make sure the Search Engine Visibility checkbox is NOT checked.


Install an SEO Plugin

Next, install an SEO plugin like WordPress SEO.  This article explains in detail how to install the plugin.  When you install the plugin a “tour” or tutorial will run.  Make sure you follow through with the tour as it will guide you through adding SEO titles, descriptions and using a keyword.  If you missed it, here are instructions for running it again.

Install Google Analytics

Create an account at Google Analytics and add your site.  Then install Google Analytics by Yoast.

Write and Wait

Keep adding content in the form of blogs or articles, using keywords that people are searching on and wait – search engine visibility is a process that takes place over time, as long as 6-12 months.

Articles About SEO

WordPress SEO Best Practices for 2015 and Beyond – a must read.  Includes how to use keyword research when creating your content.



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If you want a gradient background on your WordPress site, first of all ignore any theme customization features for the background.  What you will need to do is circumvent those features using CSS.

Create Your Gradient

You’ll need some code that will tell the browser to create the gradient.  Go to Colorzilla.com and create your gradient.  Once you have it looking like you want, copy ALL of the code from the CSS box.


Access Your Style.CSS File

Log into your WordPress admin dashboard and click on Appearance->Editor.  Your style.css stylesheet should appear.  Check in the right column that the Styles, Stylesheet, style.css is highlighted.


Scroll to the bottom of this file, hit Return to go to a new line and type body{ 

Now paste the gradient code you copied from ColorZilla.

Hit Return to go to a new line and type }

Your code will look something like this:

background: #1e5799; /* Old browsers */
background: -moz-linear-gradient(top, #1e5799 0%, #2989d8 50%, #207cca 51%, #7db9e8 100%); /* FF3.6+ */
background: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, color-stop(0%,#1e5799), color-stop(50%,#2989d8), color-stop(51%,#207cca), color-stop(100%,#7db9e8)); /* Chrome,Safari4+ */
background: -webkit-linear-gradient(top, #1e5799 0%,#2989d8 50%,#207cca 51%,#7db9e8 100%); /* Chrome10+,Safari5.1+ */
background: -o-linear-gradient(top, #1e5799 0%,#2989d8 50%,#207cca 51%,#7db9e8 100%); /* Opera 11.10+ */
background: -ms-linear-gradient(top, #1e5799 0%,#2989d8 50%,#207cca 51%,#7db9e8 100%); /* IE10+ */
background: linear-gradient(to bottom, #1e5799 0%,#2989d8 50%,#207cca 51%,#7db9e8 100%); /* W3C */
filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient( startColorstr='#1e5799', endColorstr='#7db9e8',GradientType=0 ); /* IE6-9 */

Click on Update File.

Your gradient background should now appear.

Nope, Didn’t Work

The problem most likely lies in your theme.  If you are set on having a gradient background you may need to have someone troubleshoot it.

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New to WordPress?  Looking for a good WordPress tutorial?  Here are some options you may find useful.

I highly recommend WordPress Codex which has some very good WordPress tutorials.

WPMU also has a good WordPress tutorial.

If you need a more hands-on approach I provide 2-hour online WordPress training sessions.  Using a screen-sharing application I walk you through your site, introduce you to Pages, Posts and managing your sites and answer any questions you may have.  If you mention you saw this offer on my website the cost is $100 for the two hours session (regularly $150).  Contact me to set up a training session.

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This problem occurs when you are writing or editing a post or page.  Only half of the content edit box is used, and your text wraps around leaving the right side blank.



What is occurring here is that the theme has a stylesheet which is limiting the width of the text editing box.  To solve the problem go to Appearances->Editor.  Make sure your stylesheet is selected.



Scroll all the way to the bottom of the stylesheet, use your return key to make a new line and type in this code:

html .mceContentBody{
max-width: none !important;
width: 100% !important;

My WordPress Editor Still Looks Off

Take a look at the list of files on the right, under Templates.  Do you see editor-style.css?  If so, click on it.  If not you will need access to an FTP program where you can download this file and make edits.  Once you have access to the editor-style.css file:

Scroll down until you find  html .mceContentBody{

There will be an item called max-width: with a number after it and a px or % sign.  Replace the while thing (number and px or %) with none !important.

Still Not Working….

OK, this requires advanced knowledge.  You’ll need to download the functions.php file inside your theme folder on your web host.  Inside that file will be a line something like this:

add_editor_style( array( ‘css/editor-style.css’ ) );

There may be more information inside the parenthesis.  That is OK.  In front of this like type two slashes, like this:

//add_editor_style( array( ‘css/editor-style.css’, alwaysforever_font_url(), ‘genericons/genericons.css’ ) );

Save and upload the file.



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This problem occurs when you paste some some HTML or provided code from a source like EventBrite while using the text editor tab, and then switch the tab to visual editing.  The code you just put in will be stripped!  Very annoying.  There are two solutions.

Save with Text Editor Open

screenshot-1Don’t switch back to the WordPress visual editor – instead save the post with the text editor activated.  This will save your code as-is, but you’ll need to remember to always save that page or post without switching to the visual editor.

Use a Plugin

The Disable Visual Editor WYSIWYG plugin will let you disable the WordPress visual editor on a page by page basis.  So on pages where you have code you don’t want stripped, just activate the plugin and you’ll never have to worry about losing your code!

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Install the Google Font Manager plugin.

Immediately a new box called “Font Family” will be added to your Post/Page editor with web-safe fonts.  You can use any of these fonts by highlighting the text you want to apply the font to and then selecting a font:


Go to Settings->Google Font Manager.

You will need to get a Google Developer API key.  The developer has put together a good video that walks you through the process.  Click on the question mark in the tabs and watch the video:


Once you have the API credentials entered you can start choosing the fonts you want to use.  The plugin editor suggests limited yourself to 5 fonts (in addition to the web-safe fonts included in the plugin).  More fonts may slow down your site and cause performance issues.

To add fonts, first review your choice of fonts at Google Fonts.  Make note of the name(s) of the fonts you want to add.

To add new fonts go to Settings->Google Font Manager
On the Right you can type in the name of the Google Font you want to use on your site.
In the column on the right type in the name of the font you want to choose and then click on the popup.
It will be added to the main content box.
I’m adding “Oswald” to this site, and if I open a the post editor and look in the dropdown box I can see that “Oswald” is now selectable.
To remove a font, just click on the “x”.
However – if you remove a font that you have used in a Post or Page that font will revert to a default font – it will remove it altogether from the site!

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This assumes you know the name of the plugin you want to install.  You can find plugins at WordPress.com.

Log into your admin dashboard and click on Plugins->Add New.

Type in the name of the plugin and hit “return”.


A list of possible matches will be returned.  Review the matches carefully because the plugin you want may not be the first match! Make sure that the plugin name and author name are the same as the plugin you want to install.


Click on the “Install Now” button.

The plugin will be installed automatically and will present a link for you to activate the plugin.  Click on the “activate” link to make the plugin active.

2015-04-03_10-04-30At this point each plugin is different.  Most will need to be set up in some way.  Generally you can find the settings for your new plugin in the left-side menu on your admin dashboard.  Sometimes it might be under “Settings”, sometimes just in the menu itself.  WordPress SEO by Yoast just says “SEO”.  Refer to the installation instructions and FAQs for your plugin for more details, or contact me for a quote to assist in installation.


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Before you log in you will need your username and password.  If you had someone set WordPress up for you, they should have provided you with a URL, a username and password.  If you used an automatic installation process through your web hosting, you probably got your login information via email.   If you have all three of these, great!  Continue on after the next section.

I don’t have my URL

There are a couple of things you can try to find you login URL.  Try typing each of these URLs into your browser bar:
If none of these work, you are going to need to contact the person who set up your WordPress for you.  If for whatever reason you are uncomfortable doing this, contact me and I’ll quote you a price to find the URL.

Logging In

WordPress runs in your browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, FireFox, Safari, etc), so open your browser and in the URL bar type in your complete URL.
You should come to a page that looks similar to this.  If you have a hot designer, the page may look slightly different – perhaps branded with your logo, but there will be a place for your username and password.  Type them in and click on “Log In”.
If it worked, you will be at the Dashboard!

I’m Not at the Dashboard!

Recheck your username and password.  Type each EXACTLY as given to you – capitalization and extra spaces matter!  Still doesn’t work?  Try clicking on “I forgot my password” and entering your email address.  Whether this works depends on if the person who set up your WordPress installation entered your email correctly.  If you do not receive a reset password, or WordPress tells you it doesn’t recognize that email address, you will need to contact the person who set WordPress up for you, or contact me for a quote on getting it reset for you.


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When talking about what WordPress is, we can say many things:

  • WordPress is software that displays a website
  • WordPress runs on a server or host on the internet instead of being installed on your home or office computer
  • WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that saves all of the information about your website to a database
  • WordPress makes it easier to edit the content already on your website, add new content and delete old content without paying for a web designer.
If you navigate to any website on the internet, let’s say my own website at www.beyond-paper.com, the information that you see resides on computers called servers located all over the world.  The companies who own and manage those servers are called hosts or hosting companies.  The majority of people who have websites buy a hosting package from a hosting company which will hold all of the information needed to display their website.
WordPress itself is just a software program that is installed in your hosting account.  When someone types in a URL for your site, WordPress builds the page from the information in the database.  If you want to change the content on one of the pages in your website you will type an admin URL into your browser and login to an administrative control panel that allows you to make all kinds of changes to your site.
Above all, WordPress is a content management system (CMS).  What this means is that your pages built from a bunch of parts which are stored in different places.  Take a look at a page from my own website:

Click to Enlarge

My site has three main content parts:
The header, which is the same on all pages.
Header Area - Same All Pages

Header Area – Same All Pages

The footer, which is the same on all pages.
Footer - Same All Pages

Footer – Same All Pages

The page content, which is differs according to the page:
Content - Each Page is Different

Content – Each Page is Different

Because the header and footer are the same on all pages, WordPress keeps one copy of each of them.  That way, when a change is made to the header, the change occurs on ALL of the pages – I don’t have to manually make that change to all of the pages!  The same with the footer.
Meanwhile, the content, which does change from page to page, is kept in a separate spot.  WordPress uses the URL of a page to figure out what content to pull out and match with the header and footer.
All of this information about content management systems and parts of a web page are important, because you are going to be able to edit parts of this page yourself.  Notice I said “parts of this page”.  There are some things that you will need a web designer, or a WordPress-savvy friend to change for you, but if your site is set up correctly you should be able to change most of the text and images in your site yourself.
So what is WordPress?  WordPress is a content management system that lets you make content changes to your site yourself, without the intervention of a designer.

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You want to make edits to a page on your WordPress site, but you aren’t sure what page to look for.  The best place to identify the page name is in the URL for the page you are looking at.

The Page URL

Look in your browser URL bar – everything after your domain name will tell you a lot about where your page is located.

The page name is usually found right after your domain name:



WordPress will add dashes to your page name if it contains more than one word.  So /about-us/ for your About Us page.

If you have subpages set up, the URL will contain the name of the main page and then the subpage:



Sometimes Pages Aren’t Pages

WordPress will create pages for category listings and for blogs – these virtual pages aren’t accessible from Dashboard->Pages.  Instead these virtual pages are created from Posts.  You will need to go to Dashboard->Posts and find the post.  For example, here is the URL for the page that shows all my posts in the category “news”.



The next example is my blog page – it lists all of my blog posts:


I’ve Identified the Page Name from the URL, Now What?

Log into WordPress Admin and from your Dashboard click on Pages->All Pages.  You’ll see a list of all of the pages on your site.  Using the name you got from the URL, you should be able to identify the page. Click Edit and do your thing!

I Need to Change How a Blog or Category Page Looks

This will require creating or editing a template and is beyond the scope of this FAQ.

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In this FAQ we looked at how WordPress website pages are broken into three major parts; the header, footer and content area.  This is important, because where you edit each of those parts may be in different spots in the WordPress administration.

In another FAQ we learn how to identify the name of the page.  Once you have the name of the page, go to Dashboard->Pages->All Pages and see if the page exists.  If it does, and contains the information you need to edit, yay!  You’re done.  If not, keep reading…

pageIn this FAQ we are going to look at the parts of the page to identify from where the content is coming. To the right is a screenshot of my blog page and I’ve blocked out and identified the areas.  I know this is a virtual page that was created by WordPress, meaning there isn’t really a Dashboard->Page for me to edit.  Instead all of the content areas are being pulled in from different spots.

Post or Widget?

I know this is a virtual page that was created by WordPress, meaning there isn’t really a Dashboard->Pages->All Pages for me to edit.  Instead all of the content areas are being pulled in from different spots.  How do I know that?  Well, first I know that the page changes when I add a new blog post – the most recent post appears without me needing to edit a page.  If it were a page, the content area would stay the same unless I went into Dashboard->Pages->All Pages to change it.

If I want to change the text or image in a post, then I obviously need to find that post and edit it.  (The name of the post is usually the same name that appears under Dashboard->Posts->All Posts).

If the area I want to change isn’t part of a post, and isn’t page content, then it is probably a widget or a menu.


As you can see from my example, I have two menu areas – one at the top and one at the bottom, and two widget areas – one in a sidebar and one in the footer.  How do I know the difference?  It isn’t as obvious as you may think because you can have menus in widgets!

Menus are controlled in the admin under Dashboard->Appearance->Menus.  By looking at the menu listed in the editor and comparing them to what I see on my site I can tell that the menus are being controlled there.  So, if I need to make changes to a menu, I will edit them in  Dashboard->Appearance->Menus.

I also checked in the Menu editing area for a menu called “Inspiration” because that left hand column in the Footer area looks like it could be a menu.  I don’t see a matching menu, however, so it must be a widget.

View your widget areas and widgets under Dashboard->Appearance->Widgets.  Each box on the right is a widget area and you should be able to match widget areas up to the areas you see on your site.


My site is pretty easy – I see a widget area for Sidebar – obviously that is the sidebar on my blog – and 4 widget areas for the Footer, which are the four columns in my footer.  Just to check I’m in the right spot I can open the widget area and match widgets to what I see on my blog:


They match!  So I know the content I need to edit is in this widget!


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Want to use WordPress for your site?  The first question new users have is WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.  It really depends on what you want your site to do, how much you want to spend on your site and how much you want to be involved in maintaining your site.

WordPress.com – Hosting Service

WordPress.com is a service that will host your WordPress site for you.  It offers a way to get up and running with a WordPress blog quickly.  The basic package is free but has some serious limitations:

  • No premium themes or customization – you are limited to themes in the WordPress.com repository.
  • No eCommerce
  • Only 3 Gb of space
  • Must use a WordPress.com address (can’t redirect your domain)
  • May show ads on your site

The premium service offers:

  • Custom domain (can redirect your own domain)
  • Advanced customization, but no premium themes  – you are limited to themes in the WordPress.com repository.
  • 13 Gb of space
  • No ads
  • No eCommerce

The Business plan offers unlimited space, premium themes and eCommerce.  You are still limited to themes in the WordPress.com repository.

Self-Hosted WordPress

WordPress.org allows you to download the WordPress application and install it on your hosting site – so it will be associated with your domain name out of the box.  You can install any number of plugins and themes and can do any kind of customization you want, including adding eCommerce.  Your storage space is limited by your hosting plan.

Self-hosting is all about flexibility, but with that come some added site maintenance issues.  You will need to check in occasionally and update WordPress, any plugins and themes (easy with WordPress, just click on a button).  You will need to make sure you have at least one anti-spam plugin and install a security plugin with automatic backups.  These plugins can be had for free.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org?

I would definitely go with WordPress.org.  The flexibility a self-hosted WordPress.org site offers far outweighs the small amount of maintenance necessary.  But if you aren’t convinced,  WPBeginner has created a comparison infographic that will help you make your decision.


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