With my new approach to blogging for 2015, consolidating various web presences back to my own mother-ship, I needed a quick and simple way of using my existing blog with sub-blogs giving a “blog in blog” effect.
I’ve looked around at various ways I can do this, mostly with either heavyweight plugins, complex monkey-ing around with pages or changing hosting providers but none met my requirements: quick, low cost, simple to maintain.
I decided to think more like a WordPress person and less like an Enterprise focused Microsoft Kool-Aid drinking person and came up with (what I think) an elegant solution that took minutes to implement and meets my needs entirely.
For clarity, at a technical level I wanted the following attributes for my sub-blog posts:
- Hidden from the main page (to keep the identity separate on the home page)
- Available from feeds (to enable filtered syndication via my social platform)
- Accessible from main navigation
- Available in an aggregated form
- Accessible from a vanity url
Seemed like a tall order, but not if I thought like a WordPress-er!
First up, the easy bit. WordPress Categories provide a great and simple way to group together posts of a similar type, create a category (in my case “Cook It!” and “Comedy”) and label away. Simples.
My second challenge was to hide the posts I wanted in the sub-blog from the home page of my “main” blog. This isn’t easy out-of-the-box, but fortunately there is a great Plugin called “WP Hide Post” that does exactly what I wanted.
Once installed and activated, a widget appears on each new post that enables a vast number of combinations of hiding, including the one I needed “Hide on the front page”:
Once this was enabled, each time I wanted to make a post to the sub-blog, all I needed to do was to hide it from the front page.
Next up I needed a way of grouping all of my categorised posts into a single location. Seems like code would be needed here? No way! WordPress provides something called “Category Pages” that automatically aggregate posts of the same category into a single page. Awesome!
I will say, for the record, category pages are not the most intuitive to set-up. They reside and are configured menus (Appearance > Menus) which although counter-intuitive to me, means that the functionality actually solves two of my needs; available in aggregated form and accessible from the main navigation. Twice Awesome!
1. Edit your menu and then add the category page by selecting “Categories” in the left widget of the edit menu page and then check the category you want to be the sub-blog, then click “Add to Menu”:
2. You can then position your category page into the menu in the normal way (up, down, under, out from under) to meet your needs.
3. Once you are added, check your menu is indeed the “Main menu”:
NOTE: If this menu is not your main menu (in my case I only had one menu so this check box was not checked but needed to be) you might want to add the category pages to your main menu.
4. Click “Save Menu” at the bottom of the page and SHAZAM! your menu will be updated with the category page (in my case, two pages, both of which I named in a more friendly way in the menu editor in step 1 above) :
The final step was to make the sub-blogs available from vanity urls, this was easier than expected as I simply added an http REDIRECT to my DNS entries for sebmatthews.net:
I was amazed how easy it was to achieve my aim of a blog in blog look and feel using this approach, it’s further vindication of my decision to use WordPress as my blog platform.
If you have any questions about this, feel free to add a comment.
more to follow…