Still putting off switching from the WordPress Classic Editor to Gutenberg? Or are you a brand new blogger ready to write your very first blog post in WordPress? In this tutorial I show you how to write your first blog post using the WordPress block editor (AKA Gutenberg).
If you are reading this tutorial you are probably in one of two camps. Either you are a brand new blogger wanting to find out how to write your very first blog post in WordPress OR you are a seasoned blogger who’s been writing blog posts for years, but always in the classic editor and you are a teensy weensy bit freaked out about switching over to using the new block editor.
Either way, this tutorial is for you! I’m going to take you step by step through how to write your very first blog post using the WordPress block editor (AKA Gutenberg). And if you are still using the classic editor, I’ll show you how you can make the switch on just ONE blog post, so you can test it out first before switching over fully.
But first up, a little bit of background…
What is the WordPress block editor?
Up until 2018, most bloggers on WordPress used the Classic Editor. This editor looks and behaves a little like a Word document (or a Google doc).
Then in 2018 WordPress 5.0 was rolled out. In WordPress 5.0, the classic editor was replaced with a brand new block editor, sometimes known as Gutenberg.
The WordPress block editor looks and feels quite different from the old classic editor. Content in Gutenberg is divided into ‘blocks’ (hence why it’s called the ‘block editor’).
Each content item (a heading, a paragraph, an image, a list, a quote etc.) is in a separate block and these blocks can be moved around, duplicated, saved and reused.
The new block editor also offers a whole host of extra features directly in the WordPress block editor – features that previously you would have had to use a plugin for or know how to create in HTML code. For example: adding a table, adding columns, putting a coloured background behind some of your text and more!
How to transfer from the WordPress classic editor to the WordPress block editor
At the time when it was rolled out, there were quite a few concerns about the compatibility of Gutenberg and many WordPress plugins, so a lot of bloggers opted to install the Classic Editor plugin. This plugin essentially kept everything the same, so that bloggers could go on using the Classic Editor they were used to and thus avoiding the potential problems.
If you are new to blogging and don’t have the Classic Editor plugin, you can skip this section and go straight to the section where I show you how to write your first blog post using the WordPress block editor.
However, if you have been blogging for a while and you are still using the classic editor, now is definitely the time to make the switch – before you get left behind!
And I have good news for you. Not only is the block editor actually really easy to use, there’s also a great way to ‘try before you buy’ – as it were! You can simply switch Gutenberg on for one blog post and give it a whirl. Here’s how…
First head to PLUGINS >>> INSTALLED PLUGINS in the left-hand menu. Scroll down until you find CLASSIC EDITOR and select SETTINGS.
Where it says ALLOW USERS TO SWITCH EDITORS, select YES.
Now click POSTS >>> ADD NEW and look down the right-hand menu until you find DEFAULT EDITOR FOR CURRENT USER. Click on SWITCH TO BLOCK EDITOR.
Now you have the block editor switched on for the new post you are about to write, but all your other posts are still in the classic editor and you have the option to use the classic editor or the block editor whenever you start a new post.
In reality, once you have written one blog post in the block editor, you are unlikely to ever go back to using the classic editor. But having the option open makes the switch easier psychologically!
Once you are happy and comfortable with the block editor, you can go ahead and delete the Classic Editor plugin… or keep it and just leave all your old blog posts in the classic editor but write all your new ones in the block editor – it’s entirely up to you!
What happens if I delete the classic editor plugin?
If you choose to delete the classic editor plugin, all the posts you originally wrote in the classic editor will be automatically transferred over into the block editor, but all the content in each post will be in one block – called a ‘classic block’.
You can convert the content of a classic block into individual blocks by clicking on the 3 dots that appear in the toolbar when you click anywhere in the classic block. Then select the CONVERT TO BLOCKS option, to convert the content within this classic block to individual blocks.
However, I recommend you leave all your old content in either the classic editor, or a classic block in the block editor, and just change it over to individual blocks as and when you update each blog post. There’s no real need to convert your old content into individual blocks unless you actually want to use the extra functionality of Gutenberg in that post.
How to write your first blog post using the WordPress block editor
OK, so now you are ready to write your first blog post in the WordPress block editor. Here’s my step by step tutorial with screengrabs…
(Prefer to watch the video version? You’ll find my Gutenberg video tutorial HERE)
Step 1: Add a new post
First, log into your blog’s dashboard and select POST >> ADD NEW. You should get a screen which looks like this…
(Note: if you have the classic editor as your default editor, you will need to switch over to the block editor first. Simply look down the right-hand menu until you find DEFAULT EDITOR FOR CURRENT USER. Click on SWITCH TO BLOCK EDITOR.)
Step 2: Give your post a title
Simply type in your title where it says ADD TITLE at the top.
Step 3: Add text
To add text, simply type where it says START WRITING OR TYPE / TO CHOOSE A BLOCK. Every time you hit the return key to start a new paragraph, a new block will automatically be created.
Alternatively, you can copy and paste into the WordPress block editor from a Word document or Google doc. If you choose this option, a new block will automatically be created for each paragraph.
Step 4: Add headings
To create a heading, simply type the text of your heading, then select the paragraph symbol (which looks like this: ¶) in the top left of the popup toolbar. This will give you the option to change the text from paragraph text to heading text. Select HEADING.
For all your main subheadings you should choose the ‘H2’ H Tag. If you divide a paragraph into sub-sections, each with its own sub-sub-heading, then you need to use H3 tags (and H4 for sub-sub-sub headings!).
READ MORE >>> How to use H tags correctly in a blog post
If you want to change the colour of your headings you can do this by clicking on your heading then selecting COLOUR SETTINGS in the right-hand menu
Step 5: Add spaces
To make your text easier and more enjoyable to read, it’s important to include plenty of white space – particularly between sections. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen as easily in Gutenberg as it does in say Word or Google Docs (or, for that matter, the old classic editor).
To add in this white space, you need to hover your mouse between the two blocks where you want the white space to go and a + sign should appear.
Click on the plus sign and select LAYOUT ELEMENTS then SPACER.
Now, over on the right-hand menu, change the height of the spacer to 40px.
To be able to reuse this 40px spacer, you will need to save it as a reusable block. To do this, go to the three dots above the spacer and select ADD TO REUSABLE BLOCKS. Give your reusable block a name (for example 40px spacer) and hit SAVE.
I like to add a 40px spacer after each main section (immediately above a new H2 heading) and a 20px spacer after each subsection (immediately above a new H3 heading).
Step 6: Add images
To add an image, hover your mouse between the paragraphs where you want the image to go and click the + sign. Choose COMMON BLOCKS >> IMAGE >> UPLOAD and select a photo from your computer or COMMON BLOCKS >> IMAGE >> MEDIA LIBRARY to select an image from your media library.
Use the panel on the right to change the size of your image, if you want, and add an alt description.
Step 7: Add links
To add a link, highlight the text you want to link to another post or page, then select the chain link symbol from the popup toolbar and paste in the URL you want to link to. Alternatively, if you want to link to a another post (or page) on your own blog, simply type a couple of words from the title of that post and select the correct post (or page) from the search results which will automatically appear.
To make the link open in a new tab, click the down arrow next to the URL and toggle OPEN IN NEW TAB to ON.
To set the link to nofollow, first ensure you have set the link to open in a new tab, then click the 3 dots in the popup toolbar that appears and choose EDIT AS HTML.
In the html code find the part that says rel=”noreferrer noopener” and change it to say instead rel=”nofollow noopener”.
Now click the 3 dots again and select EDIT VISUALLY.
READ MORE >>> Follow vs nofollow links
Step 8: Add backgrounds
To give a single paragraph a different colour background, simply click anywhere in the paragraph and then select COLOUR SETTINGS on the right-hand menu and choose your colour.
To give a group of blocks a background colour, highlight all the blocks and click on the multiple block symbol in the popup toolbar. Select TRANSFORM TO… GROUP.
Now select COLOUR SETTINGS on the right-hand menu and choose your background colour.
Step 9: Add code
If you need to add a line of code into your blog post, simply select the Custom HTML block which you will find under ‘formatting’ in the list of available blocks.
Once you’ve added your custom code, you can click on the preview button to double check it looks right visually.
I use this for things like embed codes for my opt-in forms and affiliate link code.
Step 10: Set categories, tags, featured image and excerpts
Look over to the right-hand menu and select the DOCUMENT tab.
Now scroll down to where it says CATEGORIES and choose the correct category for your blog post.
Scroll just below to where it says TAGS and add your tags.
Next add a featured image by clicking on SET FEATURED IMAGE then selecting or uploading the image you want to use.
Finally, copy and paste your first paragraph into where it says EXCERPT (or write a custom excerpt if you prefer).
READ MORE >>> How to use tags and categories properly
Step 11: Change your URL slug
Your URL slug is the part of the URL after your domain name. For example, the URL for this blog post is www.productiveblogging.com/first-post-WordPress-block-editor. The URL slug is first-post-WordPress-block-editor. By default the slug will contain all the words in your title. You generally want to shorten this to just a few keywords – this will make the URL more attractive when you share it and easier to share in certain contexts (for example in an Instagram post, on a podcast or in a YouTube video). In any case, it’s good practice to keep your slugs short!
To change your slug, simply head over to the right-hand menu and select the DOCUMENT tab. Scroll down to where it says PERMALINK and amend your slug as you wish.
Step 12: Preview and proof read
Before publishing your blog post, make sure you preview and proofread it! To preview, simply hit PREVIEW in the top right-hand corner. The preview window will automatically open in a new tab.
Proofread your blog post and make edits where necessary.
Step 13: Publish or Schedule
To publish straightaway, simply hit PUBLISH in the top right-hand corner of your WordPress editing screen.
To schedule your post for a date in the future (or even backdate it to a date in the past!), simply head over to the right-hand menu and select the DOCUMENT tab. Scroll down to where it says STATUS AND VISIBILITY. Click on the word IMMEDIATELY next to where it says PUBLISH and choose your preferred date and time. Then hit SCHEDULE in the top right-hand corner of your WordPress editing screen. Your post is now scheduled for the time and date you selected and will automatically be published at that time.
Special features in the WordPress block editor
The WordPress block editor had numerous special features – cool stuff that you just couldn’t do in the old classic editor. Here are just a few of the special features I use most often…
If you decide you want to move a paragraph, title, image, quote etc. to a different place in your blog post you can! Hold down the mouse key on the left-hand side of the block you want to move, then drag and drop the block to wherever you’d like it to appear. Alternatively, use the up or down arrows on the left of the block to move it to wherever you want it.
If you’ve created a block and you’d like to put that block somewhere else in the same blog post too, simply click on the 3 dots on the right of the popup toolbar and select DUPLICATE. You can now move that duplicate block to wherever you need it to go using the methods described above.
I use this for things like pinnable images (I usually have one at the top and bottom of each post) and opt-in offers (I often like to put one at the beginning and one at the end of my posts to maximise sign-ups).
One of the best features of Gutenberg IMHO is reusable blocks! This allows you to create a block which you can reuse again and again. This is perfect for things like affiliate disclosures, links to social media, links to a specific set of affiliate links etc. Anything which you want to go into multiple posts.
A WORD OF WARNING HERE – whenever you edit a reusable block, it changes that block EVERYWHERE IT APPEARS – and if you delete a reusable block, that block gets deleted EVERYWHERE IT APPEARS!
This is both a good thing AND a bad thing. Bad in that you can accidentally delete something from every post! But good because it allows you to make a change that automatically appears everywhere that block appears.
So, say you have a reusable block which links to all your social media profiles and you always put that reusable block at the end of every post… and then one day you change your Instagram name… all you would need to do is change your Instagram name in the reusable block and it would change in every post automatically!
How to create a reusable block in WordPress
To create a reusable block, simply click on the 3 dots in the popup toolbar and select ADD TO REUSABLE BLOCKS. Then give your reusable block a name – something that will help you remember what that block is and find it easily next time. Then hit SAVE.
How to insert a reusable block in WordPress
To use a reusable block you have already created, simply click on the plus sign to get the list of available blocks and scroll down to the REUSABLE BLOCKS section. Next, find the block you require and click on it… and ta-da! Your reusable block has been added.
How to edit a reusable block in WordPress
To edit a reusable block, so that the changes appear everywhere that block appears, simply click on the EDIT button at the top of your reusable block, make the edits and then click SAVE.
How to convert a reusable block to a regular block in WordPress
If you want to edit just one instance of a reusable block WITHOUT that block changing everywhere it appears, simply convert the reusable block into a regular block. To do this, click into the block you wish to change and then click on the three dots on the popup toolbar. Select CONVERT TO REGULAR BLOCK. You can then make any edits you require safe in the knowledge that those changes won’t happen anywhere else on your blog.
Shortcuts using the ‘/’ key
There are two ways of inserting a block. You can click on the plus sign and browse for the block you require, as I have explained above.
Alternatively, you can just hit return to start a new paragraph and then / and the start of the name of the block you wish to add. Any block that matches what you type will pop up in the search results and then you can just click on the one you need.
wordpress block editor – video tutorial
In this video tutorial, I take you step by step through how to write your first blog post using the WordPress block editor (AKA Gutenberg)
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