I love taking photos and I’ve always wanted a place to post my photos online, but I’ve always struggled to find an appropriate place to put them. Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram are of course the obvious choices, but that never really felt like a great way to archive photos I was proud enough to post. Plus once they pass through a timeline they might as well be gone forever. I always thought my blog would be the best place to post, but the mental overhead of “drafting a blog post” just to post a photo always seemed to prevent me from using it that way.
And thats what makes Micro.blog so appealing to me. Micro.blog is a service created by Manton Reece that lets you host your posts on your own blog (either self-hosted or hosted by Micro.blog) that then feeds into the Micro.blog timeline via RSS. But the best part is that Micro.blog encourages short, title-less posts. This feature alone seems to have gotten me past the mental barrier of posting images and other short posts to my blog. Plus my posts can feed into my Micro.blog timeline to be shared with others on the service.
Micro.blog will pretty much work with WordPress out of the box with a couple of small configurations, but I spent some time configuring my WordPress blog to handle the short posts in a specific way so I thought I’d share that here.
I prefer to keep the short, title-less posts out of the main blog and in a feed of their own (using the Status post format in WordPress). The steps below will explain how to configure Micro.blog with WordPress so everything displays correctly and feeds nicely into the Micro.blog timeline.
Registering for Micro.blog
Before you get started go ahead and register for an account on Micro.blog. It’s free to sign-up as long as you’re self-hosting your blog and not using the Micro.blog hosted service (which is also a great option if you don’t like tinkering with WordPress or other blogging platforms).
- Register for an account on Micro.blog
- Provide an Email, Username, Full name, and Website
I already have my own microblog(this tells Micro.blog to read the RSS feed from your self-hosted WordPress blog instead of using a blog hosted by Micro.blog)
- Provide the Feed URL of your WordPress blog (
Registerto create your Micro.blog account
Additional Micro.blog Configuration
You need to add an additional feed to your Micro.blog account since you will be excluding the status post format from the main WordPress blog and including it in a separate feed (but I still like to have my regular blog posts appear in the Micro.blog timeline as well).
- Edit any additional account information (such as About me)
- Add the additional Feed URL for the status post format of your WordPress blog (
Add Feedto save
There are a few WordPress tweaks you can optionally make that will allow Micro.blog to verify your website URL and make sure posts appear in the Micro.blog timeline immediately after they are posted.
Verifying your website with Micro.blog enables some additional features. You can verify your website by placing a link to your Micro.blog profile in the website header or anywhere else on your homepage. I choose to add the link to my website header.
- Install the Insert Headers and Footers Plugin (or use any other WordPress plugin that allows editing your website header)
- Go to
Settings → Insert Headers and Footers
- Add a link to your Micro.blog profile (
<link href="https://micro.blog/your-username" rel="me" />)
By “pinging” Micro.blog when a new post is published, you can ensure Micro.blog refreshes your feed right away and immediately adds the new post to the Micro.blog timeline.
- Login to your WordPress dashboard (
- Go to
Settings → Writing
- In Update Services add:
Because you’re separating the short, title-less posts into the status post format there are some modifications you can make in either your theme’s
functions.php file or a site-specific plugin to ensure those posts are handled properly. Also, although I really enjoy creating the title-less posts, I prefer they still have a nice title by date in the WordPress dashboard. These modifications will enable WordPress to automatically create a title and permalink for those posts that displays in the dashboard but is never displayed on the blog or in its feed (big thanks to @colinwalker for helping me out with some of these). There a few other modifications that I think are nice to have when posting to Micro.blog as well.
Add Theme Support for Status Post Format
If your theme doesn’t already support WordPress post formats you’ll need to enable the status post format. This will allow you to assign the status format to your short, title-less posts and display those posts differently in your blog and feed.
Remove Post Title in Blog for Status Posts
Although these posts by design have no title, I like to give each post an automatically assigned title by date in order to keep the list of posts looking nice in the WordPress dashboard (see below). To make sure the automatically assigned title doesn’t display on your blog you need to disable the post title for posts that are assigned the status post format.
You will also need to add the following CSS to your theme’s
Remove Post Title in RSS Feed for Status Posts
For the same reason you removed the post title from the front-end of your blog, you’ll also need to remove the post title from the RSS feed for status posts. Since Micro.blog treats posts with titles as full posts and not a microblog post, you’ll want to make sure the automatically assigned title by date isn’t included in the RSS feed for status posts.
Remove Status Posts from the Main Blog
I prefer to keep the short, title-less posts out of my main blog and in a feed of their own. To do this you’ll need to remove the status posts from all queries unless the page is the status post format archive (
http://www.yourblog.com/type/status/). This will also exclude the status posts from all feeds except the status feed.
Change the Post Title to the Current Date
Perhaps my favorite concept behind Micro.blog is the idea that posts don’t have to have titles. This idea seems to have really gotten me past the mental barrier of “creating a blog post” and allowed me to just post my images and thoughts. However, I don’t like how title-less posts are displayed in the WordPress dashboard as
(Untitled). This made the posts difficult to differentiate, created ugly URLs, and made the dashboard look really cluttered. To prevent this, you can filter the title to automatically use the date if no other title is provided. This makes the posts look nice and neat in the WordPress dashboard but the title will never be displayed on your blog or Micro.blog timeline since we are hiding titles both in the blog and the RSS feed for status posts.
Automatically Populate Image Details
I really enjoy posting images to my blog using short, title-less posts but I’m also very particular about having the image metadata populated when images are uploaded to WordPress. If you upload via the WordPress dashboard then you can populate these values manually, however, most apps don’t give you the opportunity to provide these values. Additionally populating these values every-time is another point of resistance that would often keep me from posting a photo. You can populate these values automatically with the date on upload and, regardless of how you post images to your blog, the WordPress image metadata fields will always be populated with the current date. I often go back and update these values later when I’m working in the WordPress dashboard.
Bypass Jetpack Publicize Feature for Status Posts
I use the Publicize feature of Automattic’s Jetpack plugin to automatically share new posts on various social networks. I still like this feature for standard blog posts, but I don’t necessarily want all my short, title-less post being crossposted across all of my social networks. This is partially due to the fact that Micro.blog already has excellent crossposting functionality but also because I am enjoying the community being built on Micro.blog. So I don’t necessarily want to start those conversations anywhere else. You can disable the Jetpack Publicize by using their built in
publicize_should_publicize_published_post filter to return
false for posts with the status post format.
Micro.blog supports sending a Webmention when someone replies to one of your posts. If WordPress is configured to receive the Webmention then you can display Micro.blog replies as comments associated with your post. I don’t particularly care to have replies brought back to my blog, however, you can easily install these two WordPress plugins to enable this functionality.
- Webmention: Enables receiving Webmention notifications
- Semantic-Linkbacks: Replaces limited Webmentions with clean, full sentences
Micro.blog will also attempt to notify any other blogs you mention in a post via Webmention. You can mention a blog by linking someone’s @username to their Micro.blog profile URL. You can optionally have WordPress add the link for you.
W3 Total Cache Configuration
One problem I had when configuring WordPress to post to Micro.blog in real-time was feed caching. I use the W3 Total Cache plugin to improve the load speed of my site with caching. The problem is that W3 Total Cache caches RSS feeds by default as well. This is usually not an issue since the feeds don’t change that often and are purged when a new post is published. But since Micro.blog checks the feed immediately once it is “pinged” by WordPress in order to update the timeline, you need to make sure Micro.blog is getting the updated version of the RSS feed and not a cached copy. If you are using W3 Total Cache, you can fix this issue by excluding the status feed from being cached.
- Login to your WordPress dashboard (
- Go to
Performance → Page Cache
- In Never cache the following pages add:
Save All Settings & Purge Caches
Posting to WordPress for Micro.blog
One really nice thing about using WordPress to host your short, title-less posts is that you can post from any app that supports posting to WordPress including the official Micro.blog Mac and iOS apps. The great thing is since I built in support for automatically naming posts and images in WordPress above, that all automatically happens in WordPress regardless of how the post is created. Here are a few ways I’ve been experimenting posting my short, title-less posts to WordPress.
- iOS Workflow App: The Workflow app is great for automating actions on iOS and includes an action to publish to a WordPress blog. Workflow has been great for quickly posting images, links and short, title-less posts to my blog from iOS.
- Publish Photo to WordPress: This workflow allows you to pass an image into the Workflow app from iOS, resizes it to a smaller, blog appropriate size, publishes to WordPress, and returns the URL of the image on your blog to be posted in the Micro.blog app. Since the workflow uses the Post to WordPress action the image will also appear in the WordPress media library with all the image metadata populated by the configuration above.
- Publish Status/Link to WordPress: This workflow simply takes any text or URL inputs, asks if you would like to use the standard, status or link post format, and publishes to WordPress (without a title for status posts). If no input is provided it will also allow you to quickly type a short post to be published to WordPress. This is a great way to quickly post a link or short, title-less post to your blog from anywhere in iOS.
- Micro.blog Apps: Both the Micro.blog iOS and Mac apps are really great and seem to keep getting better. They are obviously great for browsing the Micro.blog timeline, but since they support publishing to WordPress as well as hosted Micro.blog sites they are a really nice way to publish short, title-less posts to your blog as well.
- Sunlit App: The Sunlit app developed by @manton and @cheesemaker is currently in beta and has been updated to support posting photos to WordPress and Micro.blog. If you use Sunlit to post to your WordPress blog, Sunlit will take advantage of the WordPress gallery feature to display multiple photos in a single post. Sunlit is a great way to get started posting photos to your blog and also has a really nice discovery section to browse photos being posted by others to Micro.blog.
- WordPress Apps: I don’t use the WordPress apps very often, but they are still nice to have around in case you need to edit or delete anything posted to your WordPress blog.
So thats it! Thats how my WordPress blog configured to separate short, title-less post into their own feed, automatically add titles by date to those posts, and post from my Mac or iOS device. I hope this helps some other WordPress users get started with Micro.blog because it really is becoming a great community with some really smart people. If I left anything out or you have any questions follow-me on Micro.blog (@ChrisReed) and just ask! I’ll be happy to help!