Starting a WordPress Blog – 2

wordpressThis is the second post on how to start a WordPress blog on wordpress.com. In Starting a WordPress Blog – 1, I discussed some blogging basics and definitions.  Here, we take your working Blog Name and Tagline (if you want one) and start the process of building a blog.  To get your blog started, go to wordpress.com and click on the Get Started button.  While you’re there you can watch a short video on WordPress and browse some other WordPress blogs.  Once you’ve selected Get Started, you will be asked for an email (where the activation email will be sent – be sure to push the confirm link in the email), a password and a blogaddress for your blog, which will be blogaddress.wordpress.com.  It’s nice to pick a blog address related to the name you’ll eventually use for your blog but since there are already hundreds of thousands of WordPress blogs, you may not be able to get the address you want.  There are two optional blog plans, Premium and Business but stick with Free to start.   Click the Create Blog button at the bottom of the page and you are on your way.  You will receive a verification email at the address you entered above.  On the next screen, you enter your blog’s name and a tagline (which is optional).   Mine is Older Eyes and my tagline is Reflections from an Older Perspective.  You can always change these later.  If you want email reminders to post, you can select how often here.

When you select Next Step on this page, you get to select a theme.  There are hundreds of free themes to choose from, as well as some custom themes that incur a one-time charge.  Choose a free one and, as WordPress says, don’t overthink it.  You can change themes at any time and until you say publish, no one but you can see what you are working on.  Even after your blog is established and published, you can try out other themes easily.  I think Twenty-Ten is a nice theme to learn on, which is what you’ll be doing at first, so scroll down the page until you find it then choose Activate.  When you select Next Step again, the theme you selected will pop up in a new window or tab with options for customization available on a pop-out menu on the right.  Skip customization for now.  Close the window and click Next Step on the next two Getting Started screens until you end up on a screen that looks like this**:

blog

You now have a WordPress blog, albeit a naked one.  You can see it by clicking your blog name, in the example, Old Frank’s Blog.  It has the title and tagline you selected above displayed on a header, a place for a first post, and whatever graphics and formats come with the theme you selected.  It will open in a new window and when you are through admiring your progress, just close it.   Again, don’t worry … no one but you can see anything yet.  You’re ready to customize your blog.  While your readers will be looking at your blog pages, you’ll be spending a lot of time on your Dashboard, which is the control center of your blog.  You reach your Dashboard by clicking the Dashboard link under your Blog Name.

dashboardWhen you do that, you’ll see a very busy page with a list of links in the left sidebar that you will use to post on your blog and to generally control the appearance of what you readers see.  If you mouse over the Appearance tab, you’ll see eight categories.  Select the first one, Themes.   You will see a graphic of several hundred Themes available to you, some free and some for a one time fee.  The first Theme shown is the one you selected above with a button that allows you to customize it.  A Customize button is also available in the Appearance tab.  One of the nice things about WordPress is that you can try on different themes without commitment (kind of like speed-dating) by selecting the Preview button under a theme.  Because different themes have different features, everything won’t be perfect in your preview but it’s good enough to see if you like it.  If you do, you can select Activate in the right sidebar … otherwise, select Cancel and nothings changed.  If you change themes after you are up and blogging, you may have to do some housekeeping to make everything look right, particularly if you move from a dinosaur like Sapphire to a very flexible theme like Twenty-Twelve.

You can read about any themes by pushing the Theme Details button that appears when you mouse over a theme.  There you’ll find a concise description and a list of attributes, some of which may seem a bit cryptic if you aren’tThemes familiar with blog and website layouts.  I chose Sapphire because I liked the simple dark blue layout with single column text and only one sidebar and because it had a customizable header.  If you are interested in seeing what Older Eyes looks like in a more customizable Theme, you can see me in the Twenty-Ten theme here.  If you plan to feature photos more than text, you may want to select a photography oriented theme (all Themes support photos, however).  Featured Images allow you to easily feature different photos in your sidebar or header.  If you want to have an introductory post like I do, you’ll want to be sure the Themes supports Sticky Posts.  The only way to understand the Themes’ features is to play with them  … so this should be playtime.  Since you have no blog content at this time, try activating a few themes that intrigue you.  Play around with the Customize button until you have something you like (remembering that Custom Design costs $$).  And in Blogging on WordPress – 3, we’ll get your blog layout ready for your first post.  Have fun!

** You can get to this screen at any time by going to wordpress.com, logging on using your username and password we set in Blogging on WordPress – 1, then selecting My Blogs at the top of the page.

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