Starting a WordPress Blog – 4
This is part 4 of my guide to starting a WordPress blog. In Starting a WordPress Blog – 1, I discussed some blogging basics and definitions and in Starting a WordPress Blog – 2, I showed how to register on WordPress for a blog and choose a theme. Starting a WordPress Blog – 3 showed you how to set up your blog so that it was ready for your first post. Today, we’ll make a few last settings before posting your first post. To get started, go to your Dashboard, which you can do by: going to wordpress.com, signing in, the selecting Dashboard under your blogname; or entering your blog address, blogname.wordpress.com, in the address bar of your browser, then choosing Login in the sidebar under Meta. Before we actually get to posting, let’s look at a couple of settings that determine how accessible your blog is to the public. In the left sidebar menu, under Settings, select Reading and scroll down to Site Visibility. Here you can decide whether to make your blog completely public and open to search engines, semi-private in that it is not open to search engines, or entirely private for readers you choose. If you want readers, choose the first. Now, select Discussion under Settings. Here you can control who can comment on your posts.
To write your first post, select the Add New tab under Posts in the left sidebar menu. The Add New Post window that opens should look fairly familiar if you’ve used any word processing program like Microsoft Word. At the top, there is a bar for the title of your post, and below that is the link (or internet address) WordPress assigns to your post. For now, that’s all you need to know. Below that are three buttons (Add Media, Add Poll and Add Contact Form, plus two tabs, Visual and Text. Let’s ignore those for now and look at the controls below it.
When you mouse over one of the controls, a title will pop up and most are self-explanatory. Particularly useful are the Link and Unlink controls and the Insert More Tag. If you want to allow your reader to see something you reference in your post, you can insert a link to it. You highlight your reference, then press the Insert Link control. A window pops up in which you can enter the web address of your reference and choose whether you want the link to open in the current window or a new one. I usually choose a new one so the reader doesn’t leave my page. You can remove a link by highlighting a linked reference, then selecting the Unlink control. The Insert More Tag places a space in your post. On your blog page, your posts will only appear up to the More Tag with a Read More link following. When your reader presses the Read More link, the rest of your post will appear. You can see what that looks like on Older Eyes’ Front Page since I use Read More to allow my readers to skim posts more easily with less scrolling. I’d suggest you do some writing and play with the controls until you’re comfortable with the window. Remember, nothing can be seen until you publish it. WordPress will periodically save drafts of your work or you can save a draft yourself by selecting Save Draft in the right sidebar.
Part of the fun of posting is adding media to your posts. I almost always use illustrations. Sometimes, I find them online, but more often, they are photos I take and upload. To use a photo from your computer, select the point in your post at which you want your image to appear, click Add Media, then Upload Files. Browse to the image you want, then click Open. The image will be added to your Media Library and the controls on the right of the media window will allow you to place the image left, right or center of your text, also controlling the size of the image. Once the image is in your post, you can change its attributes by clicking on the image, then the left hand (image) button that appears. You can delete an image by selecting the delete button on the right. To enter a YouTube video, choose Insert from URL in the left sidebar of the Add Media window. Enter the web address of the YouTube video and the video will be embedded in your post. You can add other media to your posts as well, such as audio and videos you’ve made yourself, but this requires a WordPress upgrade and some experience in blogging. Let’s leave that for another day down the road.
Once you have something that you think you like, you can see what it will look like to your readers using the Preview button in the right sidebar. This will bring up (in another tab or window) your post exactly as it will appear to a reader. You will spend a lot of time jumping back and forth between your Preview and your Dashboard to get your posts just so. When your post is ready, it’s time to add a Category and some Tags using the right side toolbar in your New Post window. Categories are general topics for your posts, like movies, music, relationships and spirituality. As the number of posts grows, Categories will allow your readers to find those subjects they like best. Tags identify the subject matter of your posts in more detail and are one of the primary means by which search engines find your work. I started out with a half dozen Categories but by now, I have 22 and I have hundreds of Tags. WordPress remembers both the Categories and Tags you’ve used in the past and makes it easy for you to reuse them in the right sidebar of the Dashboard.
OK. Your post looks maaahvelous. You’ve chosen a Category and added some Tags. You’re ready to publish. Before you do, visit the Visibility tab in the right sidebar. Here you can decide if your post is Public, meaning anyone who arrives at your blog can view it; Password Protected, meaning anyone arriving at your blog with a password you choose can view it; or Private, meaning only selected readers can see it. Now, click Publish and … bingo … you’re a blogger. Maybe your first post will go viral (just don’t bet on it).
Before I send you off on your own, I’ll offer some final thoughts on the blogging experience in Blogging on WordPress – 5, probably Saturday.