Creating a Blog
WordPress.com is one of the blogging site options for this class. Go to their homepage and create a blog at the “Get started here” button. (Click any image to enlarge.)
Be sure you choose a name that identifies you, at least for this class. If you think you might continue using this blog professionally beyond the course, use a version of your name. If you’d rather remain more anonymous, use something more obscure (but still easy for your classmates to understand). Follow the sign-up instructions.
Managing Your Blog(s)
The best place to start is your dashboard or WordPress home. Get there by using the link in the upper left hand corner of your toolbar:
Bookmark this page for convenience. On the left hand side of WordPress, you’ll see a sidebar with different options. This is how you navigate around your blog.
Either through your dashboard or while in your editor, click on the “Appearance” link at the left sidebar to customize your blog. You can change your title (header), add widgets (things like archives), and make all sorts of other changes. If you want to change the colors or positions of elements on your blog, this is where you do it. WordPress has free themes that you can select to make your blog look more how you want. You can change these at any time.
Pages have their own sidebar link. Go to “Add new” and you have a new page on your site. To add links, like a blogroll, you need to first activate the Links widget. Go to Appearance, then to Widgets, and customize what shows up on your sidebar. When you’re ready to add links, do so with the Links option.
Early in the course, experiment with this aspect of your blog. Learn some HTML, play around with placement of the different elements for effect. This is where you’ll do most of your designing.
Most WordPress functions are self-explanatory or can be figured out with a little fumbling, but here’s a quick overview. If you haven’t yet read the “Blogging Guidelines” page on the main blog, please do so after reading this post.
Once you get to your dashboard or are otherwise in your WordPress blog, create a new post by, clicking “Posts” and “Add New” on the left sidebar or use the upper left hand corner drop-down menu “New” and “Post.”
The post page looks something like this:
You’ll notice a spot to put your title and a text box to write in. You can type directly into the box or you can copy and paste from Word (sometimes this jumbles your formatting, so always preview your drafts). Every post must have a title.
At the top of the text box is a menu full of options for formatting your text:
Experiment with these tools in your first practice post. If you hover your mouse over a button, it will give you a brief description of what that button does. For example, the “B” will bold your text–just highlight what you want to be bold and click the button; or click the “B” before you type the text you want bolded and then click it again when you’re finished needing bold text. Very similar to MS Word.
The more advanced things to notice here are the link and “Upload/Insert” buttons. To add images like the screen shots in this post, click the “Upload/Insert” button and upload an image directly from your computer or off the internet. The same basic process goes for videos, etc. With WordPress, you must make sure to select “Insert into Post” after your image has uploaded, otherwise it won’t show up.
There are two options for writing posts–Edit HTML and Compose. The former allows you to use HTML tags in order to manipulate the format of your posts (something I suggest you experiment with), while the latter allows you to write posts “normally” as if you were using a standard word processor. If you’re having formatting issues, sometimes switching between the two posting methods will solve your problems. Check the resources sidebar on the main blog for a link to basic HTML code.
Before you publish your posts, make sure you add a category and a tag. These are case and space sensitive, so make sure you’re consistent. Tags make searching through blog posts easy for you and your readers. Click on that tag anywhere on the site and it will bring you to a list of posts tagged under that topic. You’ll notice most blogs have a categories list in their sidebar for added ease in navigation.
As you can see in the post page screen shot above, WordPress gives you the option to publish, save, or preview every post (in the upper right hand corner). The site will automatically save your work every few minutes, but it’s not a bad idea to save yourself if you’re working on here a long time. You can also save the post as a draft and return to it later. Note that this will NOT publish it to the site and saved drafts DO NOT receive credit. The preview button allows you to see what your post will look like before you publish it. Get in the habit of previewing before you post. Publishing is the last step after you’ve written your post and are ready for it to go live.
To comment on a WordPress post, look underneath individual posts on the site for the comment option:
In this example, you would click where it says “Leave a Comment” and that will bring you to a comment box. If you are not using a WordPress blog yourself, you’ll need to register your email to leave comments on WordPress blogs. Please make sure you use your first name and last initial when commenting so I can keep track of your work.
That’s about it for blogging basics, version two. Any questions? Leave them in the comment section.