How to Blog Using WordPress

How to Blog Using WordPress

WordPress.com is an open source, content management system with free blog templates. Setting up a simple blog is easy. For the novice, the terminology may be off-putting. Fortunately, WordPress.com helps you learn as you go, and the abundance of available information, both on and off the site, will help all newcomers. Expect to practice trial and error throughout the process. That’s not a bad thing because experimenting can help to create a truly unique blog.

WordPress.com will publish a blog at no charge; however, it can only accommodate 35 readers, which is sufficient for most. More storage is available for purchase at reasonable prices. Note that if you use wordpress from wordpress.org you will need to buy hosting from another company

Terms to Know

Dashboard

This is the screen where you will add posts, check stats and control the appearance of the blog. Just as a driver uses the dashboard to control a vehicle, a blogger uses the WordPress.com dashboard to control any content, graphics and tools that appear on the published blog.

Widgets

These are special features that add to a blog’s usefulness; for instance, blog stats, a calendar and a category menu. Find the Widgets button under Appearance and drag and drop into the template—see next definition. Click on the one you want to add, hold the mouse down while you drag the widget into the section for widgets.

Drag and drop

WordPress.com uses drag and drop in the dashboard to set up widgets. Click on what you want to move but do not release the mouse button, continue holding the button while you drag the item to the new location, then release the mouse button. If you should want to remove the item, drag and drop works in reverse as well.

Theme

Remember that themes are easy to change even after the blog is published. The theme controls the appearance of the content including column formats, colors and widgets. Themes are easily formatted using the Theme Options button. On the dashboard screen, find the Appearance button in the left navigation bar, click on it, and you’ll see the button in the list. Here you can set up the format for columns, sidebars and footers.

Tags

Tags are connected to individual posts to help readers find content. They aren’t necessary, but they do help with increasing blog traffic.

First Steps

1. Decide on the blog’s subject. Some successful blogs simply promise to share the author’s thoughts or interests without a central topic. The more specific the subject, the easier it is for the reader.

2. Determine who will be the audience for the blog. Will it target the public, or will it attract collectors interested in Victorian buttons or some other specialty?

3. Decide on a specific purpose for the blog. Are you hoping to share what you know about a topic and exchange ideas, or will the blog mainly act as a newsletter for a select group?

4. Go to WordPress.com and click on the Sign up Now button to get to the 10-step walkthrough. Each step has screen shots to clarify the process, along with detailed instructions. You will need to submit an e-mail address to set up the blog account, fill in a profile, and then choose a theme — that’s the fun part.

5. Start posting.

Attracting Readers to the Blog

Topics:
Share knowledge, teach something, invite conversations or start a photo journal. Explore other blogs for ideas, but don’t duplicate anything.

Update Often:
Submitting new posts daily is the best bet for maximum traffic. If that’s impossible, make sure to at least post regularly.

Visuals:
Use photos, drawings, and videos to add interest to the blog and to illustrate post content. WordPress.com uses icons right above the text input box for adding graphics to posts. You Tube provides coding to copy and paste to the blog post. Be aware of any copyrights when using outside media or content.

Fonts:
Change up the fonts. Make one post italicized and another one bold. Unfortunately, those are the only variations available unless you subscribe to Typekit, which is easy to access through the dashboard.

Comments and Subscriptions:
Include the subscription widget and allow comments. Responding to all comments keeps the readers coming back. Eventually, the comments and responses will grow into a subscribing reader community.

Tags:
Add tags to each post to make it easier for readers to find the article. Specific labeling such as button-collecting, fast cars or green pencils gets better results.

Polls:
Another way to get the audience involved is with polls. Adding a poll is as simple as clicking on polls in the sidebar and then clicking Add New to create a voting poll.

If you prefer to test drive your blog in private, you don’t have to make it public. When you are ready to share, the dashboard is the place to start. Click on Users in the navigation bar to add users. You don’t even have to allow any users until you build up the site. That way, you can practice adding media, posts and widgets without the whole world watching.

Finally, be sure to check the WordPress.com Weblog to keep up with the latest ideas and suggestions. There is also an extensive forum of users willing to help with problems or ideas.

About the Author:
Zac Kenni is a business developer and a senior writer from a trusted hosting reviews company. Webhostingsearch.com, a leading provider of good quality webhosting reviews and web development resource. Lists and rates hosting services through a collaboration of thorough research and data analysis, performance and user feedback.