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Your Own WordPress Blog - Beginner Guide
Your Own WordPress Blog – Introduction
In this article:
- How you create a WordPress blog
- How you change the appearance of your blog
- How you publish posts in your blog
Keeping a blog has become the thing to do on the internet. What most people usually associate with this term is a kind of web journal, in which you can share parts of your life with the web community, express your ideas about society, politics, world affairs and all kinds of other topics, publish your favourite recipes or keep written track of your poker career.
Back in the day, setting up your own blog was quite tedious - you had to struggle with web space providers, homepage construction kits, content management systems or infinite HTML and PHP code deserts. Nowadays however, it is in fact very easy to create appealing blog pages for various purposes.
WordPress is probably the leading provider in the area of blogging software. The open source provider makes its blogging software available in two ways. One option is to download the entire package and to install it on your own web space, in order to use it as a content management system there.
Alternatively, you can also set up your own blog directly on the WordPress website for free. This article will show you how to create your own blog at WordPress, how you set it up and adapt it to your personal needs and how you use its basic functions, for example when it comes to creating a post.
How you create your blog
WordPress provides you with the web storage space for your blog and your posts as well as with the necessary administration tools. You don't need any knowledge about web programming in order to keep a WordPress blog.
And here is how you get your own WordPress blog:
- Go to http://www.wordpress.com.
- Click on "Sign up now" in the upper right-hand corner of the page.
- Fill out the registration form. Please enter a valid e-mail address, since you will have to confirm it later.
- In the next step you have to pick a URL (web address) for your blog. Take your time. It should be easy to remember and related to the topic of your blog. Every time you want to access your blog later, you will find it at YOURBLOGNAME.wordpress.com.
- In this last step you have to confirm your email address. Open your email account, look for an email from WordPress and click on the confirmation link inside.
That's it! You are now the proud owner of a WordPress blog. If you want to take a first look at it, go to YOURBLOGNAME.wordpress.com.
This is how you access the blog administration page:
You can always log in to the administration page of your blog at the following address:
You will be asked for your username and your password. Afterwards you will be taken directly to the administration page.
How you prepare your blog
If you look at your blog now, it already looks fully functional, but still somewhat sparse. Before you start putting in blog posts, you should first adapt it to your own needs and your personal taste.
Please log in to the blog administration page. As mentioned before, you do so by going to YOURBLOGNAME.wordpress.com/wp-admin/ and logging in there.
Step 1: Choose a new theme
A theme determines the basic appearance of your blog, for example the banner image, the font types and font sizes used, how lists will look, the positioning of additional elements (widgets), in short: the entire layout of your blog.
How to change the theme of your blog:
- In the blog administration, you find the item "Appearance" in the navigation menu on the left. Click on the little arrow next to the item to expand it. Afterwards, click on "Themes".
- You are now in the overview "Manage Themes", where you can find some suggestions for alternative themes. However, you can also browse through all available themes by selecting one of the options under "Browse Themes", for example "Popular". By clicking on the "Preview" link under a given theme, you can see what the theme looks like.
- Once you have found a theme that you like, click on the "Activate" link under the preview image.
This will directly activate the new theme for your blog. Currently, you won't see any confirmation message about this on the administration page; instead, the administration page will simply go blank as soon as you have clicked the "Activate" link.
Go to your blog now and see if you are still happy with the theme you have selected.
Step 2: Modify blog title and tagline
The header of a typical WordPress blog usually consists of the title of your blog as well as the so-called tagline, which initially always reads "Just another Wordpress.com site".
It's very easy to change the blog title and the tagline:
- In the blog administration, you find the item "Settings" at the bottom of the navigation menu on the left. Click on the little arrow to expand the item. Afterwards, click on "General".
- This will open an overview where you can change various settings, for example for the title and the tagline of your blog. Enter your text and submit the information by clicking on the "Save Changes" button.
Step 3: Create categories
The posts that you create for your blog are always assigned to so-called categories. A post always has to belong to at least one category, but can also belong to multiple ones. You are probably already familiar with this principle from other blogs. Selecting the categories in a logical manner will later make it easier for your readers to find posts they find interesting or posts that are thematically related to each other.
Initially, there is only one category: "Uncategorized". If you want to keep your blog as a poker journal, you would create categories such as "Bad Beats", "Good Beats", "Poker Life" or "Everyday Life".
Try to come up with a sensible structure for your first posts. Once your post collection grows, you can always add new categories and also assign existing posts to new categories.
And this is how you create new categories:
- In the blog administration, expand the item "Posts" at the top of the navigation menu. Afterwards, click on "Categories".
- You now see an overview of your categories. First of all you should re-name the existing category "Uncategorized". You find it listed on the right. You can either click on it or move the mouse cursor over the item and select the option "Quick Edit" which will pop up. Enter a new name and save the changes.
- The next step is to add new categories. You can do so on the left side of the page, under the corresponding headline "Add New Category". Enter the name of the category and a brief description of its content. Once you're done, click on the "Add New Category" button.
You can repeat this last step as many times as you want. You can also come up with sub-categories in order to create a hierarchy. To do so, simply choose a parent category under "Parent".
Step 4: Complete or delete the About page
WordPress does not only work with posts, but also with pages. When you create a blog, you will see two pages. First there is the main page where your blog entries appear, and secondly there is the About page. You get to your About page through the main navigation bar of your blog.
A page is theoretically just another post, but it doesn't belong to any category and is listed in the main navigation bar. You can either fill the About page with content, for example with information about yourself or the goals of your blog, or you can simply delete this page.
If you change your mind later, you can always add it again. In fact, you can add as many pages to your blog as you like.
Here is how you delete the About page:
- Expand the item "Pages" in the navigation menu on the left and click on the link "Pages".
- You now see an overview of your existing pages. In this case there is only one, namely the About page. To delete it, move the mouse cursor over the item and choose the option "Trash" which will pop up.
This is how you edit the About page:
- If you want to keep the page and add some content to it, expand the item "Pages" in the navigation menu on the left and click on the "Pages" link.
- In the overview that will now open click on the item "About". This will take you to the editor, where you can edit the title (for example to "About me") and enter text, just like in any other text editor. In addition to that, you can make use of the other formatting options, add links, images and lists.
- Once you're done editing, click on the "Update" button on the right to save the changes and to publish them on your blog page.
Step 5: Delete Hello World post
When you created your new blog, a post titled "Hello World" was automatically created as well. Obviously, you might not want to keep it on your page.
You can delete the Hello World post as follows:
- In the blog administration, expand the item "Posts" at the top of the nagivation menu. Afterwards, click on "Posts".
- This will open an overview of all your posts. At the moment, the "Hello World" post is the only one in the list. Move the mouse cursor over the item and select the option "Trash" which will pop up.
After completing this last step, you have given your blog an individualised look and a basic category structure; moreover you have removed all pages and posts that only served as placeholders. You can now start and publish your very own posts.
How you write and publish a blog post
The posts are at the core of every blog. A post basically consists of four essential elements:
- Its title or its heading, respectively.
- The text itself.
- The categories it belongs to.
- The assigned tags. Tags are keywords that, similarly to categories, specify the content further and therefore make it easier for your readers to find thematically similar posts later. If you are writing a post about a bad beat, the corresponding tag may read "Bad Beat" for example. If you caught a bad beat with aces, another tag could be "Aces". Should you write another post about a bad beat with aces later, you will simply give it the same tags, allowing your readers to find both of the posts by searching for the same tags.
And this is how you create a new post:
- Click on "Posts" in the navigation menu on the left and expand it if you haven't done so yet. Afterwards, click on "Add New".
- This will take you straight to the editor, where you can enter your posts.
- At the top, enter a headline or a title for your post.
- Enter your text in the main entry box. You can format the text by using the toolbar and also add links and lists.
- On the right you can select the category under which you want your post to be published. You can select multiple categories, however it is good practice to select just one.
- Under "Post Tags" on the right you can then enter the tags or keywords that describe your post thematically. Don't enter too many of them and keep them rather general. Seperate multiple tags with a comma. When you're done, click on "Add" to save the tags.
- All you have to do now is publish the post. To do so, click on the "Publish" button.
You can now go to your blog and have a look at your post.
Tip: Inserting images in WordPress
As it is with so many things, inserting images into posts may seem a bit complicated at first, but will be very easy once you have understood how it works.
The most common case is probably that you have an image on your computer and want to insert it into your post. To do so, you first have to upload the image and save it online in a so-called gallery at WordPress. You can then insert it into your post by choosing it from the gallery.
And here is how it works:
- Put the text cursor where you want the image to appear.
- Right above the editor box, click on the first symbol behind "Upload/Insert", which looks like a little box. If you move the mouse cursor over it, the text "Add an Image" will appear.
- A window opens in which you can upload images. To do so, click on the "Select Files" button.
- In the file dialog, choose the picture or the pictures that you want to upload from your hard drive. Once you have done this and confirmed your selection, the images will be uploaded automatically. This may take a little while, so please be patient.
- If you have uploaded a single image, you can directly proceed with the next step. If you have uploaded several images, click on "Show" next to the image you want to insert into the post.
- You can now add a description for the picture (which will appear in the blog if you move the mouse cursor over the picture). What's more important however is that you can now determine the alignment for your image. Alignment means: Where does the image appear in relation to the surrounding text. If you leave the default setting unchanged, the following text will continue at the bottom end of the picture; the image will therefore stand on its own without any text on either side, which can often look rather ugly. In most cases you want the text to flow around the image. If you want the image to be on the left and the following text on the right, choose the alignment option "Left". If you want it the other way around, choose "Right". Also, you can choose a size for the displayed image here. Your readers will still be able to view the image in its original size later by clicking on the image in the blog post itself.
- Once you're done with the settings, click on the somewhat difficult to find "Insert into Post" button.
That was it - you have now inserted your imaged into the post. As you may already have noticed, the procedure for inserting an entire gallery or a diashow with several images into your posts is exactly the same.
Similar to the illustrated process for images, you can also insert videos, audio files or downloads of other file formats by using the toolbar behind "Upload/Insert".
How you adapt widgets
Widgets are elements that you can find in your blog's site navigation for example. The category list or your post archive for example are widgets. A widget could also be a calendar, a search function, a menu or just a text or an image.
You don't necessarily have to place these widgets on the right or the left side of your blog. It depends on the individual themes which positions are available. Some themes offer numerous possible positions to put your widgets.
In order to manage your widgets, expand the item "Appearance" in the navigation menu on the blog administration page and click on "Widgets".
In the main area of the page, you can now see an overview of all available widgets. On the right you find the possible positions or areas into which you can insert widgets.
If your theme has a right and a left sidebar for example, you can have the available widgets appear on the left or the right margin of your website. You would see two possible positions in the widget overview, and they could be called "Left Sidebar" and "Right Sidebar" for example.
It is very easy to add, remove and sort your widgets by using drag&drop. In the main area of the page, click on the widget you want to use, keep the left mouse button pressed and use your mouse to draw the widget to the preferred position on the right side of the page.
Experiment with the widgets a little and find out what they do. For example, the widget "Links" (Your blogroll) displays a list of links selected by you. To select the links, go to the blog administration page, expand the item "Links" in the navigation menu on the left, create link categories and afterwards define new links by clicking on "Add New".
You can also create a user-defined menu. In order to do this, you first have to add the widget "Custom Menu". Once you have done that, click on "Appearance" in the blog administration and select "Menus". Now you can define a menu with all of its menu items.
Tip: Don't overdo it when adding widgets. On the one hand, they can make your blog look overcharged and make the navigation more difficult, on the other hand they increase the file sizes of your blog, which will have a negative effect on the loading times. Remember the old saying: As much as necessary, as little as possible.
As you have seen, a WordPress blog can be created very quickly. It offers many different options when it comes to the appearance and the functions of your blog. This beginner guide explained the installation and the basic functions. Since this beginner guide is already quite lengthy, you can figure how much more there is to discover in the WordPress universe.
What this guide didn't show you was how to fill your blog with life. Simply think about what could be interesting for other readers - unless you are keeping a private blog only for yourself, for example to keep a record of your progress in poker.
If you want to use your blog to refer new members for the TaF programme, it will certainly help you to go by the motto: Content is king. Provide your readers with something that they will find interesting. This can be a journal, your most interesting poker hands, funny incidents - simply something that you would enjoy reading as well.
And if you ask yourself how you can get readers in the first place... A first step could be to link to your blog in your signature at PokerStrategy.com (for the SEO experts among you: the link is dofollow). Also, you should register it with the blog search engine Technorati.com. On top of that, there are many blog directories where you can submit your blog or your RSS feed for your posts, and if you are using Twitter, you can link to your blog there. And if you regularly publish interesting posts, you will be sure to attract more readers. Alright, have fun blogging. Read you later.
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