Journalists' Toolkit > Blogging > WordPress Basics

WordPress Basics

By Mindy McAdams

I recommend WordPress.com above all the other free blogging platforms, for various reasons. One big reason is the vast number of tutorials and lessons and support (see an example: a one-minute video that shows you how to save a draft of a new post).

See this overview of WP features if you need to be convinced.

Just go to WordPress.com and click the big button that says Get started here (it couldn't be any easier!). Follow the instructions given there.

Getting started

In case you need a little extra prodding to get started, here are 9 easy steps:

  1. Register and start a blog at WordPress.com (if you already have one or more WordPress.com blogs, see "Multiple blogs," below).
    • The blog address is the URL that others will see. It should be easy to type it correctly.
    • You cannot change your username later, so choose wisely).
    • Use your real e-mail address.
    • WRITE DOWN your username and password!!! Everybody forgets!
    • At the bottom of the page, click Create Blog.
  2. Read Getting Started if you feel nervous about doing this.
  3. Modify Settings (change your blog's title, etc.; lots of stuff can be changed at any time).
    • IMPORTANT: Select your local time zone here! (Choose a CITY in the same time zone as you, so that daylight saving time will be adjusted automatically.)
  4. Choose a Theme (how your blog looks).
    • On the right side of the screen, find "Appearance" and open it. That's where you will see Themes.
    • You can change this as often as you like (cool!).
    • There's a video if you need help.
  5. Write your first new post -- and publish it. (Watch the 2-minute video to learn how.)
  6. Delete the "Hello World!" post that WordPress gave you. (Instructions for deleting a post.)
  7. Edit your new post and add a hyperlink (then Update Post).
  8. Test your link on the live blog! Does it work? If not, go back to the Dashboard and fix it.
  9. Customize your sidebar(s) with widgets -- this is fun! (Watch the video.)

Multiple blogs

You only need to register at WordPress.com ONCE -- you can have many different blogs under ONE username.

Go to this page to create a second, third, or other WP blog. Sign in with your WordPress username and password if you haven't done that already.

Make sure to keep the Privacy setting as "viewable by everyone."

Don't forget to click Create Blog at the bottom of the page.

Later, you can access all your blogs from one place.

Where to find help

Resources for bloggers using WordPress.com include:

Any question you have about how to use WordPress, or modify your WP blog, can be answered via a simple search at the support site -- or by searching the how-to videos.

Example: At the support site, type the word photos in the search box. Here's what you'll get.