Journalists' Toolkit

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A training site for multimedia and online journalists

10 ‘next steps’ to improve your WordPress blog

So you have set up a WordPress.com blog. Congratulations! I’m sure you are feeling proud of yourself — and you should.

I hope you have selected a theme that you like a lot (if not, you can change it easily).

I hope you have written and published your first post.

Here is a list of things you need to do next — and that means now — to make your blog speak for your competence and intelligence. What I mean to say is, your blog looks amateurish if you fail to do these things.

1 ) Change your TIME ZONE to the closest city that’s in the same time zone as you (so that the time stamp is correct on your posts). Change this in Settings (see instructions).

2 ) Give your blog an intelligent TAGLINE (instead of “Just another WordPress.com weblog”). Change this in Settings (see instructions).

3 ) Upload a distinctive PHOTO so people can identify your comments easily (it does not need to be your face). Change this in Settings (see instructions).

4 ) Write something on your ABOUT page (see instructions) so it doesn’t say this: “This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself …” (Nothing says “Amateur!” quite as obviously as an unchanged About page.)

5 ) Customize your blog’s sidebar with WIDGETS (see instructions). For example, if your blog theme has a calendar on the side, you can remove it (why do you need that anyway?). You can add your own blogroll, or links to your own Twitter or Facebook pages. Some blog themes have two sidebars; some have a footer; all can be customized with widgets.

6 ) Learn how to embed images in your blog.

7 ) Learn how to embed YouTube videos in your blog.

8 ) Is the “site title” of your blog something like john’s Blog or maria’s Blog? Is that really the best you can do? Just look at the highlighted posts on the WordPress.com home page to see the clever and creative titles people have chosen for their blogs.

9 ) Delete the “Hello, World!” post. This is the little dummy post that every WordPress blog has as its first post. It looks quite stupid to keep this post on your blog. Learn how to delete it — and any other post you don’t want to keep.

10 ) Learn the difference between TAGS and CATEGORIES. Then decide how you want to use these on your blog.

Blogging resources updated

Do you need some tips for better blogging? Or maybe a kick in the pants to get started on a new blog? Don’t just sit there staring at the screen!

I’ve added the Blogging Resources page to this site and made some updates.

I must confess, my resources are WordPress-heavy, because it’s my preferred blogging platform. If you would like to make a case for another blogging platform, leave a comment!