Journalists' Toolkit

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A training site for multimedia and online journalists

WordPress Basics

By Mindy McAdams Updated 20 Aug 2013

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 (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).
    • Use your real e-mail address. You will receive an email from WordPress, and you must confirm your email address.
    • You cannot change your username later, so choose wisely). This username and password will be for ALL your WordPress blogs.
    • The blog address is the URL that others will see. It should be easy to type it correctly.
    • 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.)
    • Write a suitable tagline.
    • Don’t forget to click Save Changes at the bottom.
  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.
    • Note: Lots of themes are “Premium,” which means you would have to pay. There are hundreds of free themes, so just keep looking until you find one you like.
  5. Write your first new post — and publish it. (Watch the 2-minute video to learn how.)
  6. Delete a post if you need to. (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:

  • How-to videos
  • The official WordPress.com blog
  • The official support site (best of all!), where typing your question or the name of a feature into the huge search box at the top of the page will bring you a clear answer to almost any question (trust me, I have used it many times!)

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: Would you like to add a photo to a blog post? At the support site, type the word photos in the search box. Here’s what you’ll get.