This week we’re going to continue last year’s post-Blissdom blogging series with more tips for taking your blog to the next level based on my own experiences and lessons I learned at BlissDom. But before we jump in, I wanted to write a basic post for those readers who want to start blogging but have no idea where to start.
There are many different “platforms” on which you can host your blog — TypePad, Blogger, WordPress.com or WordPress.org, LiveJournal, Moveable Type and more. I host at WordPress.org because it allows me to have my own domain name, run advertising and control all aspects of my site using WordPress’s platform.
If you have aspirations of turning your blog into a business, those are all things you’ll need to think about eventually, but if you’ve never set one up before and aren’t familiar with HTML, I would recommend starting with a simpler system, such as a WordPress.com blog, which gives you a custom URL on the WordPress domain, like myblog.wordpress.com.
For the purpose of this post, I’m going to share instructions for setting up a WordPress.com account and blog for beginners who just want to try out this blogging thing before jumping in with both feet.
To get started:
1. Go to WordPress.com and click on Sign Up Now.
2. Fill out all of the required account information and click submit.
3. Select a blog name and custom URL and click Sign Up.
4. Finish filling out your profile while you wait for your activation email.
5. Click on the link in the email to activate your account. Be sure to check your spam folder if it doesn’t show up within a couple of minutes.
6. Click on View Your Site to get an idea of what your new blog looks like.
7. Log in to begin customizing your site.
A downside of WordPress.com is that you do not have the ability to customize the appearance to the same degree that you do with a self-hosted blog on WordPress.org. However, if you start blogging and decide you want to be able to do more, you can always move to WordPress.org down the road.
To begin customizing the look of your blog, scroll down to Appearance on the left menu bar. Choose from the following options:
- Themes allow you to choose the basic layout and look of your site.
- Widgets control what goes in your sidebar.
- A Custom Header allows you to change the wording or upload your own picture to be used at the top of your blog.
- Header Colors gives you the option to change the background colors if you keep the standard header.
- Use the Typekit Fonts option to change the fonts that appear on your blog. You need to create a free account at Typekit.com in order to do this.
- Follow the step-by-step instructions to edit your CSS, which changes the appearance of your posts and the elements of your blog.
Now that you have your site set up, you can begin posting.
You’ll notice there is already a sample post set up, but if you click on Posts, it will bring up a list of the current posts, including the one title “Hello World”. Hover over that post title until the options show up underneath it, and then click on “Trash” to delete the post.
You can then click on “Add New” and begin writing your first post. Note that there are two ways you can view your post — Visual and HTML — using the tabs above the post window. If you’re not familiar with HTML, write your post in the Visual view and add any formatting using the toolbar at the top of the post window. You can then click on the HTML tab to get an idea of the code used to make it look the way it does.
Click Publish and you’re done. Congratulations, you’re now a blogger!
Obviously, this just scratches the surface on setting up a new blog. Here are some additional tutorials and tips to help you get started:
If you’re just getting started, what other questions do you have about blogging? If you’re an established blogger, what do you wish you’d known when you started?