Now that you’ve created your wordpress.com account and your first blog site, let’s get started doing some configuration and basic settings:
- Navigate to your blog’s administration section and configure some basic settings.
- Get around the WordPress.com Reader.
- Get around your blog’s dashboard.
- Move comfortably between the Reader and your dashboard.
- Publish a post with text and images.
Configure basic site settings
Okay, you’ve got a site and a profile. One of the two most important settings you’ll probably want to customize right away is your site title and tagline. To get you started, we’ve given your blog the same title as your username, but that might not be what you want. And right now, you’ve got a generic tagline like “This WordPress.com Site is the Bee’s Knees” — time to change them.
In your dashboard, go to Settings >> General, and enter your site’s title and your new tagline. If you don’t want to have a site tagline or can’t think of anything to enter right now, just delete the text that’s there:
Here’s how the site title and tagline look on the site:
It might look a little different on yours, because every theme displays the title and tagline a little differently.
In this section, you can also set your site’s timezone, and choose a date format and a time format; if you’re not in the US, you can have the date display in whatever format you normally use. You can also select the day the week starts on and the language for your blog.
Congrats — you’re officially a blogger! Now that you’ve got the basics of a site it’s time to learn your way around WordPress.com!!!
Learn your way around WordPress.com
By the end of this section, you’ll know how to:
- Get around the WordPress.com Reader.
- Get around your blog’s dashboard.
- Move comfortably between the Reader and your dashboard.
When you become a part of WordPress.com, you’re actually getting two awesome services for the price of none: your blog, plus your Reader, which brings every WordPress.com blog together in one easy-to-search place. Your blog is where your ideas come to life, and your Reader is where you connect with other WordPressers — our community hub. We’ll help you get comfy with both so you get the most out of WordPress.com.
Don’t fear the Reader
When you log in to WordPress.com, you’ll land in your Reader. It’ll look a little something like this:
It’s filled with juicy posts just waiting to be read and commented on — the currency of the blogosphere.
We call it “your” Reader on purpose. It’s not just a place to find what we think is worth finding; it’s a place you make your own and tailor around things you love, so every time you log in, you find something new that speaks to you.
There are four main things you’ll do here:
- Find great stuff to read.
- Catch up with blogs you follow (once you’ve found them).
- Check your blog’s statistics obsessively (no shame!).
- Post to your blog on the fly.
Let’s take a look at each one, shall we?
Find great stuff to read
You don’t just want to write blog posts and have them sink into the bottomless pit of the internet, you want people to read them. The best way to attract readers is to read and comment on others’ blogs, and the best way to find blogs to read is with the (oh-so-appropriately named) Reader.
If you’re not sure where to start, start with bloggers you know: our friend finder will check out your Google, Facebook, and Twitter contacts and spit out a list of blogs they write on WordPress.com.
You’ll need to authorize WordPress.com to connect with your accounts. We promise to use our powers only for good; you’ll never see posts from us on in your Facebook feed just because your authorized the connection.
Put in your username and password, and give us a few seconds while we find your friends’ blogs. To follow their blogs, just click “follow” next to their photo, and your Reader will collect their new posts for you to browse at your leisure.
(No friends found? Maybe you should give ‘em a nudge.)
When you’re ready for some more exploring, give some of our hand-picked content a try — it’s been verified by Very Official WordPress.com Experts as being certifiably awesome. Freshly Pressed features new posts on a wide variety of topics daily, while our Recommended Blogs make it quick and easy to browse great blogs based on topic:
Pick the topics you’re interested in, and get a selection of sites that (we hope!) are right up your alley.
When you want to truly head into the unknown, use the topic list in the Reader to search for whatever you want. We’ve pre-populated it with some of the more popular topics along with things we think you’ll like, but you can add and delete topics at will to create a custom listing — the real beating heart of the Reader.
Delete a topic by clicking the “x,” and use the search bar to add new topics. Search for specific subjects, people in the news, recipes, movies, current events, whatever — get creative. Within each topic, the Reader will display a list of all posts from WordPress.com bloggers that have been tagged with that topic, starting with the most recent.
To help you decide what to read, you’ll see an excerpt from the post, along with the title, blog name, and any images in the post. Click the title to be taken directly to the whole post on the individual blog, click the blog’s name to see a list of the blogger’s most recent posts, or just hit Follow to add future posts to your Reader:
Once you’ve found some blogs you enjoy, use them to find others. Many bloggers keep blogrolls of their favorite reads, and you can visit the blogs of commenters saying interesting things. The blogosphere is interconnected in so many ways, and heading down a new path almost always unearths something worth finding.
You might think you just signed up for WordPress.com to get a blog. Using the Reader gets you so much more — it gets you a community. And being active in the community ultimately benefits your blog, bringing you readers, Likes, and comments (thus making your thrice-daily visit to your stats page much more satisfying).
Action time! Head to your Reader and find three new blogs to follow.
1. Pick one on a topic you talk about on your own blog. Look for the topics you are your interested in. Use single keywords or combination of words i.e.: “san diego” “culture” “social issues” “travel”
2. Pick a blog on a topic you love to learn about but don’t write about yourself; use the topics in the Reader to find it.
3. Pick one blog that you found by clicking on a blogroll or blog commenter.
Catch up and manage blogs you follow
You don’t have hours to spend each day trolling the depths of topics in the Reader, unless you’re willing to give up sleep. Luckily, the Reader is happy to be on the job 24 hours a day, collecting new posts from your favorite bloggers so you can catch up on your beauty sleep and wake up to your new reading refreshed. You can even have it pull in posts from non-WordPress.com blogs (like Tumblr or Blogger) to get your complete bloggy fix in one spot.
You probably picked some blogs to follow while you were first registering (yay!). Once you’re registered and exploring the community, there are a few different ways to follow blogs you love:
From the Reader: Click “follow” next to any blog post in the Reader.
From an individual blog: Click “follow” in the toolbar at the top of any blog. (You can also use this to unfollow a blog at any time.)
From your “Blogs I Follow” panel: “Blogs I Follow” is where we corral all the posts from folks you follow. Clicking Edit lets you add non-WordPress.com blogs. Just insert the address of the blog and click — you guessed it! — Follow.
Now, when you visit the “Blogs I Follow” tab in the Reader, you’ll be able to see all the new posts from people you’re following, starting with the most recently published. Scroll through the list to see what everyone’s been up to, and click through to what looks most intriguing.
There’s no need to be stingy with your follows. If a blog looks interesting, add it to your Reader; you can’t max it out, so the only limit is the quantity of new posts you can read before your eyes cross. If you end up not enjoying a site, just unfollow. As with topics, you can follow and unfollow at will — your Reader is a constantly-updated, living reflection of your interests.
When you follow a blog, you can also decide how you want to get new posts — just via “Blogs I Follow,” or by instant, daily, or monthly email. You might choose the instant email option for blogs your particularly love, to make absolutely sure you don’t miss a post, or the daily email to collect all the content from a blog that posts multiple times a day. If you’re committed to inbox zero, you might opt for no email at all.
To change or update your email delivery settings globally, head to your Manage Delivery Settings page and choose your settings. These will apply to every blog you follow. (You can also choose to block every email from WordPress.com here, but we hope you don’t!)
If you want to change your settings for a specific blog, you can do that too. Head back to “Blogs I Follow” and click Edit to access the complete list of blogs you’re following. Click Edit again next to a particular blog’s title to update the settings for that blog only.
Post to your blog on the fly
The last useful Reader function is the ability to quickly post directly from the Reader, without going to your dashboard (coming next). We’d recommend using your dashboard for longer, more involved posts, but for times when you’re browsing the Reader and have a sudden thought (especially if you just want to get it down before it flits away, and hang on to it for later) or want to respond quickly to another blog, posting from the Reader is the perfect way to publish something without wrecking your flow.
Up in the right-hand corner, next to your Gravatar, you’ll see an orange and white star and a little pencil icon next to the words “New Post.” I’ll let you guess which one to use.
(Clicking the star will show you your most recent notifications — that is, all the Likes and comments on your posts.)
To help streamline the experience, we’ll ask you what you want to post: text, images, video, a quote, or link.
Pick your poison, and a post editing box will pop up right in the Reader. You can write and publish, or save your idea as a draft to come back to and flesh out later.
For the nitty-gritty on all those little icons in the post editing box, which we call the Visual Editor, as well as more step-by-step deails on posting from the Reader, pop over to Get Published.
Master your dashboard
The second major piece of your WordPress.com experience is your blog (or blogs), which is probably why you ended up here in the first place. The dashboard is your blog’s mission control center.
First things first: how do you get to your dashboard? There are a few ways:
If you’re not already logged in to WordPress.com, you can go straight to your dashboard and bypass the Reader by entering:
in your browser’s address bar. You’ll be asked for your login information, and will then be whisked directly to your dashboard.
If you’re already hanging out in the Reader — all the cool kids do — click “My Blogs” to access a listing of all the blogs you own or administer. Under the blog’s name, you’ll see “Blog admin.” Click it.
You’ll also see your Gravatar in the upper right hand corner of the Reader. If you hover over it, a drop-down menu will appear and the first item will be the name of your primary blog. Click it to go directly to the dashboard.
Success! You’re in the brains of the operation. In your dashboard, you can do everything from publishing a post to changing the whole layout of your blog to buying your own domain name. It might look like a whole lotta options at first, but you’ll soon come to find which tabs you use most and what happens where. Don’t be afraid to explore all the tabs — you can’t break WordPress.com, and anything you undo can be undone if you don’t like it.
The home page
The dashboard is an at-a-glance overview of what’s happening with your blog. You can catch up on news, view your draft posts, see who’s linking to you, check out basic stats, quickly put out a no-frills post, or moderate and respond to your latest comments. You can see how much storage space any photos or videos you’ve uploaded are using, and can check out what’s popular across all of WordPress.com. It’s a quick-and-dirty blog in a nutshell.
You can pretty much click on anything on this page to get more detail — click “Posts” to access a list of everything you’ve written, or the title of a draft to start working on it again. Click a commenter’s name to head over to their blog.
You’ll also see a menu running down the left side of the screen:
These options let you get into the nuts and bolts of your blog. Wait, take a deep breath — we told you WordPress.com was going to be simple, and now you’re looking at a ton of options. Don’t worry! You don’t need to know everything at once, it’s all simple to use, and remember: you can’t break it, and you can always undo.
Menu options: the important ones
For the time being, most of the good stuff you’ll want is under Posts, Pages, Comments, Appearance, and Settings. You can publish your content in a beautiful, customized layout using only those tabs. As you settled in and become a Power WordPress.com User (TM!), you can explore the rest; there are detailed support documents explaining how to use every function that you can check out as you go. (We’ll also review those quickly in the next section.)
Even though it comes lower down in the dashboard, let’s start with Appearance so you can get your site looking good before you tell the world about it. Click it — go ahead, we’ll wait — and you’ll get these options:
This is Command Central for how your blog looks. You can pick a new theme, choose the widgets you want to use and configure them, create a custom menu or upload a custom header, and more.
If you’re ready to explore theme options, head over to Get Connected; if you want to learn about widgets and other customization options, jump to Get Configured. (If you’re not sure what a theme, widget, or custom header are, visit the glossary.)
At the bottom of the menu is the scrappy but powerful Settings tab, which offers these options. Here, you’ll do everything from decide how you want the time stamp on your post to look, to connect your blog to your Facebook account for easy cross-posting. We’ll explore some of the possibilities in Get Configured, but you should take a few minutes to poke around this section.
One of the key things you can do in Settings is update your blog’s title and tagline. Your blog’s address will always be the one you initially registered. Your title and tagline — what appears in the header of the site itself — can be anything you want. Your address may be myawesomeblog.wordpress.com, but your blog’s title can be My Awesome Blog, Jim’s Awesome Blog, Jim’s Awesome Blog About Widgets, or even Jim’s Widget-o-Rama. The same is true for your tagline. Every WordPress.com site comes with a basic tagline, like, “This WordPress.com site is the Bee’s Knees.” You can change that to anything you’d like, or delete it altogether. Head to Settings >> General to make the change.
Now for the Big Two: Posts and Pages. You came here to publish, right? There is where it’s done.
Use these menu options to start a new post or page, and or access all your published content and drafts. In fact, this bit is so central to your blogging experience that there’s a whole section of this guide on it — visit Get Published.
Finally, you’ll want to have a look at the Comments menu:
If you’re being a Good Citizen of the Blogosphere — visiting others, commenting on what they have to say, linking to blogs you love — it’s only a matter of time before your site starts getting comments of its own. This is where you manage them. Approve or trash comments, edit them, and check out your spam.
We’ve covered all the critical bits for getting started. Not so bad, right? Right. Feel free to head to Get Personality, Get Configured, or Get Published to start customizing and updating your blog, or read on for a once-over on the rest of the dashboard menu.
Menu options: the less important but still really cool ones
Media, Links, and Users: these are like the bottles in the second row of your spice cabinet. They’re nice to have around and you need them once in a while, but they’re not quite as central as the salt and pepper. They’re like the paprika of the dashboard.
Media is a catch-all term for files you’ve uploaded to WordPress.com, like photos and videos. Click on media to search through all the files you’ve uploaded, or to upload new ones:
Find a picture, see what post it’s in, and make basic changes like cropping and resizing. Use the upload option to upload all 134 of your pictures from that trip to Prague at once so they’ll be at the ready for your post. For more on working with media, hit up Get Flashy.
The Links tab is where you’ll build and manage your blogroll, if you’d like to have one:
Add links to the sites you love, WordPress.com or not — they don’t even have to be blogs. If you’ve got lots of sites to share on different topics, you can give them categories to help readers decide what they want to check out. When you’ve got a bunch of sites listed, use the Links widget to turn them into a blogroll. (More on widgets in Get Configured.)
Last but not least, the Users menu is where you’ll update your own profile and give others permission to publish or administer your blog:
If you’d like to have a guest post something or want your best friend to be able to log in to proofread your posts, you’ll create those permissions here. Invite people to join, and manage the level of access they have to your blog. Update your password under Personal Settings, and fill in the details of your profile (which will also appear with your Gravatar under My Profile).
You can find more detail on all these tabs in our support documents.
Action time! You’re still new, so we’ll go easy on you. To make sure you’re comfortable using your dashboard, click on four different tabs, and update a setting in each of them. We don’t even care which ones — we just want to get you clicking with confidence.
And that’s it! You’re a dashboard professional now; go forth and publish.
Have dual citizenship
The Reader and your dashboard are both key to squeezing every last drop of goodness out of WordPress.com; even if it seems like only one or the other will be useful to you, we encourage you to get to know them both and learn to move fluidly between them. To wrap up the tour, here are the intersections where you can pass easily from one world to the next:
From the Reader
When you’re in the Reader, the blue toolbar running across the top will deliver you to your dashboard post-haste:
Click “My Blogs” for a complete list of your blogs, and select a blog to visit, or hover over your Gravatar; selecting your blog name in the drop-down menu takes you right into its dashboard.
From your dashboard
From your dashboard, getting back to the Reader is a snap. See the “W” in the upper left-hand corner of the screen? Hover over it to activate the drop-down menu, and head right to your main Reader page or a secondary page like your stats or Freshly Pressed.
Publish a post
Ready to create a post? On WordPress.com you can publish a post in a few different ways. The speediest way is in your Reader, which we’ll talk about first.
Publish a new post in the Reader
When you’re logged in to your account, click on the New Post button on the top right of the toolbar. On the next screen, you’re asked: “What would you like to post?”
It’s not that we’re just nosy (although that’s also true) — we ask because you can choose the post format you want to publish: Text, Photo, Video, Quote, or Link. In the Text format, you can create text, but also add multiple images. If you want to share a single photo instantly, use the Photo format. The other formats are also great for quick posts — you can publish quotes that inspire you, or paste the URLs of videos and links you want to share.
(Note: as we discussed, not all themes support all post formats, so this screen might look a little different depending on your theme.)
Let’s publish a post with a basic image — go ahead and click on the Text option to pull up the box where you’ll write your masterpiece:
In the top field, insert a title. It’s optional, but we recommend it. Think of your post title like a news headline: succinct and focused on what your post is about, and intriguing enough to make people want to read it. If your title doesn’t make someone want to click on it, your post isn’t going to get read.
Action Time! In the bigger box underneath your title, write the text for your post. For your inaugural post, try a welcome message for your readers. You can browse the daily prompts and writing challenges in the Daily Post, or get started with one of these:
- What inspired you to start your blog?
- Describe the intended focus of your site and what your readers can expect.
- Introduce yourself: What do you do? What are your interests?
- Tell readers what your blog’s title means and why you chose it.
This is your first chance to pitch your baby blog to a great big blogosphere, so don’t hold back!
Feel free to play around with the various formatting buttons, which you may recognize from using a word processor: highlight some of your text and select the bold or italicized tools to change the look, create bullet points, add quoted material, and more. Click the kitchen sink button — the icon on the far right — to see more text formatting options.
Now, let’s throw in a picture. To add an image, place your cursor in the text where you’d like it to show up and click Insert Photo to upload a picture from your computer. After the image appears, you can edit it further: just click on it and select the picture icon on the top left to access more options:
You can align the image, add a title or caption, and access advanced settings. Not happy with the image at all? Delete it by clicking on the red crossed-out circle icon. (Don’t worry, we won’t leave you hanging — Get Flashy will help take your photojournalism skills to the next level.)
You’re almost at the finish line: in the bottom field, add words to “tag” your post. While tags are optional, they group related posts together on your blog and in the WordPress.com Reader, which makes it easier for people to find them and tells your readers what they’re about. If your post is about a book you’ve read, add general tags like “books,” “literature,” and “fiction,” as well as more specific tags like the author’s name (“George Orwell”) and the book title (“1984″). (We’ll talk more about tags later, in Get Connected.)
When you’re ready to flip the switch, click Publish Post. You’ll see a confirmation screen — hooray! — and can view this new post on your blog. You’re officially a blogger. How does it feel?
Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, experiment with the other post formats to publish instantly to your site.
Publish a new post in your dashboard
Another way to publish posts is in your dashboard by going to Posts >> Add New. This will pull up the Post Screen, which is where the magic will happen! This is the place to go when you want to publish something longer or more complex. This dashboard editor is similar to the editor in your Reader — it works a lot like your favorite word processing software, and you can insert a title and tags — but it allows you to do much more.
It looks a little something like this (don’t worry, we’ll walk you through each piece — baby steps!):
You’ll notice two tabs at the top of the Post Screen: Visual and Text.
You can toggle between these two modes as you create and edit your posts. In the visual editor, you’ll see your content as it’ll appear when published, and in the handy and powerful text editor, you can write and edit your post in HTML. When you need to add a shortcode, add some font styles, or paste in code from an outside source, you’ll use the text editor. (We’ll talk about shortcodes and other nifty things in the next section, Get Flashy.)
If “HTML” and “shortcodes” make you lightheaded, don’t worry — you can do most things without ever leaving the visual editor, and have a perfectly wonderful blog without knowing any HTML. (We bet you’ll eventually start exploring it, though, because it’s easy, fun, and opens new possibilities for your blog.)
There are two rows of icons in the visual editor. You can find out what any one of them does by hovering over it with your mouse; a pop-up will appear telling you what it is. Many of them will look familiar; you’ve probably seen them before in your word processing program of choice — bold and italic text, justification options, bullets, and more. If there’s anything you’re not sure about, you can take a comprehensive tour of all the options here.
Again, if you’re looking for inspiration for your first post, browse the daily prompts and writing challenges at the Daily Post, answer one of the prompts above, or whip something else up from your imagination. Whatever you feel like writing, plop it into the visual editor.
Got your text in place? Sweet. Let’s dive into the Media Manager to upload a few images (bonus internet points if they’re pictures of a cat).
Upload and insert images in your dashboard
As we reviewed, you can publish images instantly from your Reader. Here in the dashboard, you’ve got a powerful Media Manager to upload, edit, and manage your images. You can also upload audio and video files and create image galleries and slideshows, which we’ll discuss in Get Flashy.
Let’s make that cat famous. In the Post Screen, click on the Add Media button just above the box where you wrote your post:
Once you’ve opened your Media Manager, you can select the files you want to upload from your computer (hint: click Select Files) or drag and drop the files right from your computer’s desktop to the Insert Media screen. You can also add an image from the web using the Insert from URL option on the left, which is handy if you already have photo living online, say at Flickr. (If you use this option, remember that if an image file is hosted elsewhere and it’s removed from that location, the image will no longer appear on your blog — if you delete a photo from Flickr, you also delete it from your site. If you don’t want to worry about that happening, upload the file rather than using the URL.)
At the top of the Media Manager, you’ll see two options: Upload Files, which is where your new images will appear as they upload, and Media Library, which is where you can access your entire library of images. (Since this is your first time uploading images it’ll be empty, but that won’t last long.)
Once the upload process is complete, you can click on an individual photo to edit its settings on the right, under Attachment Details, before inserting it into your post. (We can’t turn this dog into a cat, but at least we’re still in the realm of adorable animals.) We can add an image title, caption, and description; and set the alignment, size, and image link options:
These are all optional settings, but they can be really useful: Caption will insert the caption under the image in your post, and Alt Text is the text that appears when you hover your cursor over an image (it’s also what screen reader users will hear if they’re using a screen reader to browse the web). Alignment controls whether the image is positioned left, right, or center on the page and whether you text wraps around it, and Link To lets you make the image clickable. Play around with these options to get the image formatting just the way you like.
Once you’ve edited these options, click the blue Insert into post button on the bottom right to plunk the image into your post. If you’re not happy with it, you can still make changes — just like the edit image tool in the Reader, you can click on an image in the visual editor to edit it. Look for the picture and red crossed-out circle icons to edit further, or to get rid of it and start from scratch.
One thing to remember is that you don’t have to re-upload an image you’ve deleted from a post — it’s still there, in your Media Library. You haven’t removed it from your library, just from that particular post. If you want to use it somewhere else (or re-insert it), you can access your already uploaded files by clicking the Media Library tab. You can also access your library from your dashboard by going to Media >> Library. Scroll through your library to find the image, and click it to edit and insert.
Action Time! You’ve probably got a whole bunch of photos stored on your computer — you may as well put them to work. Sift through your images and drag some of your favorites into your Media Library for possible future posts, like an “All About Me” or “Welcome” post, or a “Where I’m From” post with shots of your city. Once you upload them, give them a little more love in the Media Manager:
- Input a title, caption, and alt text for each image.
- Get a feel for the drag-and-drop tool and move thumbnails around.
- Test out the “Search” feature and insert titles in the box to pull up the images you’ve just uploaded.
More cool publishing tools
Other key tasks you can do in the dashboard editor are located on the right, in the Publish module:
Here, you can preview a post before publishing it by clicking Preview at the top right of the box (not to be confused with the blue Publish button below!), schedule a post to publish at a later time, or make a post private or password-protected. Think of this Publish module as your mini command center, where you control who sees a post and when it goes live. If you’re using Publicize to share your posts with social networks — which you’re probably not, because we haven’t gotten to that yet — you’ll see those settings here, too.
Below the Publish module, you can add tags, as well as categories. Categories are similar to, but broader than, tags. You can create categories based on your interests and the focus of your blog. For example, if you have a site about food, you could create categories for “recipes, “dessert,” or types of cuisine, or if you write about travel, you could have categories for particular countries or cities. Depending on your theme and widgets you’ve enabled, categories can be displayed in different places, like at the top or bottom of a post, or in your sidebar.
Once you’ve got your text, images, and settings just so, it’s time to hit the big blue button: Publish. Good job! Time to start planning the next one now.