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WordPress Blog for Beginners

Making the first post on your WordPress Blog

Youíve started your new WordPress blog and set up your chosen design so it looks just right. And now itís time to write your very first post. Are you ready?

If youíre logged in and sitting at your dashboard, there are two ways to open up that blank post. Either click on the "New Post" button along the top of the dashboard, or go down the left margin, move your cursor to the "Posts" category, and then click on the arrow that appears on the right end of that little bar. That will drop a menu down, where youíll see that one of the options is "Add New." Click there.

And voila! That very first empty blog template opens up and awaits your pearls of wisdom. Ready to write? Letís go, then.

What do I write about?

You probably already have some idea what you want to write about, if youíve actually started a blog. You may plan to make this a recipe blog, or one about cats, or one that keeps track of the doings of your favourite actor or keeps tabs on some politicians. Still, itís likely to take a few posts for you to find your feet and gain some momentum.

So make this first post an introduction, if you like. Talk a little about yourself Ė nothing too personal, of course, and certainly nothing you'd prefer to keep private. Just explain why you've started the new blog, and where you hope to take it. Or if you're pretty clear about your first topic, launch right in. This is your blog, and you can do what you like with it. Remember, though, that if it's a topical blog, you'll want most of your posts to keep fairly close to that topic.

Opening your WordPress Blog Template

When you open that first posting window, your cursor will be sitting in the very top box, which is where you put the title of your post. Once you've put in your title and moved the cursor down to the main text box below, your WordPress blog software will generate a "permalink" just below the title box, that will show you what the URL will be for this post. WordPress bases its URLs for individual posts on the title they're given.

But now you're in the text box itself, and as you stare that blog template in the eye, the first thing you'll notice is that there are two tabs above the posting box, one saying "Visual" and the other "HTML." If you know HTML fairly well and would like to write your blog post that way, you can choose the second tab. Even if youíre not that familiar with this way of coding text, you can occasionally tweak a few things here.

But the easiest way to write your blog post is by choosing the "Visual" tab. Here you'll see more or less what your post will look like when it's published. The available controls are a lot like what you find in a word processor, and in fact, a lot of them use the same buttons that word processors do. They'll let you do the standard things, like bolding or italicizing words, centering text, cutting and pasting text, using headings, and other word processing functions. And if any button looks unfamiliar to you, hold your cursor over it, and a small box will pop up that explains the function of that button.

Can you add pictures to your WordPress blog? Yes!

Once you've recognized the word processor-like buttons, you'll undoubtedly notice that those aren't the only symbols or buttons at the top of the posting box. There are a few other symbols on the same level as the "Visual" and "HTML" tabs, and it's these that allow you to upload photos and add video or audio files.

Your WordPress blog comes with a built-in Media Library that you can add such files to and then insert into your posts. The symbol that looks like a little sun brings up the "Add Media" window, allowing you to find these files on your computer and upload them. Or you can use the three adjacent symbols to add specific kinds of media (image, audio, video).

If you've already uploaded one of these files, you also use these symbols to insert those into the post. You click the start of the paragraph where you want that particular file to be inserted, then click on one of these symbols to find the file you want in the Media Library. We'll discuss the use of Media files in a later article, but for now, it's good for you to know what those symbols refer to, and the flexibility they give you with your blog content.

Blog Tags and Categories

But perhaps you don't want to get that elaborate in your first post, so let's have a look along the right side of your screen, beside the New Post window. The boxes down this margin are where you decide what categories your blog post fits into, and how it's going to be labelled so other people can find it if they're interested in its subject matter.

In the "Publish" box, you'll see that you can save this post as a draft, so you can work some more on it before it ever sees the light of day on the blog itself. In the "Visibility" section in that box, you can make this post private, make it so that only people with the right password can view it, or you can keep it public. "Public" is the default, so you only have to concern yourself here if you want to change that. This "Publish" box is also where you can schedule your post to be published at a specified time if you want. This is handy for when you're on vacation but still want blog posts to keep publishing so your readers will have regular updates.

But the really interesting things about categorizing your posts come in the next two boxes. The "Post Tags" box lets you indicate the specific topics of the post. If you're following Jones the politician, who gave a speech in Toronto the other day about foreign policy, you could put the words "Jones", "speech", "foreign policy", and "Toronto". (Type each separate labelling word or phrase with commas between them.)

In the box below that, "Categories," you would have much broader slots in which to fit many different blog posts. So you could have one category as "Speeches", which you would check off for this post. You might have other categories like "Voting Record" or "Scandals", which you'd check off for blog posts with different topics.

Let's Publish your WordPress Blog Post!

And you're almost ready! Now that you know what all the buttons do, have seen some of the other bells and whistles, and know how to categorize and label your blog post, all that remains is to write it. When you're done, click on that little "ABC" button at the top of the posting box and activate the spell-checker, to make sure the post is as clean and readable as possible.

Once you've done that, copy a pithy couple of lines from your post and paste them into the "Excerpt" field below your posting box. This will be the bit of text that shows up in feeds when people subscribe to your blog, so find something that will really grab their attention and make them want to read the whole post.

There is more detail about how to use all the buttons and controls available on the WordPress site in its "Support" section. But even just knowing the most basic uses of the various tools and buttons, you're already in a good position to get started on your career as a proficient blogger.

So with everything typed and checked, there's just one thing left to do. Click "Publish" and set your blog post free!

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