Blogging 101: First Steps

Hello, and welcome to the third post in my Blogging 101 Series. Today, we will get your blog up and running.

Your Dashboard is your blog’s main control panel. Take this quick video tour, and after that we’ll look closer at the Dashboard and tweak several settings to make your blog as safe and reader-friendly as we can.

If you would like a checklist to guide you through this lesson, print out the Blog Settings Handout.

Assignment #6: Explore the Dashboard

Log in to your WordPress.com account, and look around. Here are a few things to notice:

The Gray Admin Bar at the top is always visible when you are logged in. This gives you an easy way to get back to your Dashboard (your main control panel) from anywhere on WordPress.com. Just hover your mouse over your blog’s name, and then click Dashboard from the drop-down menu. Go to your blog’s Dashboard and look around.

When you’re on the Dashboard, you can click your blog’s name to go to your blog. Do that, and then see if you can find all the basic parts of a blog:

  • Header = where your blog name is shown.
  • Sidebar = links and information to help your readers.
  • Hello world post = your homework (see below).
  • About page = more homework.

Go back to your Dashboard and take a look around. Can you find all the following?

  • Sidebar Menu = all sorts of different places to find information about your blog.
  • Right Now = a quick glance at what’s on your blog.
  • Quick Press = an easy way to enter a short blog post and either Save Draft (if you plan to work on it more later) or Publish it right away.
  • Recent Comments = a quick way to moderate or remove comments. A big part of the fun of blogging is interacting with your readers through comments, so DON’T delete people’s comments unless they are mean or are spam. (But you will delete the sample comment as part of your homework.)
  • Recent Drafts = the posts you have started writing but have not yet published.
  • Stats = information about how many people have visited your blog recently. It does not count your own visits (if you are logged in).

Assignment #7: Tweak Your Settings

Now let’s get to work. Look in your sidebar for these options. If you don’t see sub-menus, then mouse over the name of the menu category to reveal the options.

  • Users > My Profile > Type your internet alias into the Display name publicly as box. The rest of the page can be left blank, for privacy.
  • Users > My Profile > If you have an avatar or photo that you like (perhaps one that you use on a social networking site), you can click the Gravatar link and follow the directions.

  • Remember to click Update Profile!
  • Settings > General > Set your Site Title to whatever you want to appear on your blog.
  • Settings > General > Remove the default Tagline, and leave it blank OR enter a short phrase that describes your blog.
  • Settings > General > Set your Timezone to match a city near you.
  • Remember to click  Save Changes!

Assignment #8: Encourage Comments

  • Settings > Discussion > All three of the Default article settings boxes should be checked.
  • Settings > Discussion > Under Other comment settings, I only require the name and email (the top box).
  • Settings > Discussion > For Email me whenever, all these boxes should be checked.
  • Settings > Discussion > For Before a comment appears, IF you want to moderate comments, then check the box that says, “An administrator must always approve the comment.”
  • Settings > Discussion > Yes, there’s still more! In the Comment Moderation section, there is a big box. Type into it every nasty, hateful word you can think of (or have your parents do this), one word per line. Any comment that has any of these words will automatically be held for moderation, no matter what your other settings are.
  • Settings > Discussion > Be careful: do NOT enter any words in the Comment Blacklist box!
  • Settings > Discussion > Almost done! Check the Follow Comments and Follow Blog boxes, because those options are very helpful to your readers.
  • Settings > Discussion > Choose your Maximum Rating. Pick the type of Default Avatar you want to use (for commenters who don’t have their own pictures).
  • Remember to click Save Changes!

Assignment #9: Now for Some Fun

  • Appearance > Themes > Finally, time to play! WordPress.com offers more than 200 blog themes to choose from, so you should be able to find at least one that matches your personality. Click Preview to see what the theme looks like. Click Activate if you want to keep it.

Assignment #10: Start Blogging!

1. Edit the Hello world post to tell about yourself. Remember to follow Internet safety! No full names or other personal details, but share with us a little about your hobbies, favorite books to read, favorite subjects in school, pets, or other interesting things. Be sure to click Update to save your changes!

2. Delete the sample comment.

3. Edit the About page to tell about you. Feel free to copy part of what you wrote in your Hello world post. Remember to click Update.

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About Denise Gaskins

I'm a veteran homeschooling mom who blogs about the adventure of learning, teaching, and playing around with mathematics from preschool to pre-calculus. If you enjoy my blog, please click here to check out my books. View all posts by Denise Gaskins

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