Setting Up A WordPress Blog

If the idea of having and writing in a blog’s appealed to you, yet you’re under the impression that you have to know lots about programming, coding or web design in order to set one up — let me disabuse you of that notion! Today’s blogs are designed for the average person with little to no knowledge of HTML, CSS or web design (although there are options to got a lot more advanced if you do know your stuff).

As I’ve told some friends, “If you can type in a text box and hit the word ‘publish’, then you can start and run a blog.”

This thread is going to be to help new bloggers set up a WordPress blog, leading you through some of the more common questions and issues. The good news is that you can easily start a blog and get your first post up on the web in about ten minutes, and tweak your blog to look decent in about an hour. Seriously!

There are two main ways to set up a WordPress blog. The first is to install the free open source software on a host server of your choice (although you have to make sure they support WordPress). This is a little more complicated, but WordPress.org does a terrific job walking you through the steps of installation. Once you install the software, you can log in and handle the design and posting from inside the program itself.

[Important Note: no matter what you choose, bookmark WordPress.org for its handy guides and advice forums.]

The other way is simpler: to sign up for a free WordPress.com account and let them host your blog — no installation necessary. The only difference is that WordPress.com’s basic (free) hosting doesn’t allow for you to tweak your CSS (custom style sheets) or add new themes unless you pay to upgrade. Still, I used WordPress.com for a long time — still do for other blogs — and I highly recommend their site for new bloggers.

Starting a Blog with WordPress.com

1. Go to WordPress.com and sign up for a free account. During the sign up, you’ll be asked to create a name for your blog and a URL (XXXX.wordpress.com, where the XXXX is the name you pick — stunty.wordpress.com or gobbo.wordpress.com, for example). Don’t worry, you can change the blog name and URL later if you don’t like them, and you can even set up multiple blogs with the same account if you like.

2. Log in using your new user name and password. Click on your blog name (if you have multiple blogs on that account) to go to the correct blog.

3. This screen is your Dashboard — the central hub of all your blogging. Here you can make new posts, change the look and settings of your blog, and read any comments or stats concerning your blog.

4. You’ll want to set up the look of your blog first. On the left-hand menu, go to Appearance and select “Themes”. Here you can pick the overall look for your blog. (Hint: if you sort themes by “custom header”, you can go in later on and insert a custom header graphic for your blog, which is a nice touch for any Warhammer blog.)

5. Under Appearance > Widgets, you can assign “widgets” (drag-and-drop applets that show up on your blog’s sidebar) as you like. I recommend Archives, Links (your “blogroll”, or links to other sites), RSS (which stands for “really simple syndication”, a tool that lets people subscribe to your blog’s posts) and Search.

6. Under Appearance > Extras, I recommend you check the box that says “Hide related links”. Otherwise, every post you make will have a number of links at the bottom to other blogs’ postings, some of which might not be the sort of content you’d like to be advertising for your readers. It’s your choice tho.

7. The next section down on the left-hand menu is “Users”. In this submenu, you can assign multiple authors (if you want to invite friends to help you write your blog), create a profile for others to read, and invite others to try out WordPress.

8. Look down two menus to the “Settings” menu on the left-hand side. Here’s where you’ll make the last of your initial changes to your blog. Under “General”, make sure you have your blog title and tagline the way you like, along with tweaking any of those settings if you choose.

9. You can check out the other settings as well, but I highly recommend you take a look at the “Discussion Settings”, which has to do with commenting. How you handle commenting is different for different bloggers, but most fall into one of two categories. Some people let anyone post comments without prior approval, and some require direct approval on your behalf to be posted. From experience, I like to approve comments before they show up, but again, it’s up to you.

That’s really all you need to know to set up a blog — you can continue to tweak your look and settings later on, but at this point, you’re ready to get posting!

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WAAAGH! A Warhammer Online Blog