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How To Set-Up Your Free WordPress Blog

How To Set-Up Your Free WordPress Blog

For bloggers, there are several platforms on the Internet where anyone can have a free blog merely for the time it takes to register and set one up. This particular article will deal with how to set one up on WordPress. I will give equal time in a follow-up article to Blogger of course, however if you want to use a program other than these two, drop me a message and I'll see what I can find out for you.

Okay, on with our instructional.

 

1. Visit WordPress.com – you will need to have an email address where you can receive messages relating to your blog, or subscriber requests. Write down your password somewhere safe, unless it is one you can easily remember. Retrieval of a forgotten password is a hassle.

2. Choose a URL -There are two ways to choose a URL. One is to choose based upon what you like, something catchy, or your name or the name of your business. The other is to choose something that the search engines will like. Now, there are two schools of thought on this – half the SEO gurus I've spoken with say it doesn't matter one jot what you choose, the other half say it makes a big difference. Without doing substantial research on my own, I couldn't say. I will say this, IF by some chance you should go viral, having either your business name or something catchy will increase your odds that folks will remember you – I believe.

The name of your blog can be anything you like, so have fun there.

3. At the bottom of this screen you will have the option to choose a paid service or the free one. If you want to pay more for the service and get the extras, do so, otherwise, choose Free.

4. The next screen you see should be the one telling you that the blog is yours, but if not, don't worry, it simply means that you need to choose another URL as yours is taken. When you get to this screen, click the link for 'Visit your dashboard'

You can play around here if you're feeling a little confident at this point. You can't mess anything up or delete anything important. WordPress asks you about 19 times before they delete your blog and even then you have to confirm it in an email, plus with no posts or pages set up yet, you can feel free to wander fearlessly.

The most important aspects of your dashboard for the time being are going to be the Appearance, Settings, and Posts tabs.

Appearance Tab

Here is where you will find options for customizing your new WordPress blog. Your first visit should be to the Themes area where you will select a theme for your blog. Keep a few things in mind as you choose to give you an idea of what features you will want.

If you want followers or other widgets, you'll need at least one sidebar.

If you want to have a custom header, you'll need to choose a theme with that option.

And if possible, you should try to choose a theme that will convert well for mobile users, as things really are leaning that way in the future.

Some themes will have additional customization options. These will also be found under the Appearance tab where it says 'Theme Options'.

Widgets

I could literally write an entire article on widgets so we're only going to cover a few very basic things and then you can play with them and see how they work and which you like on your own. The most important widgets if you want to be seen and/or followed on your blog are of course the Subscription options, and the Social Sharing options. You can have both email subscriptions and RSS feed subscribers – though with Google disbanding their reader, I'm not sure where we'll all be going with that. I know there are other readers out there, but I haven't found one I like yet.

Include widgets for Contact Info, Categories, Archives, and Meta (this last one allows you to log-in from any page on your blog... VERY handy to have around, trust me.)

Settings Tab

The settings tab lets you establish who will be able to see your blog, what will appear on it, and other privacy and media settings. For now, the most important settings are in the General, Reading, and Sharing categories.

In the General category – Make sure you change your blog name from 'My Blog' to your real blog name. Pick a tagline if you want. If not, be sure to delete the one WordPress provides. Make sure your email address is correct. Correct your timezone. This will give your posts the correct time when posted – same for the date format and time. Make sure you hit save!

In the Reading category – Make sure you have 'Your latest posts' marked. We can get into what the static page setting means some other time. Most of these are preset, and unless you have some reason for wanting to share less than 10 posts per page (a good number), I'd just leave it. As long as 'Allow search engines to index this site' is set, you can hit save on this one too.

In the Sharing category – These are the networks that will appear at the end of every blog post you publish. At the very LEAST, you should have Facebook connected. Eventually though you will definitely want to include LinkedIn and Twitter in the mix too. Be sure to move some of the Available Services into the Enabled Services section.

Posts


Finally right?

This is pretty self-explanatory, but I will add one piece of information. Categories and Tags are NOT one in the same. Tags will be placed on each post to tell your readers and search engines what the post contains. Categories on the other hand are a way to 'file' your posts in a kind of order. They only appeal to readers, but they are among the most useful tools for readers to find posts by you regarding specific topics.

You can post as much as you like in the beginning, but a good rule to follow is to always try to give something to the reader that they didn't already have when they came to your site. So if all you have for a post one day is that you drank coffee or something, you might want to wait until you have more to offer. Most established blogs post 2 to 4 times a week, with some rare heavy hitters posting every day. Believe me, you'll know when you get to that point.

There is obviously a ton more information that I can give you on this, but if you can get through this, you can play with everything else until you find what you like. I will warn you though, this can take some time. So be sure to set aside a few hours where you won't be interrupted and try to have a few posts ready to publish. Your theme will look better with a few posts and therefore make it much easier to choose.

It's not hard once you get going, I promise. Have fun with it!

And if you want to be sure to catch future articles on blogging and online writing (including my instructional on Blogger blog set-up), make sure you friend me here.


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