Writing Your First Blog Post

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You know what they say about first impressions¬† — well, your first blog post is the chance to make a good one. Your blog’s starting post will set the tone of your blog and let readers know what to expect from future posts. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Introduce Yourself — Tell your readers a bit about who you are and what prompted you to start your new blog.
  • Introduce Your Blog — Let us know the purpose of your blog and what subjects you plan to discuss and maybe how often you plan to post new content.
  • Tell Readers How We Can Interact — If you allow comments or have a forum, you may wish to let readers know in your initial post. If you like to interact with readers on FaceBook or Twitter, give links to your profiles on those sites and/or other social media sites.

Creating the Post

Now that you’ve got a general idea of WHAT to post, let’s go over the HOW part by introducing you to the WordPress “Add New Post” screen.

When you select Add New Post from your Dashboard’s Posts menu, you’ll arrive at a screen with a lot of boxes. For first-timers, this can be as overwhelming as the menu board at McAlister’s Deli, but, like McAlister’s, once you’ve visited a few times, the shock from choice-overload fades quickly, and you’ll look forward to your next visit.

Post Title

The empty rectangular box at the screen’s top center is your title box. As soon as you type in your title and hit the tab key to go to the post box, a Permalink will appear. This is what will show in the address bar of¬† the reader’s browser. We’ll discuss titles at length soon, but keep in mind when you write yours that your post title is the number one tool you have when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. If you title your post something cute, such as, “Guess What!,” it won’t help your search engine rankings. That may or may not be important to you, depending upon the purpose of your blog.

Post Editor

The Post Box has a built-in editor where you can add bullets, bold or italicize your font, and several other options. We’ll come back to the editor’s toolbar in a minute, but look just above that and find the Upload/Insert icons. These icons link to popup windows that will allow you to upload images, video, audio, etc.

Most of the editor toolbar icons will be familiar to you if you’ve used a wordprocessing program before, but if you look just to the right of center, you’ll see an icon with a small box on top of a larger box with a dotted line between them. (It’s small — you may have to squint!) This button will insert a More Tag. You may have noticed that on the home page of this blog, only the first part of the post displays and you have to click to continue reading. That’s because I’ve inserted the More Tag after my post’s introduction. This is optional, and as you’re browsing through WordPress themes, you’ll likely run across some that automatically truncate posts, in which case the More Tag is not needed.

The next icon you may not be familiar with is called the Kitchen Sink. It’s just to the right of the Full-screen toggle icon. Clicking on the Kitchen Sink icon enables another line of editing tools, which gives you a number of options. You probably already noticed that moving your mouse over each icon displays the icon’s title.

Right below the text box is a status bar that gives your the post’s word count, autosave information, and who the post author is. (Note: If you have more than one user with Author privileges, set up in the Authors & Users menu of the settings, another box will appear in the right sidebar to select the post author.)

Tags & Categories

The Tag and Category boxes are located in the right sidebar. We’ve discussed these briefly during the Touring the WordPress Dashboard post, and I figure we’ll have future posts on these well, in the future.

Advanced Features

There are a lot more boxes we won’t discuss today, such as Excerpts, Trackbacks, the HTML editor, and Custom Fields. Plus, depending upon which theme you select, more boxes may appear on the Add New Post screen.

Publishing Your Post

I’ve saved the best for last — publishing your first post to your new blog! The Publish menu box is in the upper right sidebar.

Now that you’ve typed in what you want to say, formatted it the way you want, and used the handy spell-check feature on the editor’s toolbar, it’s time to publish your post. If you post isn’t quite ready for prime time, you can click on the “Save Draft” button and finish composing or editing your post later. Once you’ve saved your draft, you’ll be able to preview it in your blog just as it will appear once it’s published by clicking on Preview. A new window will open to display your post. You can still make changes. In fact, you can come back and edit your post even after it’s published, but we’ll save that topic for another day.

Post Publishing Options

You may want to password protect your post and only grant access to those you choose. If you click “Password Protected,” a box will appear for you to type in your password. If the post is private, no one but you and your blog’s other editors & admins can see it. You can also make the post “Sticky,” which means it’ll appear at the top of your list of recent blog posts. You may have seen “sticky topics” in forums — this feature works the same way.

Scheduling Your Post

The final topic for this post is scheduling. You’ll notice a little calendar icon next to the words “Publish immediately.” If you click on the Edit link, you can enter the date and time you wish for your post to appear and then click OK. If you change your mind, simply click Edit again and then click Cancel. You can also choose to delete your post by clicking the red (warning) Delete link. This only appears after you have saved your draft, and if you click it, a warning box will pop up before you’re able to delete the post permanently, so don’t worry about bumping it accidentally.

Finally — the Publish key. Go ahead, click it! Then go to View Site and see your brand-spankin’ new first post displayed on your new blog.

Pop the cork, you’ve officially launched your blog!

(Note: This post concludes our “Start a Blog” series.)

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