How to Blog Part 5: Filling in the Blanks
By: Lorelle VanFossen
Tags: about, about page, avatar, character, contact, contact form, contact page, dates, email, email notications, features, first post, gravatar, header, header art, hello world, hide email, how to blog, identify, languages, legal, notifications, obfuscation, pages, persona, policies, policy pages, post, profile, settings, style, time, time zone, user profile, voice, why wordpress, wordpress, wordpress features, wordpress installation, wordpress options, wordpress settings, wordpress setup
Category: How to Blog
By default, your WordPress site comes with some blanks that need filling in.
Complete your User Profile. Go to Users > My Profile and fill in the blanks.
It is up to you as to what you wish to share or not with your personal information.
You don’t have to use your real name, but we’re tired of “CuteChick69.” The social web appreciates a real sounding name, so choose a pseudonym.
In the section for Display name publicly as, type in the name you wish to have shown for article bylines. Otherwise, it may show “Admin” or a default that makes your site appear impersonal and incomplete.
Sharing your location, contact details, Skype, etc., that’s a personal choice.
Set your profile image, and also set your Gravatar, the image (avatar) that will be shown across WordPress sites when you leave a comment. It can also be used in your Gravatar profile hovercard.
This information will be displayed on your profile page on WordPress.com, and possibly on your Author pages (collection of posts you’ve written on the site) depending upon the settings and features of the WordPress Theme.
Blog Title and Tagline
Go to Settings > General and make sure your blog title is set. Also change the tagline to something that describes your site better.
The tagline can be “Blogging about cats and their antics” or you can name yourself with “Sally Smith’s Take on the World of Cats.”
Think of the tagline as another chance to let people know who you are and what you are blogging about.
Under Settings > Personal Settings, you can choose from a variety of settings to customize your publishing experience.
I recommend you use the Instant Post Feedback to begin, then turn it off when you grow tired of it.
I also recommend you connect your site with your Twitter account, unless it is experimental.
If you are new to blog writing and writing in general, consider using the Proofreading features of WordPress.com.
The About Page is the most important Page on your site. It is the page where you get to let the world know what you are blogging about and why, and share your expertise in the subject.
It’s a chance to share a little about you and the back story of this site.
I’ll cover more on writing About Pages on this site, so to get started, begin with a section on what this site is about, followed by a section outlining who you are and why you are blogging about these topics.
Remember, your About Page’s name is About, not about me, about us, about Sally, about the site. Just About. It has become a standard people look for when they want to know more about the author and the site.
It is critical that people have an alternative way of contact you besides comments. Create a Contact Page by going to Pages > Add New Page.
Title it Contact. Not contact us, contact me, or any other variation. Contact has become a standard people look for to contact the site’s author.
If you are on WordPress.com, use the Contact Form WordPress Plugin built into the service. It is located next to the Media Uploader. Follow the instructions to create the contact form.
If you are on a self-hosted version of WordPress, you can create your own form in HTML or use one of the many contact form WordPress Plugins from the WordPress Plugin Directory, access through the Plugins panel.
If you wish to feature your address and phone number, it’s up to you and your business. If you are a brick and mortar business, include a link to a map with driving directions, or the map itself on the Contact Page.
If you wish to use your email address, use one of the Email Obfuscation Tools and Scripts I recommend to disguise it in the browser but not for your readers for your own security.
The Hello, World! post is the first post, with the first comment, generated automatically on your site. I have two recommendations for this post.
Edit it to make it your own. It’s good practice and introduces you to the basics of WordPress publishing.
Delete it (or trash it in WordPress terminology). Create a first post of your own with your own title and words.
Set Your Site to Be in Experimental Mode
If you wish to use this site for testing and experimentation only, and you aren’t ready for prime time access, go to Settings > Privacy and select Ask search engines not to index this site.
Only those with a direct link will find the site. It will not be included in search engine results until you change the setting.
This allows you to make all the mistakes you wish, make changes, and mess around while allowing friends and others you trust to view the site and offer their opinion.
When you are ready for your site to go live, change the setting to allow search engines to index the site.
If you wish to lock it down further, you can choose I would like my site to be private, visible only to users I choose. The site would then require a password in order to be viewed, even by you. It also adds a warning and login screen to the public. In general, this is a last resort as the other is more user friendly, but it is an option.
Here are a few of the other blanks that will need filling.
- Most WordPress Themes offer custom header art. Go to Appearance > Header Art to add a graphic to your header art. Follow the Theme’s instructions for the image specifications.
- I do NOT recommend choosing a WordPress Theme at this point. Save your energy for content first. I recommend using the default WordPress Themes such as 2010, 2011, or 2012 until you have more content on your site. Choosing a WordPress Theme before you have content is like building a custom home based upon paint chip colors. Content first, design around content second.
- Go through all of the Settings to make sure the site behaves the way you wish.
- Set the time zone, date, and time format for your site to match your location on General.
- Want to blog in another language? Set the language settings so the interface of WordPress will change to that language on the General panel.
- How many posts do you wish someone to read on the front page of your site? Five, ten, twenty? Set that under Reading.
- Want email notifications for comments, trackbacks, and other notifications? Set those under Discussion.
- How much control do you wish to have over comment settings? Go through the list on the Discussion panel settings. You may change these later.
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