Blogging with WordPress comes in two versions. WordPress.org software (recommended) is open source and free but you need to pay for hosting your domain and other premium services. Blogging with WordPress CMS allows you to build websites for online stores, portfolios, businesses, blogs, etc. using WordPress themes and plugins. Monetization and customization of your website are possible. After installing WordPress make sure you choose a strong username and password. Back up your site and store it off your server. Run updates for plugins, themes, files, etc. and a WordFence security plugin can help.
Alternatively, sign up for a free plan of WordPress.com and use it for your blog or portfolio website with a WordPress.com branded URL e.g.: sapcanvas.wordpress.com. As your site grows and you want to use some advanced features e.g. accessing premium themes and live chat, additional storage space, etc. then you need to upgrade to a premium plan.
Table of Contents – Blogging with WordPress
Blogging with WordPress – Buy a Domain for WordPress.org
You will be required to buy a domain and use a hosting service to get WordPress installed on your site. Read more in detail about domain & hosting by clicking the link on Website Development and Build a Business Website,
Blogging with WordPress: Self-Hosted WordPress.org
You will have to avail of hosting services to make your website accessible using the World Wide Web. Many companies provide hosting services such as BlueHost, SiteGround, DreamHost, etc. But we have opted for SiteGround – a popular web hosting provider officially recommended by WordPress.
SiteGround Hosting covers a range of benefits such as –
- Location-specific hosting (3 data centers > USA, Europe, and Asia)
- Upgrade plans – GrowBig, GoGeek, WooCommerce etc
- Malware protection, free site migration, WAF -web application firewall, etc
- High user rating, in-house trained support team with security and speed solutions that keep your WordPress website safe and fast.
- Daily caching and backups, easy WordPress installation
- Free – SSL certificate + email accounts + unlimited databases etc.
Blogging with WordPress – Overview
WordPress is open-source CMS – Content Management System software that allows you to edit, publish, and modify the content of your website. (fig2) From the back-end update, customize and manage your site to build a dynamic website. The features include media & user management, SEO, imports, plugins, themes, etc.
Blogging with WordPress – Dashboard
On this page, you will see the ‘Welcome to WordPress’ with tiled sections (fig3) Find the screen options button at the top right which when clicked will give you a drop-down display of screen elements. Keep the check box unchecked if you don’t want to see these options. The updates screen under the Dashboard menu displays the current version of your core WordPress and the updated status of your theme and plugins. The menu to the left side allows you to configure WordPress.
Blogging with WordPress – Posts v/s Pages
Posts and Pages have similar formatting options with a title and body text but they do differ in applications. Understanding the difference between a post and a page plays a crucial role in understanding and using WordPress. It will enable you to organize your content by knowing how they relate and choosing from either of these options. Posts and pages are both pre-built in WordPress.
An example of a post is your blog content which is stored in order from recent to older content published by date/ author. They comprise the dynamic content of your site which is continuously evolving and often seen by your users. Sticky content means a published post that is pinned at the top of all your posts irrespective of the date of publication and can be an older post that will always be made to appear first. Posts can also be tagged with content-related keywords or archived and will appear in your RSS feed. Posts are found in the primary menu option of your dashboard under categories. The various topics of your post link to one another. They are methodically organized under date, author, tags, categories, meta-description, etc.
Blogging with WordPress – Categories v/s Tags
Grouping of content on Blogging with WordPress is done with the help of Categories and Tags. Categories are general. An example is a classification of women with hair color e.g.: black, blonde, red, and brunette. While labels tend to be more specific with details. An example is “food labels” detailing the nutritional information containing carbs, dietary fibers, proteins, sugars, vitamins, cholesterol, etc
The Categories would divide your posts into topics. You may have multiple categories. In this case, you will have to nest sub-topics under the respective multiple topics of categories you have made. For example, my digital marketing blog has multiple categories, one of the topics (parent) in the categories is Content Marketing and the nested content sub-topics (child) are BuzzSumo Content Research, Readability Analysis, Content Marketing Techniques, etc You can create a name for the main category eg. is Digital Marketing. The slug in this case will be digital marketing all in lowercase with hyphens or numbers. The category URL will have no spaces in the slug. eg. is jobs.sapcanvas.com/digital-marketing/blogging-with-WordPress/
The Tags are used to optimize your post and can be something similar to keywords. Blogging with WordPress users who click on tags are taken to a list of all your posts that have the same tag. Add tags to your post through the post editor.
Blogging with WordPress – Media
The media library will house all the images, PDF files, videos, etc. that appear in your posts and pages. It is advisable to keep videos out of your media library because these can slow up your site. Instead, host your videos on YouTube and embed them in your posts.
Blogging with WordPress – Comments
If comments are allowed on your site you can view them here. While blogging with WordPress, reply to these comments or delete or mark them as spam.
Blogging with WordPress – Formatting Your Posts
The display menu after you click on Posts (fig 5) will show four items – All Posts, Add New, Categories, and Tags. Hover over any of the formatting icons and view its name and function. You will require the block editor to write every piece of content for your post. If your post has a lengthy range then it will have several blocks of content to house your heading H1, H2, H3…, paragraph, images, etc.
The All Posts section will contain all the posts you have written, and the draft or scheduled posts. The Add New enables you to write a new post. After writing some posts, find all the posts you have written in the Posts tab in the dashboard. Click the drop-down from the screen options tab at the top and check/ uncheck the options you want to view in the display. Under Pagination choose the number of posts/drafts you want to view per page. To manage your posts use the links and drop-downs to sort out your posts by “All dates” and, “All Categories”.
Alternatively, use the search box to find the posts you want. By hovering over each post title, options such as Edit | Quick Edit | Trash | View are displayed. With the help of these options make some basic changes without visiting your Post Editor. Edit, View, or delete your posts by sending them to the trash. The checkboxes at the right of each post allow you to edit and delete several posts in bulk. To do this choose an action from the bulk action drop-down and then click on “Apply”.
Posts – View
When you click the hamburger icon ( three dots) located at the top right, the view will display the four options. (1) Top toolbar – display the formatting menu bar at the top of your post. (2) Spotlight mode – highlight the block you are working with. The remaining content blocks will become faint. (3) Full-screen mode – gives a clean view of your screen. The menu to your left and the top will disappear. (4) Distraction-free – shows you a minimal toolbar, title, and content on your post. Everything will just disappear to show only your words without any distraction.
Below the View block are the two Editor options (1) The visual editor is WYSIWYG – what you see is what you get editor. This means making changes and viewing it live on your website and (2) The code editor will allow you to edit the HTML of your entire post.
Posts- List View – Settings – Post Editor
Click the “Document Overview tab” (the three horizontal lines) located at the top left corner of your post editor. Two options will show List View and Outline (fig. 11). To access the List View select this option which shows all the blocks such as heading, paragraph, image, etc. for your posts.
The Settings icon located next to the “View” (3 dots) top right houses the drop-down Post and Block panels. The Post Editor panel will give you a summary of the Visibility, Publishing options, URL of the post, etc. Tick the checkboxes if you want to render your post sticky or pending review. Choose under which category you want your post to belong. You can add a tag or include a featured image for your post.
Posts – Outline – Settings – Block Inserter +icon
The Outline option under the “Document Overview” tab at the left shows the Characters, Word Count, titles, headings, etc. for your posts (fig12).
The block panel under the Setting tab on the right side displays the working block formatting options (fig13). Under paragraph choose the color for your text and background. More options for text are available such as font size, font, appearance, line height, etc.
The block inserter (+icon) to your left includes a host of formatting options under Text, Media, Design, Widgets, Theme, Embeds, (fig13), etc
- Text – Paragraph, Heading, List …..
- Media – Image, Gallery, Video…
- Design – Buttons, Page Break, More…
Posts – Outline – Image Block Editor
In the Block Editor panel under settings (at the top right) for image block select styles such as default or rounded. Find more options below such as Alternative text, Aspect ratio, width X height in pixels, Resolution – thumbnail, medium, large, full size, etc (fig13).
Posts – Save Draft – Preview – Publish
While Blogging with WordPress, every time you work on your draft content make sure to save it. Before publishing your post, you can preview your posts to view how your site would appear live on the net. When you are satisfied with your preview hit the publish button to publish immediately or schedule your post to be published at a particular time and date.
Blogging with WordPress – Appearance
The options under the Appearance tab (fig15) in your dashboard help you change the way your site will look.
To manage your theme select Themes from the drop-down display. The view will show you the activated theme which you are using for your site. You can further customize by clicking on the customize button in the theme displayed box (fig15).
The theme customizer will allow you to further customize your site in line with the activated theme. Most of the features are based on the theme (free or paid) you are using. More Theme options will allow you to customize your theme further by adding a plugin (fig16) as above.
To add a new theme click on the Add New button and a wide number of themes will be displayed. Browse the top theme menu and you have further options (fig15) of choosing – Popular, Latest, Block Themes, etc. Hover over any theme and click the “Details and Preview” button to find out more about the theme,
The “Customize” under Appearance will display the Customize section to the left and the changes to be made will display to the right. Click on “Change” if you want to install another theme for your WordPress site. The above figure shows the options to the right for the selected view under “Site Identity.” The pencil icon (fig17) allows you to make changes to Header Media, Logo, Title, Tagline, Menus, elements in your sidebar and footer areas, etc.
The color scheme allows you to choose a color for your site and header text. The “ Header Media” allows you to upload a video in mp4 format or an image – the size of which will vary as per the theme being used.
From the “Menus” option select the location for displaying your menu. Again the number and location of menus to be displayed is based on your theme.
The “Widgets” selection allows you to install any widgets from the block editor +icon in the front-end sidebar, footer, or site-info area blocks.
The Homepage Settings allows you to choose what needs to be displayed on the homepage of your site. To do this create two pages for your Homepage and the other for your posts. Choose what needs to be displayed by checking the box from the two options either ‘your latest post’ or ‘a static page.’
With the Additional CSS section add your own CSS to further customize the layout and appearance of your site.
The different Widgets live in your block editor that can be assessed by clicking on the +icon. Choose any widget you want and install it in the sidebar or footer areas as shown above (fig19).
“Menus” allows you to create and manage menus for display at different locations based on your theme. Add posts, pages, categories, and social media icons to your menus. When you go to Appearance and click on menus a view list to our right will display as shown in fig20.
The “Manage Locations” will show you the display location for the menus (say primary, or secondary menus) assigned to that location (top menus, footer social media menu).
Under “Edit Menus” select a menu to edit from the drop-down and hit select. The menu selected will appear in the Menu Name. Start adding the menu items from Pages, Posts, Custom Links, etc. to your menu at the location (which is theme-based). The items under Pages will show all the pages you have created for your site. Similarly, posts will hold all the posts you have published, and so on. The custom links will allow you to add a URL and Link Text, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc., on your social media menu.
After adding the items in the menu you can drag the items above or below and place them in the order of your choice. The items can be further nested one after another to make them sub-items of a particular menu item (fig20). View additional options by clicking on the arrow located to the left in the menu element. You can delete the item from your menu by clicking on the ‘Remove’ tag at the bottom. The “Delete Menu” tag at the bottom can be used to delete the menu. At the end click the “Save Menu” button and the changes made will be reflected in the front end.
Theme File Editor
The Theme Editor allows WordPress site owners to edit their theme files from your dashboard. But do not touch this section if you do not have any coding knowledge. Whatever editing is done to your theme files such as PHP files, styles.css, etc. can be lost at the next update. To prevent this create a child theme and make your modifications here.
Select the theme you want to edit from the top drop-down to the right (Fig. 21). By default, the activated theme is selected. From the sidebar select the file you want to modify and the content is displayed to the left. After making changes click the update file at the border.
There is no need to make any changes to your styles.css file here. Write CSS code from the Additional CSS under Customize for customizing the layout and appearance of your site.
Blogging with WordPress – Plugins
Use Plugins to extend the features and functionality of your WordPress site without knowing how to code. Plugins are pieces of software that can be downloaded and installed on your site (Fig. 22).
Choose from options that are free from your WordPress plugin repository or download files from paid options. To install a plugin go to the plugin and click the Add New item from the drop-down. The search plugins… bar can help you to locate the plugin of your choice. Click the Install button (fig23). Allow WordPress a few seconds and click the Activate button and it is done.
To install a paid plugin, select Add New and then click the Upload plugin tab. Next, click on Choose File and select the zipped folder of the plugin by browsing on your computer (fig24). After this click the Install Now button to complete the installation.
If you are familiar with FTP – File Transfer Protocol use FileZilla to navigate to your website’s home directory. Locate the Wp-content folder and within it locate the plugins folder. Unzip the plugin folder on your computer and drag the files into this plugin folder. Next, go to the installed plugins tab and activate the plugin you have just installed through FTP.
Plugins are often updated by developers (fig25). In the installed plugin sections there is an update notification under individual plugins. Click the update tab to update your plugin. Bulk Actions from the dropdown can also be used to update several plugins in one go.
Blogging with WordPress – Users
Users in WordPress have an account with access capabilities. By default, WordPress has 5 defined distinct roles – Subscriber, Contributor, Author, Editor, and Administrator. For multi-WordPress sites sometimes the role of Super Admin may be assigned. The permissions assigned to each role are as outlined below.
- Subscribers- These are the visitors to your site who subscribe by giving their email address. They are limited to reading the posts/ pages or commenting on your website and are restricted access to any other activity on the website.
- Contributor- They write and edit their posts but have no publishing or uploading authority. These roles are reserved for guest bloggers whose content needs to be reviewed before publishing by an Editor or an Administrator. After their posts are published they cannot edit their posts. Moreover, they have no access to the Media Library, plugins, themes, or any User Management accounts.
- Author- They can write, edit, upload media, and publish/delete/moderate comments for their posts. They have restrictions and cannot manage other users nor delete, edit, or publish other users’ posts. Also, they may not add or delete users, or install/ activate themes or plugins.
- Editor- They have access to posts, pages, uploading media, comments, categories, and tags. In addition, they can schedule and edit content, and categories for their posts or of an Author or a Contributor but cannot change the content of the Administrator. Moreover, they are not allowed with the management of themes and plugins.
- The administrator is authorized to access everything which can include updating the site, having full access to settings, content, features, plugins, and themes, assigning roles and capabilities to other registered users, etc. This means that there should be one Administrator per website.
- Super Admin – They are found on multi-site WordPress installations and have total control over the website.
Click on “Users” in your dashboard and from the drop-down select “All Users” (fig26). View all the list of users on the display page to the right with the Administrator on the top. The Administrator has full access and the right to add or edit any information of users used at the time of creating the account. To edit any user information or password you need to hover over the user name click the edit tab and then make changes. The All Users tab can be used by an Administrator or any other user having the appropriate permissions. Sometimes when you change passwords/ any other information, it is best if you inform the user of the changes to prevent him from being locked out of your site.
Adding New Users
From the drop-down menu under “Users” click “Add New” and the view to your right will prompt you to fill the form having details such as User Name, email, First Name, Last Name, Website, Password, Role (select the user role), check the Send User Notification. You can create your password or use the Generate password tab to create a strong password. The password may be later changed by the user. Next, click the Add New User tab and you have created a new user for your site.
The Profile in the drop-down menu will allow you to create a profile under the “personal options” and “social profiles” tabs (fig28). Populate the information in the Personal Options form as required. The user name will be the one you use to log in to your account and this cannot be changed. The Nickname is the one that gets displayed under the posts.
You can choose the name you want to display in the post articles by filling in the information in the Display name publicly. The contact information will contain the valid email addresses of users wherein WordPress CMS can send notifications. This email will also be handy for password reset. Add your website to your profile here. Your biographical information about yourself will be shown publicly. The profile picture (fig29) you include here will be pulled from the Gravatar file and displayed on supporting websites where you register. Update your current password and restrict access to one device from here.
The Social Profile (fig30) allows your users to include their social profiles like Facebook, Twitter …etc. All they have to do is populate their social media URLs and the social media profile (additional) and click on the Update Profile tab. This allows readers to follow the users on social media. Moreover, it adds credibility to the users with those reading their posts and boosts the overall website authority.
Blogging with WordPress – Tools
The tool section in your WordPress dashboard enables you to execute some of the tasks on your site that would have to do with importing or exporting content. The drop-down menu under tools will display options of Available Tools, Import, and Export (fig31). On clicking the Available Tools option the display window to your right shows you the Categories and Tags Converter. You can install the Converter and run the script from here.
The import tool includes scripts that allow for the import of content from other blogs or WordPress sites. By default, WordPress has listed out the tools shown in Fig 32. Other options if not found here are also available through plugins. Search for it in the plugin repository and import the tool you want.
The export tool (fig33) can convert any content may it be a post, page, media, etc. from your current WordPress site in an XML file format. All you need to do is to check on any of the listed options and hit the “Download Export File” tab. Import this file to any of your other WordPress or blog sites. Exporting content in this manner is just another way of backing up your WordPress blog.
Install and activate the WordPress Importer plugin (fig34) and run the importer. Select choose file and select the “XML file” format saved to your computer. Next, click “Upload file” to import content that you have imported from your other blog or WordPress site.
Blogging with WordPress – Settings
Configure and customize the settings for General, Writing, Reading, Discussion, Media, and Permalinks, and note how they affect the visibility of your site. Plugins can be used to offer further customization.
Under this section enter your Site Title and Tagline (fig36) for your website which will display on your browser and search engines. The Tag line can be viewed below the site title and should indicate what your site is all about. Your WordPress URL or site URL are the same but if you want to add www then it will display on your browser. An email address would be necessary for password recovery or any notification that could be served to you regarding the activities taking place on your blog.
The membership blog can be kept unchecked unless you want people to register on your site. Set the new user default role to subscriber initially as this option will limit minimum access to your site. The site’s Language menu options allow you to choose the language of your choice. Select the week that starts on Monday or any other day of the week from the drop-down menu. Change the default timezone to your city and the time format to how you want to display it for your site. This enables scheduling posts to be published at the time you set.
How you write posts is controlled in the writing setting (fig37). For beginners, it would be appropriate to stick to the default settings. Alternatively, customize your writing options via the Posts screen from your dashboard.
The Reading settings will determine how visitors view your site. By default your home page displays your latest posts. The static page option (Fig. 38) may be selected if you want visitors to land on a specific home page. This can be done by choosing from the options in the drop-down menu of both the Home page and the Posts page.
The number of posts to be displayed on your home page and syndication feeds can be set by toggling the number count up and down from “Blog pages show at most” and “Syndication feeds show the most recent’. Also, limit the visibility of your post to full text or summary by choosing the option “For each article in a feed show.” Ensure that you leave the “Search Engine Visibility” box unchecked.
Manage engagement on your site through the Discussion setting (fig39) which allows you to curate comments. If visitors are not allowed to register, let the “default post settings” be as it is. From the “Other comment settings” control the specific comment action for your site. Choose the order of your comments either to display newer or older content at the top. With “Email me whenever” you can request WordPress to notify you if any of your visitors have commented or a comment is in the queue for moderation.
Through the “Before a comment appears” control the intentional offensive messages by manually approving such comments to show up on your site. Make use of “The Comment Moderation” section to set up criteria to hold back comments if they exceed a specific number of links or contain a particular name or URL The “Disallowed Comment keys” fig40 can help you to blacklist spam comments. Add IP addresses, URLs, or even email addresses so that comments coming from such sources end up in the trash. Avatars show comment authors displayed images to personalize comments. Choose a default avatar visitor for those who are not signed up.
On uploading your image to your media library the media settings show you the default sizes that WordPress generates for you – Thumbnail, Medium, and Large (fig41). It is possible to include custom sizes by editing images on your posts or pages. For prompt display of images when your site uploads check the box – Organize my uploads into month and year-based folders.
The default permalinks URL structure is plain but it is not clean. The appropriate option to make your URL easy to read is to check the “Post name” button and save changes (Fig. 42). The category base and tag base may be left by default.
SEO & Analytics for Blogging with WordPress
Track your audience by connecting your blog to the free Google Analytics. The standard for Web Analytics is Google Analytics which provides insights for your blog. Connect your Google Analytics account to Google Console and measure your blog performance. Find out how your website ranks and various other metrics. Explore the traffic sources for your different posts or how visitors behave on your site.
Blogging with WordPress – Conclusion
The only free option to start a blog without paying for the platform is Blogger. Learn how to create your blog for free by clicking on the link Google Blogger.
After growing your site on Blogger, you may want to transfer it to a self-hosted blog then WordPress.org is the most suitable choice. All you need to do is to buy your domain and pay for hosting. Your host or a developer can help integrate your Blogger into your self-hosted WordPress blog.
A word of caution, with your blogging with WordPress, try not to connect to a WordPress.com option. But for those who want to start blogging with the WordPress.com option, note that It is possible to migrate your site from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. Wix and Squarespace are other platforms where you can opt to create your blog. But these are not free. They serve as both domain registrar and a host with a drag-and-drop builder interface.