Your WordPress blog will be the mainstay of your work in this class. By the end of the term, your completed work on the blog will serve as a digital portfolio, something you should be proud of, something you should be able to show college admissions counselors or prospective employers as a sampling of the skills you possess.
Throughout the semester, you will write posts of interest to you, improving your digital writing skills as we move along. You will link or embed projects that you work on individually, in pairs or in groups, and you will write reflectively on those projects. Reflective writing will serve additional purposes as you will use it to gain a better understanding of articles I will share with you, articles you find on your own, and applications and online tools you will try out.
Starting the blog is a project in itself, and it begins with planning:
Decide on an area of interest. While some posts will be assigned by me, you should also post regularly on an interest of your own. This is your time to explore your own interests, but you are encouraged develop a blogging habit and to utilize the skills we learn on other assignments. Even the assignments can often revolve around your area of interest. If I simply want you to learn how to use a link or include a photo, why wouldn’t I let you make the post about something that interests you? These interests could be cooking, drawing, sports, health, music, books, or any other area that lends itself to some amount of exploration, research and writing.
Consider names for your blog. Make it catchy, memorable, but short enough to fit in the URL. It will appear as “nameofmyblog.wordpress.com”
Consider usernames. This can be the same as the name of your blog, but doesn’t have to be. The username represents the user, the blogger, you. It could be your first name or a combination of first and last. Even a nickname can work, but avoid using your first and last name or anything packed with numbers and difficult to remember.
Build it and they will come.
Get started, by going to wordpress.com. Use your Gmail address.
Plug in a username. This can be tricky, because WP doesn’t allow two people with the same username. It might take a while to find something you like that isn’t already taken. Be creative.
Put in a password. Think of something you can remember that others will not know. Find a safe way to save your password so you can find it if you forget it. DO NOT LOSE OR FORGET IT.
Put in your blog address. This is your blog name, which is also the URL for your blog. It will read: “nameofmyblog.wordpress.com” This is how people will find your blog and how it will show up. If the name is already taken, you may have to try several times to find an available name for your blog. I recommend using a unique, easy to remember name rather than sticking numbers after the name you wanted, in the way of usernames for other purposes. After all, this is the NAME OF YOUR BLOG. “MusicMan35642” just doesn’t cut it. Some will say readers don’t search by the name of the blog, but I disagree. I’ve clicked on links that take me to blogs I’ve enjoyed. Sometime later, I’ve wanted to return to that blog. If the blog name was catchy, I can remember it.
The dashboard is where a lot of magic happens. Here, you’ll be able to manage several different aspects of your blog. Keep in mind, though, that like many web-based applications, WordPress goes through updates and how to access certain parts changes.
- tagline: Consider a phrase or sentence that describes your purpose. This can be added or changed later.
- privacy options: I suggest selecting “discourage search engines from indexing this site” to allow human visitors, but keep web crawlers out.
- Theme: Now for the fun part, unless you have a hard time with decisions. Under “appearance” select “themes.” Themes are named and new ones are added all the time. Select “free”. Look through those available. Consider whether you plan to post lots of images or mostly text. You will probably want a sidebar for widgets.
- widgets: Back to appearance, select widgets. Widgets are so varied they almost defy explanation. I suggest starting with “archives” and “recent posts.” Beyond that, they are basically apps that appear in one of your sidebars or the footer, depending on your theme. You select them by dragging one to “primary,” “secondary,” “footer,” or other sidebar – depends on your theme. Play with them. You can always remove and try out others. As you look at other blogs, as I recommend you do, you’ll gain a sense of different widgets and what they are used for.
- pages: Hovering under the name of your blog in the upper left corner, the drop-down menu will give you the option of “new” and “page.” You can make a new page (in addition to your Home and About pages); however, posts on other pages won’t show up anywhere unless viewers know to go look. You could create a new page for some of your projects, photos, designs or whatever your special interest is.
Your first post, which will go on your homepage, will be your polished up TED reflection on the Adora Svitak video. Be sure you create a title with each post that reflects what the assignment is, but dare to be a bit creative. In this post, you will include a link to the video itself. (You can even embed the video by pasting the URL on its own line. The video will show when you view the page.)
In a portion of your reflection where you refer to the video, use your curser to highlight the phrasing you wish to make the link. You will notice that on the task bar of your new post area, a “link” symbol (it looks like a link of a chain) is now available. Click on it and a new window opens. In the URL space, past the link to the TED video. You will have to have it open in another tab and copy it from that URL bar. Back to the link window, be sure you check the box that asks if you want the link to open in a new window. Of course you do. You don’t want readers leaving your blog to view the video and not finding their way back to your blog. Voila – you just created a link in your first blog post.
Proofread your blog post for the hundredth time. To the right, you’ll see categories options. Consider what categories readers might search to find your blog post. Categories are more broad than tags. Appropriate categories might be Video or Reflection. These categories will show up on your homepage sidebar, so don’t overdo. Then type in tags (with the hashtag). These can be more specific for searches. Try #TED, #AdoraSvitak, #imagination, and the like. These search tools will help bring readers to your blog.
Look things over AGAIN. If satisfied, hit PUBLISH. You just created a blog post. Congrats.